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 house survey to highlight any defects, issues and associated repairs needed to put things right. Whether you are a first-time buyer, or already a homeowner, you need the peace of mind that you aware of the true condition of the property to make an informed decision. We thought it would be helpful to explore five of the most common issues found in surveys, and what they mean to the 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 tends to be the right one.
- If the property is listed, was built pre-1800, has undergone major alterations or extensions work, or requires a lot of work, then a Building Survey is the right choice.
Both surveys should include a thorough examination of the main building and any permanent outbuildings. However, there are important differences. Check out our handy infographic for more in-depth information. To be absolutely sure, talk to your surveyor to find out what’s right for you.
The Common Issues Found in a Home Buyers Report
1) Detecting damp
Damp is one of the most common issues that we find. Penetrating damp is caused when water gets into a house from the outside – from leaky roofs or rising damp say. Most cases though are caused by condensation and poor ventilation inside the home. 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 how and what needs to be repaired. There’s some useful information on what causes damp in a property here.
2) Issues with roof structures and spaces
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 should be checked, and roof structures if accessible. Condition ratings can help you gauge the severity of any problem detected.
3) Lack of test certification
It’s important to check the safety of electrics inside a home and these should be tested every ten years. No electric test certification is a common 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 also a common issue. Boilers should be tested every year. Vendors should be able to provide a Gas Safety Record showing a qualified Gas Safe engineer has checked all appliances and pipework.
4) No smoke or carbon monoxide alarms
Not all property owners are diligent in installing smoke or carbon monoxide alarms to keep everyone safe. It may sound like a given but this is something you should always look for in the results of a survey.
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.
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 too. There’s some additional information here on this.
Do surveys often lead to failure to complete a purchase?
Surveys don’t always reveal something bad. 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 Home Surveys
If you would like to find out more about how much it would cost to produce one of our detailed Home Surveys, please do not hesitate to contact a Chartered Surveyor at Robinson Elliott Surveyors. You can also find out more about the locations we operate within Sussex, Kent, and the South-East of England.