Surveys – one size fits all or is bespoke best?

December 2015

This month, I am pleased to have a guest blog from Right Surveyors – a national group of surveying specialists.

Not all surveys were born alike. It’s a common misconception by property purchasers that surveys are expensive, slow to arrange, even slower to arrive and tedious to trawl through.

In this blog, we take a look at some of the survey types provided and which will suit your needs.

Acquisition Advice

Firstly, it’s a misconception that a surveyor’s advice can only be delivered in an expensive report. Most surveyors charge for their time, so many offer a verbal service. It takes half the time, as the surveyor doesn’t need hours in the office; which means half the fee for you.

The surveyor inspects your property, investigates for any defects or interesting features and reports to you verbally – on site or over the telephone. In fact, this can be incredibly useful – you can openly discuss your plans for the future, your concerns and your maintenance considerations; all with candid honesty from a surveyor who doesn’t need to incur liability with every written word.

One of the Directors in Manchester commented:

“I’d hate to think that a client who could really benefit from a surveyor’s advice proceeds to purchase without it, because they feared the expense of a written report. I can provide a verbal report at a much lower fee – you get the information immediately, you can take your own notes and you can pick my brains about your plans. I think it’s a great option, particularly if you’re tight on budget or time.”

House Purchase Survey (HPS)

Sometimes, a verbal report just isn’t enough. You might want to use a written report to negotiate a better purchase price. Your property might be older, more complex or more individual than could be covered with just a verbal report. You might need a deeper level of detail for a particular issue that a verbal breakdown and short inspection just couldn’t cover.

Whatever the reason, a House Purchase Survey provides a cost-effective written report which is built around the property you’re purchasing. It’s bespoke, so the surveyor can spend more time on the important findings and less time on the superficial aspects like decorative state.

You don’t need to know that a child drew on the lounge wall with a crayon, but you do need to know if subsidence is going to deny you or a future purchaser a mortgage.

RICS HomeBuyer Report (HBR)

Based on a standardised format and a traffic light system, it’s a value-for-money service which will highlight to you any serious issues which might impact the value of your investment.

Whilst not as strong for owner-occupiers as the more comprehensive House Purchase Survey, the HBR is generally pitched at a lower fee level and is more concise and typically easier to read.

Full Building Survey

This is the most comprehensive survey available, the surveyor will spend hours at the property carefully investigating each aspect. Like the HPS, the document will be bespoke, but the level of detail is considerably greater.

Ultimately, furnished with such a report you will know everything there is to know about the building you are buying. You will be able to plan your maintenance spending years ahead, budget for repairs before settling on a purchase price and understand the way the structure fits together.

It’s often not cheap (£600 – £1000+), but a well written building survey from a good quality chartered surveyor is worth every penny – and more.

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