Buying a property is probably the biggest investment you’ll ever make. So it makes sense to seek an objective appraisal and have a thorough Home Survey to highlight any defects, issues and associated repairs needed to put things right.
Whether you are a first-time buyer or an existing homeowner, being aware of the condition of the property is important, not only for your own peace of mind, but also in order to make informed decisions on any actions that need taking. A proper survey conducted by a chartered surveyor will also help you to ascertain an accurate valuation of the property, to avoid property underinsurance – which can be very costly.
If you are nervous about a Home Survey, you can alleviate a lot of your worries by knowing what you’re up against. With that in mind, let’s explore five of the most common house survey problems we come across, and what they can mean for a prospective buyer.
What type of house survey should I choose?
At a glance:
If the residential property was built after 1800 with conventional materials and is in a reasonable condition then a HomeBuyer Survey is usually the one you need.
If the property is listed, was built pre-1800, has undergone major alterations or extensions, or requires a lot of work, then a Building Survey is the right choice. Both surveys should include an in-depth examination of the main building and any permanent outbuildings. However, there are important differences.
Check out our handy infographic for more information.
Each property is unique, so to be 100% sure about what you need, get in touch with the team at Robinson Elliott Surveyors. We’ll be able to provide you with the advice and guidance you need in order to make the right decisions for you.
Common Issues Found in a HomeBuyer Report
1) Detecting damp
Damp is one of the most common house survey problems that we find. Penetrating damp is caused when water gets into a house from the outside, from leaky roofs or rising damp, for example. In many cases, however, damp is caused by condensation and poor ventilation inside the property.
Dampness can also cause wet rot, found both externally and internally, and dry rot is usually found in cellars and basements. If damp is detected, your survey should reveal the cause of the damp so you understand what needs to be repaired and how.
There’s some useful information on what causes damp in a property here.
2) House survey roof problems
We often find that inadequate insulation and ventilation in roof spaces and blocked and overflowing gutters are the two of the most frequent issues. Your survey should include inspection of the roof, chimneys and high level surfaces. From the inside, roof spaces and roof structures should be checked, where accessible. Condition ratings can help you gauge the severity of any house survey roof problems detected.
3) Lack of test certification
It’s important to check the safety of electrics inside a property, and these should be tested every ten years. No electric test certification is a common house survey problem. While a survey will not check the condition of the electrics, ensure that you have an Electrical Installation Condition Report done to make sure your new home is safe.
Not having a Boiler Test Certificate is a problem we find time and again in home surveys. Boilers need to be tested every year. Vendors should be able to provide a Gas Safety Record showing a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer has checked all appliances and pipework.
4) No smoke or carbon monoxide alarms
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are essential for safety in every residential property. However, not all property owners are diligent in installing them. A HomeBuyer Survey will identify if either are missing, so keep an eye out for this.
5) No building regulation approval for extensions and alterations
Your vendor should have approved documents for any extension or alteration work they have carried out that needed to be compliant with Building Regulations. It is possible to obtain retrospective building control approval, known as ‘regularisation’. You may wish to request this from the current owner or renegotiate the price of the property to account for this.
Are cracks a serious problem in house surveys?
Home buyers understandably get nervous about any external or internal cracks in the property they want to buy. We often get asked about this. Not all cracks are serious and a survey will reveal whether they are a major problem. The underlying issue causing the cracking will often be identified as part of the HomeBuyer survey.
There’s some additional information on cracks in properties here.
Do house survey problems lead to failure to complete a purchase?
Surveys don’t always reveal something bad. However, if your survey does reveal something serious or worrying, it gives you the objective information you need to work out what to do next.
It will help you make an informed decision on whether you want to continue with the buying process and seek quotes on the cost of repairs. The survey could be used as evidence to help you renegotiate the price and factor in the cost of putting things right.
Find out more about HomeBuyer Surveys
If you would like to find out more about how much it would cost to produce one of our detailed HomeBuyer Surveys, please do not hesitate to contact our team of Chartered Surveyors at Robinson Elliott Surveyors.
We cover a wide range of areas across the South East of England, including Sussex, Surrey and Kent.