Moving home can be a challenging time, whether it’s heavy financial costs or concerns about your new property. There are many important decisions to make, not to mention – is this the right home for me? Fortunately, home buyer surveys can provide ease of mind by using expert evaluations to assess the condition of a property, helping to reduce worries about unexpected costs in the near future. But home surveys are usually an additional charge to an already expensive situation, so it’s important to consider what they entail and whether or not it’s worth paying for one so you can make an informed decision.
What is a home survey?
A home survey is a review of a property conducted by a surveyor, which highlights any issues related to the property. They are often carried out for prospective buyers, once an offer has been accepted. The surveyor will inspect the property and compile a report with findings.
What does a home survey cover?
There are various different types of surveys, which largely depend upon the age or type of property, as well as the homebuyers’ needs. Home surveys conducted according to RICS standards range from Level 1 to Level 3, where the higher the level, the more comprehensive the survey. Level 2 is known as the HomeBuyer Survey, which covers everything from ceilings, walls, windows, floors and the roof, to drainage, insulation, damp-proofing, energy services and more. This is generally the most popular survey, as it covers a wide range of areas and is suitable for properties in good condition.
For older properties or if you’re looking to do a renovation, a Level 3 Building Survey might be more appropriate. These types of surveys delve deeper into the property’s condition and look beyond the easily-visible, such as looking under floorboards.
Do I need a home survey?
Not everyone buys a home survey. It is not a legal requirement, and the choice is down to the prospective homeowner. In fact, recent research found that one in 12 homebuyers completed without one in 2019/20.
While surveys can often seem like an additional cost, they can also prevent much greater expenses further down the road. The same study found that 42% of home surveys that year identified issues with a property, which may have otherwise been overlooked during completion.
In some instances, findings from a home survey can be grounds for renegotiating the asking price, ensuring you get a fair price and don’t overpay. The research also reported that homebuyers who found problems with their property through purchasing a survey were able to bring down the asking price by an average of £5744.
Before deciding, it’s always advisable to make sure you’re informed on what different surveys entail and what level is most suitable to your budget and property. Chatting to a qualified Chartered Surveyor about your options can be a useful step in deciding whether or not to purchase one.
How important is a home survey?
There are many reasons why you should get a home survey, despite it not being a legal requirement to obtain one when you purchase a home. One of the key reasons they are recommended before buying a property is that a home survey can be the difference between paying out a one-off fee, versus paying out much larger sums in repairs further down the line.
They can also ensure a homeowner purchases a property with all the information about its condition, so they are more likely to be prepared and budget for any future repairs and less likely to regret their decision to buy. Moreover, a home survey can provide timescales on renovations, which can give you a more realistic move-in date on properties that are undergoing restoration. From enhanced contractual management to solving disputes, obtaining a home survey can offer a wealth of benefits and simultaneously prevent or diffuse problems.
What are the benefits of paying for a home survey?
If you choose to purchase a survey from an RICS Chartered Surveyor, you will receive a detailed report that complies with their regulations. The RICS is a globally recognised professional body, and so their surveys are designed to be impartial and reflect the highest professional standards. They’re generally more in depth and comprehensive than many home surveys offered for free, and are therefore more likely to provide an accurate assessment of the property. Furthermore, a home survey that complies with RICS standards may also be more useful in negotiating an asking price given the reputation of an RICS status.
Other benefits of a home survey include:
- The survey can highlight major expenses that may need to be addressed in the near future, such as a defective central heating system or dried out rot on window frames. Should you choose to move into a new or old home, there might be hidden issues that could cost you a lot of money in the future. Therefore, getting a property surveyed before moving in will ensure that you can avoid unnecessary spending.
- A home inspection can uncover hidden dangers that could be costly or hazardous, like asbestos in flooring or dangerous wiring systems.
- Surveys often assess building infrastructure and alert prospective buyers of compliance with legal regulations, such as energy efficiency requirements and fire safety codes.
- Surveys can inform potential buyers if there are any party wall agreements in place between neighbours which must be respected when it comes time for renovations or construction on the property after purchase.
- An experienced housing inspector can provide an overview of the overall state of the property and present educated signs of its future maintenance costs, so buyers know exactly what they’re getting into.
- Ensures a definite deadline for home renovations, which helps things move faster. You might be told that a renovation to fix the roof on the property you are interested in will take a month. However, the owner and contractors might be lying to you to keep you engaged. Whereas a home surveyor will know how long such projects can take and tell you the truth. Likewise, they can hurry the restoration project along (should something flag up in the home survey report) along and ensure you get a definite deadline date.
- Resolves disputes: There will likely be disputes involved in your home moving process, should there be issues with the property. These can cause frustration for both parties, which can end up in heated discussions. You might not understand exactly what the issue is and therefore, be left angry or confused. Using a home surveyor you will be able to attain the right knowledge to understand the issue(s) and have easier conversations with the homeowner and/or estate agent.
- Better contractual management: A well-written and prepared contract is essential for any home purchase and move. All details need to be finalised and accounted for to ensure that every party knows what to expect of the property and its construction works. A home survey expert will ensure that the contracts are proofread and up to standard so that you know every fine detail of what will go on.
How much do home surveys cost?
While it may seem like an additional expense in the already high-cost endeavour of purchasing a property, when viewed in the context of the potential costs of unexpected repairs or structural issues that might arise down the line, the cost of a survey is a justified and sensible expense. It’s a proactive step to minimise any potential risks and protect your investment. It’s always advisable to not take risks with such a significant purchase.
Typically, it’s the buyer that pays for the home survey, and the price depends on:
- The level of survey you choose
- The market value of the property
- The location of the property.
Generally, a Level 2 HomeBuyer Survey can cost between £400 and £1000, whereas a Level 3 Building Survey tends to start at £700. Most surveyors will be happy to give you a quote for a more accurate estimation.
Can I get a home survey for free?
A handful of surveyors offer services for free, however these are distinctively different from RICS Chartered Surveyors offering the Level 2 HomeBuyer survey and Level 3 Building survey. They generally cover a small number of problem areas, and therefore might not identify an important issue.
Although home surveys are not a requirement, and you may be able to get one for next to nothing, understanding the value of purchasing a home survey from an RICS Chartered Surveyor is important. RICS home surveys are detailed and comprehensive, and while they may incur costs, research has shown that a quarter of homebuyers who didn’t have a survey were hit with unforeseen bills averaging over £3500 for repairs. If you’re worried about your budget, or want to find out more, discuss your needs with a surveyor and get an accurate estimation of costs to help make your decision.
Contact us for more information
For more information about property surveys and how they can protect you when purchasing a property, feel free to contact us at CJ Bloor Property Consultants. Our team of experts is here to help guide you through the process, ensuring you can make an informed and confident decision about your property purchase.