Which type of house surveys will I need?

17 Jan 2014
Published in Property
Views 1263

What are house surveys, which one is best, how much do they cost and are they an un-necessary extra cost when it comes to buying your home?

Are house surveys important?

Surveying your home properly is absolutely essential when buying a property.  A few hundred pounds spent on a survey could save you tens of thousands of pounds in the future. Some house defects you can't see and they could threaten the very structure of your lovely new home

Depending on your property there are three main surveys you can get. These are:

  • Valuation report
  • Home buyers survey
  • Full structural survey

Read our comprehensive guide to find out what each report includes, how much they cost and when you would need them.

Valuation report

This is the mortgage lender's valuation report which any mortgage lender will insist on. It is a simple survey carried out by your mortgage lender's approved professionals to ensure your home is worth the money they are lending you. Is this survey detailed enough to give you a full picture of your intended property?

What does a valuation report include?

The valuation report is intended to be just that. It is just intended to report back a figure that your property is worth in its current state. will show up serious defects that affect the property's value but it won't give you a warts and all picture of your home.

The valuation report takes into account:

  • The property's general condition
  • Value of recently sold similar properties

After the report you are entitled to know the value but remember it is purely for the lender's financial security, not yours. You may get back reports of serious damage such as obvious damp or cracks that would affect value but unlikely anything beyond what you would have noticed yourself when viewing - this is NOT a comprehensive survey.

How much does a valuation report cost?

Typically, a valuation report will cost from around £250 but it will be based on the property location and valuation (Londoners, you know this means double). The mortgage lender, for reasons of trust, will appoint their own valuation expert, which means you have no opportunity to shop around.

Is a valuation report right for me?

If you are buying your property with a mortgage it will be obligatory. So yes, you are getting one and that's final. The question is - is this enough?

If buying a new build this valuation is probably sufficient, but anything else and you are taking quite a risk.

Home buyers survey

The home buyers survey comes in addition to the valuation report. Often, when applying for your mortgage, you will be offered this as the second of two options. Option one being the valuation report above and option two the home buyers report and the valuation report. The home buyers report is intended to be a more detailed inspection than the initial valuation report.

What does a home buyers survey include?

A home buyers survey will take into account:

  • Identify any significant major faults that could threaten the value of your property
  • Test for damp in walls
  • Investigate drainage and damp proofing
  • Assess insulation of property

How much does a home buyers report cost?

It will cost around £300 to £500. It does not include the valuation report remember so with that you are looking at £550 to £1000. However, although the lender may offer the home buyers report inclusive of a valuation report this one you can shop around for. You will still have to let your lender supply the valuation report but the additional checks done with the home buyers report can be done separately so if you think you can find a better deal elsewhere you are free to do so.

Is a home survey right for me?

Probably. If you are buying anything less than a new build or want that peace of mind, go for the home buyers report. It will not be enough however if you are planning renovating or purchasing a house that has been heavily structurally altered or you are planning on doing the same.

Full structural report

This is the daddy of all the home surveys and is definitely the most comprehensive and expensive. This survey is always carried out by a qualified chartered surveyor and is the most detailed survey that will give you a full report into the condition of your property.

What does a full structural report include?

This survey includes:

  • Identify any significant major faults that could threaten the value or structure of your property
  • Test for damp in walls
  • Investigate drainage and damp proofing
  • Assess insulation of property
  • Provide in depth information regarding the construction of your property and materials that were used
  • Condition of the roof
  • Woodworm or other insect infestations
  • Rot or damaged window frames
  • Recommendations for any areas of concern
  • Identify on going maintenance areas
  • Give estimates of repairs as an optional extra

How much does a full structural report?

Again, it will depend on location and property size and value but you will be looking at up to £1000 on average. Remember this does not include the essential valuation report so add that to the bill too.

Is a full structural report right for me?

If you intend to purchase a house that has had a lot of structural changes such as extensions or one that you plan on restoring then this is the one for you. It may also be necessary for unusual constructions or anything particularly tall or large.

Why house surveys are essential

Although these surveys may seem an optional additional cost encountered in the spiralling cost spree that unfortunately comes with home buying, they're absolutely essential. Accurate home surveys can save you a lot of money and heartache in the future if there is something seriously wrong with your new home.

It's very easy to be taken in by a dream property but it's also very easy to hide potentially major problems such as damp and cracks in walls with the use of wall paper or clever positioning of furniture.

So don't go in blind when you buy, although an unwanted expense getting adequate surveys done may even help you lower the price of your intended property if it is in need of repair and alterations.

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