A Building Survey, Condition Report and the Home Buyer Report
WhatMortgage explains why you should know the difference between a valuation and the various types of surveys available when you purchase a house or flat.
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To be fully protected get your survey carried out when you have an offer accepted on a property to find out about the condition of the building and whether you are paying the correct price for it.
The right kind of survey can help you find out about the condition of the building and, if there are problems, give you a powerful reason for negotiating the buying price down or asking the seller to fix the problems before you move in.
The Building Survey is the most comprehensive available. It is suitable for any building, especially older buildings or those constructed out of unconventional materials and is not property type or age specific. For most houses or flats built of traditional stone or brick construction and in apparent good condition a Homebuyer Report is more than enough.
A Building Survey will examine the soundness of the structure, its general condition and all major or minor faults. More specialist surveys can also be carried out on aspects such as foundations, damp proofing, or tree roots, either by a specialist within the firm of surveyors or by an independent specialist surveyor. The report is extremely thorough as surveyors are legally obliged to inform you of all the findings of the survey.
A full Building Survey normally takes much longer than the one or two hours required for the Homebuyer Report. The survey report can also take a long time to produce. A Building Survey costs anything up to £1,000, depending on the price of the house.
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The Condition Report is the most basic survey you can get and will give you an overview of the property’s condition and highlight significant issues, but won’t go into detail. It will provide traffic light ratings for the condition of different parts of the property. It’s an entry level inspection that is appropriate for modern houses in good condition.
Crucially, the most significant difference in this report from any of the others is that the Condition Report does not include a valuation of the property or advice on future repairs and maintenance.
Home Buyer Report
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors introduced the current Home Buyer Report in July 2009. It is designed to be user-friendly and for the most part avoids technical jargon and employs the traffic light Condition Ratings scheme.
Green means no repair is currently needed on the property and it should be maintained in the normal way.
Amber highlights defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered to be either serious or urgent.
Red pinpoints serious defects that need to be repaired, replaced or investigated urgently.
The report is divided into easily readable and logical sections and, importantly, includes a number of appendices which tell buyers, or any legal advisers, what they ought to do next.
Probably the most important section is the surveyor’s overall opinion of the property and whether or not the surveyor considers the agreed purchase price to be reasonable. Of equal note is the section related to energy efficiency and the Energy Performance Certificate that must be prepared before a property is marketed.
Elsewhere there is an overview of the condition of the services based on a visual inspection.
The surveyor will not test the services as, for example, if the property is vacant the services may have been turned off or disconnected but the surveyor will recommend further investigations if these are considered appropriate.
Lastly, the surveyor will look for any potential problems such as flooding or the presence of asbestos-based materials.
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