February 28, 2017

Building Surveys

Buying, extending or altering a home is the largest financial commitment most people will ever make. Though it is always an exciting and sometimes even life-changing milestone, it is also challenging, stressful and fraught with potential pitfalls that could have extremely serious and costly consequences.

Unfortunately, purchasers of properties have little protection if they purchase a property with serious deficiencies or unexpected legal complications. Estate agents are paid by and contracted to the seller, not to you as a buyer and they have neither the expertise nor any real incentive to identify hidden problems with the properties they are selling. As a buyer you are therefore well advised to obtain expert advice from an experienced professional who is responsible only for protecting your interests. Commissioning a full building survey is one of the best ways to do this, and to protect yourself against the possibility of future costs.

What is a building survey?

A building survey is a detailed and comprehensive report, provided in a custom format to best suit your needs and the style of the property. The surveyor will examine all accessible parts of the property and can look further into less-accessible areas about which you have a particular concern.

Although building surveys are tailored to your requirements, most will include details of all major and minor defects including what impact they might have and how much it might cost to repair them. Walls will be tested for damp, timbers tested for woodworm and rot, insulation and drainage will be tested, and the materials and construction of the property will be thoroughly assessed.

If any areas of concern are identified that cannot be fully assessed within the scope of the survey, the report will also provide recommendations for additional special inspections that could be carried out.

Most building surveys do not include a valuation, but all of our surveyors can provide valuations as an additional service if required.

How does it protect me?

Having a building survey done protects you in two main ways.

Firstly, it ensures that you are aware of any possible problems with the property before you purchase it, and that you have an idea of the cost to rectify them. This gives you the ability to renegotiate the price or even withdraw from the purchase before you have exchanged contracts and are ‘tied in’. This is vitally important as it is very rarely possible to obtain compensation for problems with a property once the sale is complete.

Secondly, in the very unlikely event that you obtain a survey and then suffer unexpected costs for a deficiency that was not covered in the report, you have much greater financial protection if you have taken advice from a qualified surveyor with professional indemnity insurance. Anderson Wilde & Harris have cover of up to £25million for each claim, meaning that you have a much better chance of being compensated than if you had purchased the property without taking professional advice.

Do I need one?

Not all properties necessarily require a full building survey, and Anderson Wilde & Harris also offer RICS Homebuyers reports which can be sufficient for smaller, recently-built properties that are in good condition.

However, a building survey is suitable for all properties if you want additional peace of mind, and is particularly recommended for:

  • Older properties
  • Properties with unusual construction
  • Properties that have previously had significant alterations or extension
  • Properties that you plan to make significant alterations to
  • Listed properties

 What can Anderson Wilde & Harris do?

Anderson Wilde & Harris have extensive experience in assessing and providing advice on buildings of all types, sizes and constructions. We will act solely in your interest and provide professional and impartial advice.

As RICS members, we are tightly regulated and required to regularly maintain our skills and knowledge so you know that our expertise is current and up-to-date.

To find out more about our building surveys, or to talk about your requirements and how we might be able to help, contact us today.