What should I do after having a survey?

What should I do after having a survey?

There is plenty of information and advice about having a survey before buying a property, but not so much advice about what to do after having a survey.  Remember that the purpose of a house survey is to identify any defects.  Even if a property is in a good order it would be unusual for no defects to be noted.  Any minor items can be dealt with once you have purchased the property.  However, if a survey report reveals that extensive works and/or investigations are needed then some purchasers may be unclear about the best way forward.

Firstly, you should forward a copy of the report to your solicitor as there may be items which your solicitor may need to check such as:

  • Ownership and responsibility of boundaries.
  • Ownership and responsibility of drains.
  • Ownership and responsibility of any shared drives/access ways.

Typically, a purchaser should obtain quotes from builders before commitment to purchase (normally exchange of contracts).  By doing this, the purchaser will be able to decide whether or not to proceed with the purchase in full knowledge of the level of expenditure required.

In some cases, a vendor might offer to arrange for minor repairs to be carried out before the sale of the property.  However, for most works, if you plan to proceed with the purchase it is better to wait and have the work carried out after completion of the sale.  By choosing your own contractor you will be in control of the quality of work carried out.  However, you should still obtain quotation/s before exchange of contracts.

Sometimes further investigations will be required, eg, if a defect is suspected but cannot be confirmed within the scope of the survey.  Opening up may  be required (with the vendor’s consent) or a specialist (such as a drainage contractor, wall tie contractor, etc,) may need to attend.

If the survey report recommends further investigations which are disruptive the vendor might not be willing to have these undertaken.  For example, if ground floors need to be taken up to inspect floor timbers to check for dampness and/or rot then this may involve moving large amounts of furniture and may damage carpets.  If this is the case, it is better for a buyer to budget for the worst case scenario, such as removal of ground floors, replacement with a solid concrete floor, etc.  The investigations can then be carried out after the sale has completed.  If the works required are found to be less extensive then a saving will be made.

If the cost of repairs is found to be significant, you may choose to speak to the selling agent to check whether the vendor may renegotiate the sale price.  If the vendor is keen to sell the property and if their financial position allows them to reduce the price, either in part or in whole, then the estate agent will negotiate to agree on a selling price.  However, the vendor is under no obligation to reduce the price.  In some situations a vendor may not be in a position to reduce the price, particularly if the vendor has a high mortgage or needs to sell at or close to the asking price to be able to buy their next house.

Above all, after having a survey, read the report carefully and read it more than once.  Highlight any important parts, obtain prices for any works and carry out any further investigations (if possible) before exchange of contracts.

 

buying and selling a house

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Does my solicitor need a copy of my survey report?

 

The answer to this question is simple.  Yes, your solicitor should have a copy of your survey report.  Some solicitors may ask for a copy as a matter of course but many do not.  Your solicitor is not likely to have visited the property you plan to buy but your surveyor will probably have spent several hours carrying out an inspection before preparing the survey report.

It is likely that there will be items in the report which will need the input of your solicitor including:

  • Checking whether any extensions to the property (including loft conversions) have Local Authority approvals (Planning Permission, Building Regulation approval and Listed Building consent where appropriate).  Your surveyor is likely to note any recent extensions which your solicitor may not otherwise be aware of.
  • During the course of the survey your surveyor is likely to note any works which appear to have been carried out recently which would have required Building Regulation approval. Your solicitor should check whether Building Regulation approval has been obtained for any alterations to the property or any other works controlled under Building Regulations including formation of new openings in a wall, works to the drainage installation, etc.  Also, if cavity wall insulation has been installed then this will be noted by your surveyor and your solicitor should obtain the installation documentation to confirm that this has been carried out satisfactorily.
  • If any parts of the property trespass, ie, gutters, satellite dishes, trees, opening windows along a boundary, etc, then your solicitor can provide advice before you commit to purchase the property. Similarly, if any parts of a neighbour’s property trespass then advice can be obtained prior to purchase.
  • Confirming ownership and responsibility of boundaries.
  • Confirming ownership and responsibility for drain runs.
  • If you are buying a flat then your solicitor will need to check the lease and confirm your responsibilities for repairs and maintenance, including external and communal areas.

Your solicitor may be happy with a digital copy of the report rather than a hard copy.  This can easily be forwarded by email so can be read and acted upon a day earlier than a hard copy would be received by post.

So, even if a property looks to be in a good order, it is worth having a survey in the event there are issues which need to be checked by your solicitor.

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