Instructing a Surveyor when buying a house or flat
A survey will give you valuable information on the condition of the property you have chosen to buy. A survey is not to be confused with a mortgage valuation as explained in Is a Mortgage Valuation the same as a Survey?
Obtain quotations from Chartered Building Surveyors. It is a good idea to ask friends, family or your solicitor for recommendations before instructing a surveyor. Remember you do not have to have the survey carried out by the person who carries out the mortgage valuation. You can also contact www.ricsfirms.com to find a surveyor in your area.
Reports are produced in different formats and have differing names including Structural Surveys, Building Surveys and HomeBuyer Reports. See What type of survey do I need? Ask for a sample report and the surveyor’s terms of engagement to make sure the service you choose meets your needs. Some inspections will be visual only, while others may be more detailed and include lifting a sample of floorboards to inspect the floor structure where this is possible without causing damage.
If you plan to carry out any alterations then inform the surveyor prior to the date of the survey so that these can be considered. For example, if you plan to build an extension it is useful to know where the drain runs are located, also, if you plan to remove any walls you will need to know whether they are load bearing or not.
If you have noted anything of concern then bring this to the attention of the surveyor prior to the inspection.
Decide whether you require any additional services such as an insurance rebuilding cost or valuation, prior to instructing a surveyor. There may be additional costs if the surveyor has to return, for example to take measurements to calculate the rebuilding cost.
If you are buying a buy to let property then inform the surveyor before the survey is carried out. The surveyor can then advise on any relevant matters, particularly safety issues such as fire protection, lack of adequate balustrading/guard-rails, lack of safety glass to low level glazing, etc. Also, it is important to have the electrical installation and any gas appliances checked regularly (and prior to a tenant moving in) to ensure they are in a safe working order.
Allow the surveyor to inspect the property without you. This will enable the surveyor to give you the best advice. Some house buyers like the idea of being at the property whilst the survey is being carried out so they can ask questions but it is far better to allow the surveyor to do their job uninterrupted. You will be issued with a report after the survey has been completed and will have the opportunity to ask questions if needed. You must remember that the house an any contents belong to someone else (even if the house is empty or forms part of a deceased estate) and you should not assume that you can be attend particularly if the owner is not present.
Forward a copy of the survey report to your solicitor as there are likely to be items which require input by your solicitor. If you have a digital copy this can easily forwarded by email. See Instructing a Solicitor.