What Do Surveyors Look For During A House Survey?
|1. What does a surveyor do?|
2. What do surveyors check and include in their reports?
3. What doesn’t a surveyor include in their survey?
4. House survey FAQs
What does a surveyor do during a house survey?Having a survey done is a common part of the house-buying process. Buyers use the information a survey provides to decide whether or not to buy a property, or they might try to negotiate the price, depending on what the surveyor finds. Read on to learn more about what a surveyor does, what their report will and won’t include, and get answers to frequently asked questions about house surveys.
Surveyors are highly-trained professionals who can assess and offer advice on the condition of a building. UK surveyors should be a member of one of the following accredited bodies:
Exactly what a surveyor includes in their survey report will depend on:
1. Key property informationThe survey report will detail important information about your property, such as:
2. An assessment of the property’s exteriorThe surveyor will check the outside of your property from ground level. They’ll look at the following:
3. An inspection of the property’s interiorInside your property, a surveyor will look at:
4. Any suspected dangerous materialsIf the surveyor thinks a problem like asbestos might be present in your property, they will likely recommend further investigation.
5. A basic check of the main servicesSurveyors will do a simple check on what they can see of the services below:
6. A review of the groundsDuring their survey, surveyors will assess the ground conditions and visually inspect the following:
7. An overview of potential legal issuesThe survey report will include any potential legal problems the surveyor has identified during their visit. It's then up to the buyer to raise these with their conveyancer or solicitor before exchange if they wish to do so. Common examples include building regulations and planning permission for extensions, and warranties for windows and doors.
8. A summary of potential risksPerhaps most importantly, surveyors will flag the main risks they’ve found in your property or grounds. The extent to which these risks are explained depends on what level of survey report the buyer has chosen. RCIS Home Survey - Level 1 reports will list the risks but give no further explanation. The homebuyers survey (RCIS Home Survey - Level 2) also explains the nature of the problems and how a buyer might solve or reduce the risk. An RCIS Home Survey - Level 3 building survey will be more definite about the issue and how to solve it or reduce the risk.
There are certain things a surveyor won’t look at or include in their report. For example, they won’t check if services like electricity and gas are working correctly because they’re not qualified to do so.
Also, surveyors won’t look for things out of the scope of the survey report or chosen level, or things they can’t gain access to. Depending on the survey level, the surveyor might recommend further investigation - for example, by a building surveyor or specialist - for more information.
Finally, a survey usually only includes a property valuation if the buyer requests this in advance.
Read on for answers to some commonly-asked questions about house surveys.
What’s the difference between a survey and a mortgage valuation?A mortgage valuation is carried out by the mortgage lender to check whether or not the property is worth the amount of money the buyer wants to borrow to pay for it. It's their way of ensuring that lending money to buy the property is a good investment. The valuation doesn’t include any detailed feedback about the property’s condition. It also only sometimes includes an in-person visit.
Similarly, a house survey doesn't automatically include a property valuation. However, if the buyer asks for this in advance, a surveyor can usually include one. But it does cover an assessment by the surveyor of the property's condition.
Whose responsibility is it to arrange a survey?In England and Wales, the buyer is responsible for arranging a property survey and covering the cost, if they want one. In Scotland, the seller arranges and pays for a survey as part of a buyer's pack before their property is marketed.
Having said that, if you're selling a house in England or Wales and want to get ahead of any potential problems a buyers' survey might uncover, you can arrange a property survey yourself.
How much do surveys cost?The cost of surveys varies depending on the level of the survey report and the size and location of the property. Prices can range from £250 up to around £1,500.
How long does a survey take?How long the surveyor will be in your house will depend on the type of survey the buyer has chosen. A homebuyer survey usually takes between one to four hours to complete. A full structural survey can take the surveyor three to eight hours. The report can take up to eight working days to come back.
Do surveyors look in cupboards?Surveyors do need to check whether your house is structurally sound. But even a comprehensive building survey must be non-intrusive. Yes, they’ll probably open your cupboard under the stairs, but they shouldn’t go through your kitchen cupboards and wardrobes.
How do you prepare for a house survey?There are a few things you can do to make the surveyor’s job a little quicker and easier. First, declutter the areas you know the surveyor will want to look at - for example, utilities, windows and under the stairs. Limit the number of people in the house when the survey takes place to one or two to avoid distractions. Finally, clean the house and fix any minor defects before the surveyor comes around to help ensure the report is as positive as possible.
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