What Type Of Survey Should I Have?

SNIPPETT: Our guide for anybody purchasing a residential property examines the differences between a HomeBuyer Report and a comprehensive Building Survey

The many hundreds of thousands of shoppers who descend on Oxford Street in the West End of London during the run up to Christmas pick up gifts safe in the knowledge that they are covered by a raft of consumer protection legislation.

But the majority of the most expensive items on offer in the West End do not come with any form of guarantee.

Most properties for sale in Fitzrovia – just to the north of Oxford Street – carry price tags of at least £500,000, yet a similar number of homebuyers as those who venture into London on Christmas shopping expeditions move into a property without bothering to find out if it is in good condition.

Most homebuyers believe their mortgage lender’s standard valuation all the protection they need, although this document says nothing about the building’s state of repair.

Unless you are purchasing a new-build home that comes with a 10-year warranty, property purchasers are advised to bring in the professionals to carry out either a Building Survey or to produce a HomeBuyer Report.

What Type Of Survey Should I Have?

Here, we ask estate agents in Shoreditch, east London, and West Hampstead to the north of the city to explain the difference between the two…

Home Buyer Report

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) HomeBuyer Report was introduced in 2009. It has previously known as Homebuyers Survey and Valuation (HSV)
Typically cheaper than a Building Survey, a HomeBuyer Report is best suited for conventional homes that were built no more than 150 years ago and appear to be in reasonable condition.

While the RICS-qualified surveyor will not carry out an in-depth analysis of the property, a HomeBuyer Report will include details of:

  • The valuation of the house or appartment on the open market.

  • Information about location.

  • The estimated cost of rebuilding the property for insurance purpose.

  • An assessment of any drainage or damp-proofing in the building.

  • The condition of the building’s timbers and whether rot or woodworm is present.

  • Damp test results.

  • Information about urgent problems that should receive attention from a specialist.

  • Details of faults in easy-to-access parts of the property that could affect its value.

Although not as in-depth as a Building Survey, a HomeBuyer Report will bring to the attention of the prospective buyer any aspect of the property that may currently be causing a problem or is likely to require repair in the future, says east London estate agent Peach Properties.

Building Survey

A Building Survey, on the other hand, is the most comprehensive survey available for residential homes and will provide a detailed evaluation of a property’s condition.
Also known as a Structural Survey, a Building Survey is carried out by a chartered surveyor regulated by RICS who will produce a report that describes the condition of each element of the property. The surveyor will actively search for any structural problems or defects.

This means a Building Survey is best suited for purchasers of older homes that have either undergone renovation or are in need of major work.

Unlike a HomeBuyer Report, Building Survey reports do not have a standard format, which means the surveyor can tailor the investigation to suit a property purchaser’s needs. However, the report will not include a valuation of the property.

A Building Survey report will typically include details of:

  • All defects in a property and its general structural integrity.

  • The results of tests for damp in the walls.

  • Woodworm, dry rot and other damage to timbers.

  • The condition of existing insulation and damp proofing.

  • Information on the materials used to build the property and some additional technical information.

  • Recommendations for the investigations on the house.

Due to a Building Survey involving an in-depth investigation of a property’s condition, it can take up to a day to complete and the final report can take up to two weeks to receive.

However, by digging much deeper into the current state of the property and its past history, a Building Survey can uncover any structural problems with the property that would otherwise go unnoticed, reports West Hampstead estate agent Paramount Properties.