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Are House Surveys Worth It?

This is a question that we get asked quite regularly and it is a very simple one to answer. Fundamentally yes, but you need to ensure that you have a well-qualified, pragmatic surveyor engaged on the right terms that will help you manage the risk of a bad purchase.

A typical Chartered Surveyor would inspect perhaps five houses a week meaning that they are surveying around two-hundred houses a year. They therefore see issues and problems on a regular basis, and an experienced surveyor will draw on past knowledge when inspecting your property and will apply this knowledge and skills to your inspection. Ultimately, they have ‘wise eyes’ and in the worst-case scenario will give some peace of mind.

One thing surveyors do not have is X-ray vision. They can only work within the terms and conditions of engagement, which means that they cannot do destructive testing, nor remove panelling or built-in units. Surveys are therefore limited in scope to some degree. That said, an experienced surveyor can look at a potential issue and can make certain assumptions and give advice based on past experience and can potentially raise a red flag and advise further, more specialist, investigation that might then involve removing panels and perhaps even destructive testing with the vendor’s approval.

A Building Survey is a little bit like going to your GP for a health check. He will give you a once-over, take your temperature, check your blood pressure, look in your ears and down your throat, ask key questions etc. and make an informed decision about your health but may then refer you to specialists at the hospital.

This is very similar to a Building Survey - but if you don’t have the initial check-up you don’t know where to start. The Building Survey is the starting point on a journey which may give your property a clean bill of health but may suggest further investigations which may prove worth their weight in gold.

The big concern with not having a Building Survey carried out is that you buy something with some fundamental issues that may be expensive to resolve. Whilst that may not manifest itself during the course of your ownership, it is possible that when you come to sell, your buyer will have a survey and their surveyor will find that issue and the cost of remediation may be put back onto you in any event.

So, in summary, the advice is that it is prudent to have a Building Survey undertaken to give a general overview of the property and give advice as to specialist enquiries that may be appropriate with a view to reducing the overall risk of the purchase. You are never going to remove the risk entirely, but you certainly reduce it down quite dramatically.

Speaking from experience, we have many instances where we have saved clients significant amounts of money by flagging up potential issues which were subsequently investigated and the price adjusted accordingly.

So the answer to the question is almost certainly ‘yes’. Home surveys are worth it!

 Richard E M Winder MRICS
Chartered Surveyor & RICS Registered Valuer
Associate Member of The Academy of Experts

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What is the RICS?

RICS - London

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is the organisation responsible for the training and regulation of Chartered Surveyors. To be listed on Local Building Surveyors, surveyors must be either a RICS Member (AssocRICS, MRICS/FRICS) or a Firm Regulated by the RICS, so you can be assured that your survey will be carried out by a qualified regulated professional.

Find out more about the RICS

What type of survey do I need?

Find out more about the different RICS Surveys

There are three standard RICS Survey Levels. Check out the links below to find out more:

RICS Level 1 Condition Report

RICS Level 2 HomeBuyer Report

RICS Level 3 Building Survey


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