How much does a survey cost?

How much does a survey cost?

As a rough guide, the cost of a survey for most properties will fall within the range of £300 to £1,200, depending on type of property, type of survey, level of detail, experience of the surveyor, geographical location, whether a valuation and insurance rebuilding cost are included, etc.  For larger properties the fee could be anything upwards of this figure.  If a firm is VAT registered then VAT will be added to the surveyor’s fee and so you should check whether the fee quoted is inclusive or exclusive of VAT.

A house survey cost will vary depending on a number of factors including:

  1. Size of property.  Clearly, a house with more rooms will take longer to inspect and this will affect the survey cost.
  2. Age of the property.  Many older properties have been the subject of alterations and improvements, some of which may be detrimental to the property.  Alterations give the surveyor more issues to consider during the course if the survey.
  3. Type of property, eg, house, flat, maisonette.
  4. Complexity of the property, eg, whether there are any extensions, whether any alterations have been carried out, whether there are any flying or submerged freeholds, etc. Typically, a surveyor carrying out a survey will ask the vendor about any alterations and other works which they have carried out.  However, some surveyors may simply report that a client ‘s solicitor should make enquiries on such matters.
  5. How detailed the report will be.  Survey reports vary considerably.   A surveyor who prepares a detailed report will clearly need to take more notes and photographs than a surveyor who merely reports “satisfactory” “in need of repair”, etc.

 

Survey with valuation and/or insurance rebuilding cost

A survey cost can vary if any additional services are required such as a valuation figure and/or insurance rebuilding cost. This will clearly affect the time input and therefore the cost of the report.

 

Survey cost when carried out by the mortgage valuer at the same time as the valuation

If you are taking out a mortgage then there may be an option to have a survey carried out at the same time as the mortgage valuation.  The mortgage lender will choose who carries out the valuation but remember that it is you, the buyer, who chooses who carries out the survey as this will be carried out on your behalf.  While this may be a cost effective way of having a survey, some purchasers prefer to have the survey carried out by a surveyor who has been recommended to them, eg, by family, friends or their solicitor.

 

Surveys on flats

Some purchasers are surprised at the cost of a survey on a flat.  Flats vary significantly.  A flat may be small, with, say, four rooms, but if it forms part of a large building then it is likely that the Surveyor will need to inspect the external parts of the block, or possibly other blocks on the site.  The terms of the lease must be checked before the survey is carried out, and all areas which the flat owner is either wholly or partly responsible for must be inspected.  This may include roof coverings, roof spaces, walls, drives, parking spaces, walls, etc.  In some cases a survey on a flat will take longer than a survey on a small house, and this is likely to be reflected in the price of the survey.

 

Obtain quotations

You can find names of Chartered Surveyors in your area by contacting the RICS Find a Surveyor facility on ://www.ricsfirms.com/

It is a good idea to forward the sales details for the property to a small number of Surveyors to obtain quotations.  When you obtain quotations for surveys, ask for sample reports so that you can compare the level of detail in addition to the price.  Also, ask who will be carrying out the survey and check that you are happy with their level of experience.  Remember that price is not the only factor in choosing a surveyor.

 

 

 

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What a survey report will tell you (and not tell you)

A survey report will tell you the condition of a property at the time of the inspection. It is not a guarantee that no other defects will occur during your ownership.

A survey report will provide you with sufficient information (after carrying out any further investigations, etc) for you to decide whether or not to proceed with the purchase, or, whether to renegotiate the purchase price as a result of the findings of the report. It will not specifically tell you whether you should buy the property or not.

A survey report will tell you whether there is any evidence of settlement or subsidence to a property. It will not tell you whether any movement will or will not occur in the future.

A survey report will tell you whether there any are defects to the visible parts of the property. It will not tell you the condition of any hidden areas. However, if there is a reason to suspect defects to hidden areas, (e.g., damp walls at low level and lack of ventilation to a sub-floor void may cause dampness, rot and/or woodworm to hidden floor timbers) then the report should point out the risk and recommend further investigations are carried out before you exchange contracts.

A survey report will tell you the visible condition of the service installations. It does not include a test of service installations such as the electrical installation, heating system, drainage installation, plumbing installation, alarm system, etc. However, the survey report will recommend whether such installations require testing by specialist contractors.

A survey report will tell you whether any materials or products were noted during the course of the survey which may contain asbestos.  However, this will not be an Asbestos Survey and will not include taking samples to test for asbestos content.  An Abestos Survey and any testing of samples would need to be carried out by a specialist asbestos company.

 

See also instructing a surveyor,     what type of survey do I need? How much does a survey cost? and what should I do after having a survey?


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Buying a 1930s house: what to look for – wall ties, dampness, lath and plaster, textured coatings

Many people are attracted to buying a 1930s house.  Their style and accommodation often meets modern needs with larger rooms and larger gardens than their modern equivalents.  This article deals with some of the issues commonly encountered when buying a 1930s house of traditional construction.

Buying a 1930s house

1930s houses are now in the order of 80 years old.  Some may have been updated long ago and may need updating again, whilst others may not have been touched for decades.  Consequently, when buying a 1930s house there are a number of common defects to look out for.

Roofs

If you are buying a 1930s house with the original roof covering then yes, it will definitely need replacing.

If the roof covering has been replaced using reclaimed tiles then it is possible that the nibs to some of the tiles may deteriorate and lead to early failure.  It is important to check the roof slopes for any slipped tiles.  Also, check that ridge and hip tiles are adequately bedded in mortar and that hip irons are provided at the lower edges of hips to prevent slippage.

If the roof covering has been replaced then check that there is sufficient ventilation into the roof space.  If insulation is provided at ceiling level this creates what is known as a “cold roof” and the roof space will need to be ventilated to reduce the risk of condensation within the roof space.  Ventilation is often achieved with ventilation openings in the soffit.  Sometimes when additional insulation is provided at ceiling level the ventilation openings at the eaves are blocked.  This can lead to condensation (and dampness) within the roof space and this can lead to rot and/or woodworm to the roof timbers and a reduced life of the roofing felt.  Ensure that insulation does not block any ventilation openings and check for signs of rot and woodworm.  Also, ask the vendor whether any timber treatment works have been carried out and whether there is warranty.

Wall tie corrosion

In the 1930’s many houses were built with cavity walls with steel wall ties.  With cavity walls, wall ties are needed to tie the two leafs of the cavity wall together to prevent separation/bulging.   However, steel ties corrode over time.  When the steel corrodes it expands and can cause cracking to horizontal mortar joints at tie positions and in some cases bulging of the outer leaf can occur.

Corrosion of wall ties is a particular problem in coastal locations and where black ash mortar has been used.

In some instances only part of a property may be affected, eg, the side of the property facing the prevailing wind.  If wall ties are thought to be corroded then a sample of ties should be checked by a specialist wall tie contractor or an independent surveyor using a borescope (instrument used to view inside the cavity) to inspect the part of the wall ties within the cavity.  In addition to installing new ties, some wall ties will require removal to prevent further cracking as the steel ties will continue to corrode and expand if they are not removed.  If the walls are rendered externally, then re-rendering may be required after the remedial wall tie works.

Dampness

Dampness in 1930s houses can be due to a variety of causes including cavity bridging, high external ground levels, a defective or bridged damp proof course, lack of cavity trays above openings, defective rainwater goods and/or plumbing leaks.

It is important to investigate the cause of dampness so that you know what works are required and who will be the best person to employ to carry out the works.   Don’t automatically employ a damp contractor.  A damp contractor may be the right person to deal with rising dampness and timber treatment, or tanking, but if the dampness is due to an overflowing rainwater hopper then it would be better to employ a general contractor.  It is possible that there is more than one cause of dampness, e.g., lowering external ground levels may help but dampness may persist if there are other defects which may be contributing to the dampness.

Don’t confuse penetrating dampness with condensation.  If corners of rooms have mould then this could be due to condensation, particularly if the house hasn’t been heated and ventilated sufficiently and if there are areas lacking in insulation.

Also, if wall plaster contains salts this may give damp readings even if the original source of dampness has been rectified.  Salts often remain in plaster which have previously been affected by dampness and will absorb moisture from the air.  Any plaster which contains salts should be hacked off and replaced as part of any damp proofing works.

Suspended timber floors

Suspended timber ground floors require ventilation to the sub-floor void to prevent high moisture levels which can lead to rot and woodworm to timbers.  Check there are sufficient sub-floor vents and make sure they are not blocked.  If suspended timber ground floors are springy this may indicate rot and/or woodworm to the floor timbers.

If the house has an extension with a solid floor check that there is still adequate ventilation to any remaining sub-floor voids.  Depending on the configuration of the house it may have been necessary to provide ventilation via ducts through the solid floor.

If timbers are built into damp walls then they may be damp and/or rotten and/or have woodworm.

If there has been insufficient ventilation to the sub-floor void  now, or at any time previously, then there may be beetle infestation/woodworm.

When buying a 1930s house, if there are any signs of rot, woodworm and/or dampness then it is a good idea to investigate the condition of the hidden floor timbers before exchange of contracts.  It is also a good idea to get quotations for any repair works and timber treatment before exchange of contracts.

Lath and plaster ceilings

Lath and plaster ceilings are common in 1930s houses.    They are formed with a series of timber laths fixed close together.  Plaster is then applied, using the laths to form a key.  Lath and plaster ceilings can become bonded over time and fail, i.e, collapse.  Failure of lath and plaster ceilings can occur due to water damage/leakage, rot or woodworm to the timber laths, or vibration.

When buying a 1930s house, check any lath and plaster ceilings for cracks and tap at regular intervals in each room to check whether there are any hollow areas.  Replace any defective  lath and plaster ceilings with plasterboard (unless it is a Listed Building with restrictions on the ceilings).  A cheaper alternative may be to line be the underside of the ceiling with plasterboard.  Replacing ceilings is an extremely dusty and messy operation and if possible it is better to carry out this work before moving in.

Textured wall and ceiling coatings

Some textured wall and ceiling coatings (including Artex) contain asbestos.  These were widely used during the 1970s but have also been used in other decades.  If such coatings are damaged, or if are likely to be disturbed by any planned works then samples should be tested to check for asbestos content.  If works are planned to more than one area of a property then it may be necessary to take samples in a number of locations as it is possible there could be different coatings within a single property (coatings may have been applied at different times).  It is also possible that the same area of wall or ceiling has more than one layer of textured coating.

Some works to textured coatings can be carried out by non-licensed workers and may not need to be notified, whilst other works may require notification to the HSE.

Visit the Health and Safety Executive website for further information on textured coatings:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/essentials/coatings.htm

Wiring

Even if a 1930s house has been rewired, unless this has been carried out recently the electrical installation is unlikely to meet current standards.  If you are having a survey carried out on the building then this will not include a test of the electrical installation as this is a specialist matter.  Have a qualified electrical contractor inspect and test the installation to check whether any works are required to update the installation.  Many buildings insurance policies require electrical installations to be checked at regular intervals.

Lead pipework

Check whether any parts of the water main, including any hidden areas, are lead.  Replace any lead feed pipework with potable pipework.

 

The above are some of the common issues which should be considered when buying a 1930s house.  However, this list is not exhaustive and is intended as general guidance only.  When buying a 1930s house, consider instructing a surveyor to find out the true condition of the property.

See also How much does a survey cost? and  What should I do after having a survey?

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What type of survey do I need?  Building Survey or Homebuyer Report 

What type of survey do you need before buying a house?  Surveys come with a variety of names such as Building Surveys, Structural Surveys, Homebuyer Reports, and Condition Reports.  Whatever the name, and whatever the type of survey you choose to have, you need to know that the contents of the report are going to give you the information you need to decide whether or not to proceed with your proposed purchase.

A survey isn’t only necessary to advise on the condition of the property and whether there are any defect.  The surveyor may also note issues which require input from your solicitor, or further enquiries or investigations.

Most house buyers would like to know the following:

  1. Are there any defects which need urgent attention?
  2. Are there any defects which require costly repairs which may exceed their budget?
  3. Are there any “unseen” items which are likely to require attention, e.g., wiring, drains, cavity wall ties?
  4. Are there any legal issues such as trespass, eg, overhanging gutters, overhanging eaves, trees, etc?
  5. Are there any factors which may affect buildings insurance such as a flying freehold?
  6. If any recent works have been carried out do they have Local Authority consents? This not only applies to extensions, but other works controlled under Building Regulations including formations of openings in walls, works to kitchens and bathrooms, works to service installations such as wiring and heating.
  7. Does the property contain asbestos? Asbestos can be found in many common materials in residential properties including textured coatings to walls or ceilings, floor tiles, sheet board materials, rainwater goods, some water tanks, man-made slates, etc.   The presence of asbestos containing materials is likely to increase the cost of any repair and alteration works if these need to be disturbed.
  8. Whether there are any known issues in the area such as subsidence, black ash mortar, pitch fibre drains, etc.

 

A mortgage valuation is not a survey

If you are taking out a mortgage on the property then be aware that the mortgage valuation is not a survey.  The purpose of the mortgage valuation is to confirm to the mortgage lender that the property offers sufficient security for the loan.  It is not intended to inform the buyer of the condition of the property and some mortgage lenders do not even pass a copy of the valuation to the applicant (the buyer).

For an average 3 bedroomed house a mortgage valuer is likely to spend around 20 to 30 minutes  carrying out the inspection, compared to around 3 hours for a survey (possibly more or less depending on the age and condition of the property).  For a mortgage valuation the valuer does not normally enter  into the roof space (head and shoulders inspection only) whereas for a survey the surveyor will carry out a detailed inspection of the roof space (subject to safe access being available).

Visit  http://www.rics.org/Global/RICS-HomeSurveys-a-valuation-is-not-survey-REVISED.pdf

The governing body for Chartered Surveyors is The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.  The RICS has produced information aimed at home buyers about the importance of getting a home survey.

View the following video entitled The Importance of Getting a Home Survey  https://youtu.be/LER9SPvdmRs

What type of survey should I have?

One of the most common types of survey is the RICS HomeBuyer Report.  This is a standardised report format suitable for most types of traditionally built property and is based on a visual inspection.  The Homebuyer Report will be carried out by a surveyor with one of the following qualifications – FRICS, MRICS or AssocRICS.

The Homebuyer Report was revised during 2016 and is now available either with or without a Market Value (Valuation) and an insurance rebuilding cost. The Homebuyer Report was previously only available with the Market Value and insurance rebuilding cost.

The Homebuyer Report includes a description of condition, colour coded condition ratings, comments on defects, advice on maintenance, an overall opinion and summary of condition ratings.  However, the Homebuyer Report does not include a detailed description of the construction of the building or detailed advice on specific defects.  It also excludes cost estimates for any repair works.

However, many Chartered Surveyors produce reports in their own format as an alternative to the Homebuyer Report, many of which offer more detailed information.  When you request a quotation for a survey ask what type of survey she they offer.  Also, ask for a sample report and the surveyor’s terms of engagement to make sure the service you choose meets your needs.  The inspections for some types of survey 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 during the inspection.   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.

Decide whether you require any additional services to the basic survey, 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.

View the following video produced by the RICS entitled Choosing the Right Survey (for consumers)

https://youtu.be/9r92bTZYrvA  h https://youtu.be/9r92bTZYrvAttps://youtu.be/9r92bTZYrvA

The different types of RICS surveys are described in the following 13 page document entitled A Clear, Impartial Guide to Home Surveys

http://www.rics.org/Global/RICS-Home-Surveys.pdf

Choosing a surveyor

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 are free to choose a surveyor of your choice.

Obtain quotations from Chartered Building Surveyors but remember that the level of detail within reports may vary and so choosing a surveyor is not solely down to cost.

The governing body for Chartered Surveyors is The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.  They hold a register of all Chartered Surveyors and their fields of practice.  To find a suitably qualified surveyor in your area visit RICS Find a Surveyor  http://www.ricsfirms.com/

Finally, whatever the name of the survey report, and whatever type of survey you decide to have, ensure the surveyor you instruct is local and experienced.  Also, ensure that the survey report will provide you with the information you require, in the detail you require.

See also What should I do after having a survey?

Source:  www.rics.org

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Instructing a Surveyor when buying a house or flat

Reports are produced in different formats and have differing names including Structural Surveys, Building Surveys and HomeBuyer Reports. Ask for a sample report and the surveyor’s term of engagement to make sure the service you choose meets your needs.

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.

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