What You Should Know When Considering a House Purchase Survey

When you’re in the middle of buying a new home, you may not always stop to consider the possibility of problems with the property, especially if you don’t spot the signs right away. This is why many experts would recommend having a house purchase survey carried out before you move in, so you’re not caught out by any potential issues that will then cost more to repair or to put right in the future.

At Coastal Drains, we believe that homeowners should be as well-informed as possible before making a decision on surveys for their new property. So, we’ve put together this guide on everything you need to know about house purchase surveys, before you go ahead and get in touch with a property surveyor.

What is a House Purchase Survey?

A house purchase survey is an inspection of a property and its overall condition. The information is then gathered into a report, which is presented to a new prospective buyer. The survey is usually carried out after the buyer’s offer has been accepted.

Do I Need a Survey When Buying a House?

We understand that an extra survey after buying a house can feel like just another expense, sometimes with more stress involved. But it is highly recommended that you take the time to have the work done, because the survey will uncover any problems with your property that you may not have noticed until it was too late otherwise. You may even be able to use the information to negotiate with the seller, and get the price reduced in order to pay any repair fees.

To give an example, if there is a blocked drain somewhere in your new property, or underground outside of the house, you may not notice this until the water starts to back up and overflow. This may cause water damage to your home, which will then cost more from your budget to get repaired than simply having the survey carried out and the drain unblocked. By having the survey carried out quickly, all of this can be avoided.

If you would prefer to search for options which don’t involve getting a full survey carried out, you may also consider contacting a specialist firm to carry out work such as a CCTV drainage survey. This will provide you with a comprehensive view of your pipes and drainage system, helping you to spot problems and get them sorted out before they start to affect your home.

Organising a House Purchase Survey

If you’re buying a house in most parts of the UK, it’ll be up to you to request and arrange a survey of any kind on your new property. What you’ll need to decide is which type is going to be best in your individual circumstances. However, this changes if you are buying a house in Scotland. If this is the case, it’s up to the person selling the property to arrange a Home Report (which is similar to a homebuyers report), so that this can be presented to the buyer before the sale goes ahead.

A Home Report offers the new owner a range of details about the condition of the property they’re buying, including information on its drainage system, roof, internal and external walls and accessibility, as well as a valuation, environmental report and property questionnaire. 

Types of House Purchase Survey

In the UK, there are a number of different options for house surveys when you’re looking at buying a property. These are split over three levels, with each type offering different levels of service. You can choose any of the types available for your new home, but there is a chance you may be limited in your choice, depending on your budget.

The types of house purchase survey you’ll have to choose between include:

Condition Reports (Survey Level One)

A condition report is the most basic of the survey options, as well as the most friendly for any budget. It doesn’t offer an extensive amount of detail. Instead, it will:

  • Complement any mortgage valuation you’re having completed
  • Provide “traffic light” indications for various parts of the property grounds and building
  • Give a summary of any defects the property has, as well as any possible risks

It must be noted that condition reports do not offer any advice on repairs, or provide a buyer with a valuation of the property.

Homebuyers Reports (Survey Level Two)

According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), homebuyers reports are the most popular of the survey options available in the UK. This type of survey is also split into two, depending on whether you’d like the survey carried out with a valuation or without.

A “survey only” version will include information on any obvious major problems, such as rot or subsidence. However, the surveyor will also be non-intrusive, so they won’t look behind furniture, drill any holes or lift up floorboards to see the extent of damage. Alternatively, a “survey and valuation” option will offer you everything already stated, with the addition of a valuation and an insurance reinstatement value (this is how much you would receive if you were to lose the property in a fire).

Home Condition Surveys

These surveys are offered by the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA), rather than RICS, and are carried out by specialists that present the information in a consumer-friendly format. All the reports offered by the RPSA are checked to ensure consistency and quality, while including notes on:

  • The property’s broadband speed
  • An assessment of any damp
  • Boundary issues that should be considered

Building or Structural Surveys (Survey Level Three)

Known in the past as “structural” surveys but more commonly called “building” surveys in the modern day, this type of survey is a more in-depth option for those with a higher budget. How much they will cost depends on the size of the property, but you can expect the end report to provide you with extensive detail on:

  • Advice for repairs
  • Estimated timings and costs
  • What will happen if the repairs are not completed

The surveyor will carry out a thorough inspection, including going into the attic, checking behind walls, looking under floors and above ceilings.

The report for a building or structural survey will most likely not include a market valuation, or an insurance reinstatement estimate.

Mortgage Valuations

Mortgage valuations are not exactly the same as surveys, though property owners will often mistake them for the same thing. These do not offer you any notes or advice on structural damage or points in your property that need repairing. Instead, having this work done will demonstrate to your mortgage lender that the property you’re buying is worth the amount they’re lending out. On occasion, lenders will include a free survey with your mortgage offer.

Snagging Surveys

If you’re moving into a new build, you may wish to have a snagging survey carried out instead. This type of survey will identify any defects, faults or other problems with the work before you move in. These can then be fixed, so that your new home is exactly as you imagined it when you started the purchasing process.

Environmental Surveys 

Another additional survey you may wish to have carried out is an environmental search report. These reports highlight environmental risks which could affect your new property or the surrounding area, including:

  • Contaminated land
  • The possibility of flooding
  • Energy and infrastructure
  • Ground stability
  • The presence of radon and;
  • Any other influential factors which could affect your property

Who Carries Out Surveys?

Properties should always be surveyed by qualified surveyors, such as members of RICS. It is highly recommended that you find a local surveyor to your area as well, as they are more likely to be aware of local market values.

If you’re buying an unusual property, such as a lighthouse, stately home or castle, you may wish to get in touch with a surveyor who has experience in dealing with these properties.

How Much Does a House Purchase Survey Cost?

The cost of a house purchase survey can vary by quite a large amount, depending on the type of survey you opt for, as well as a number of different factors relating to your property. For instance, a simple condition report, prices may start from around £250-£300, while a building or structural survey for a large property may reach costs of up to £2,000.

If you cannot afford this from your budget, it may be best to opt for a survey that covers fewer aspects, so that you can take care of some problems with your property while saving up to handle the rest in the future. This is why you may choose to have a house drainage survey carried out instead, ensuring that your system is working for your property while saving money with a more affordable service.

Call Us to Have Your Drains Professionally Surveyed

If you’re in the middle of purchasing a property on the South Coast, have recently moved in, or even if you’re already firmly established where you are but haven’t yet taken steps to look at your drains, you may wish to consider getting a drain survey from us. At Coastal Drains, we are fully prepared to inspect and survey your system as you need, mapping out every part for your plans and finding any faults that may be present before they become a larger, more expensive issue. We’ll even be able to remove any blockages or repair damage such as cracks or wear and tear for you!

Our offices are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so give us a call or send us an email whenever you’d like to book your property in for the work that is designed to give you full peace of mind. We can be there at a time which suits you best, keeping our work quick and efficient so that your day is kept to as regular a schedule as possible, with minimal interruption. We’ll then leave you to enjoy your new home, with its drains in the working order you deserve.

Author: Greg Child

Greg is an expert in drainage and has been in the business for over 30 years. He's the owner of Coastal Drains Ltd and a very, very friendly chap.