It is often said that buying a property is the biggest financial commitment most people ever make, but what is often overlooked is that the right survey will draw your attention to defects that you did not know existed. A Home Survey lets you make an informed, balanced and considered decision about the purchase before you legally commit to ownership.
Having a valuation undertaken by your mortgage lender? Well that is NOT a survey! Instead, it is an inspection carried out on behalf of your mortgage lender to determine the amount (value) and terms of a mortgage offer. It is not a detailed survey and you should not rely on it.
The RICS Homebuyer Report, and SAVA Home Condition Survey, are level 2 surveys. They are most suitable for conventional properties built from about 1940 onwards and which are in reasonable condition. The report will describe the condition of the property, identify any risks and potential legal issues and highlight any urgent defects. It will also include advice on defects that may affect the value of the property with repairs. The inspection and report are detailed but less comprehensive and briefer than a Level 3 building survey.
View an example Level 2 Report here
The Level 3 Building Survey (often referred to as a full structural survey) is recommended for larger or older properties, those with extensions or if you are planning major renovation works.
This is the most comprehensive report, it includes the inspection as per a level 2 survey but adds an in-depth analysis of the property’s condition, including advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options.
Our reports are compliant with the RICS Home Survey Standard and are always completed by RICS qualified surveyors.
View an example Level 3 Report here
Our Listed Building Surveys provide a detailed and comprehensive report of a building that is listed as either Grade II, Grade II* or Grade I. These are buildings of architectural merit or historic interest, and many will date back to the 1700’s or even earlier, our eldest so far was built circa 1440!
Our Listed Building Surveys are a more comprehensive Level 3 report, you could say a Building Survey on steroids! The inspection is carried out by a Chartered Surveyor who is also a Registered Building Conservation professional.
The survey provides specific information on the building’s condition, historic elements and is in-line with the RICS Level 3 Building Survey standard. It looks at the property listing to confirm if alterations have been made and gives period appropriate advice for maintenance of the fabric of the building.
What is included in a Listed Building Survey?
- The surveyor will examine any changes made to the building, comparing these against the listing for discrepancies
- Assessment of any changes made to the property over time
- The report will provide a full description and advice on any defects found
- Outline of repair options in line with planning requirements, plus consequences of inaction
- Consider future maintenance options
- Thermal imaging survey to identify any damp, trapped moisture or thermal inefficiencies
- A High-level inspection of the roof structure, chimneys and rainwater goods using a telescopic pole camera or a drone (weather and restriction dependant)
- Detailed report with recommendations within 5-10 working days of inspection
Our Buy To Let Surveys (both Pre-Purchase and Periodic) are designed for a traditionally constructed property that are, or will be, let to private rented sector tenants. The survey helps landlords protect their investment while safeguarding the home for tenants by combining a survey of the asset condition with a review of the Health & Safety matters affecting the property.
There are two parts to our Buy-to-Let Survey report:
- A Level 2 survey inspection, equivalent to an industry-standard Home Buyer Survey, with multiple photographs.
- A review of the 29 hazards profiles identified by the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS), the system used by local authorities to assess the safety of properties in the rental sector.
Many of the hazards that may be present at the property are the result of condition-related defects. i.e. black mould found on the walls could be due to the nature of the property construction, cracking of external render or badly-worn brickwork. But it may also be due to tenants not using or providing any ventilation. Surveyors have the skills required to ‘follow the trail’ and identify the root cause of any hazards that may be present.
The survey is however not a full assessment under HHSRS, but our surveyors have undergone technical training in HHSRS; therefore understanding what the regulatory powers that be would look for when judging a rental property against the Housing Health & Safety Rating System.
The report considers all 29 HHSRS hazards profiles, and how they may affect, or be affected by, the construction and structural condition of the property. The report is structured so as to provide a mechanism to carry out an MOT-type annual Health & Safety review, with the full survey commissioned every five years or so. The annual review will be at lower cost than the full survey product.
The benefits of a Buy-to-Let Survey include:
- All the benefits of a Level 2 Survey, plus
- Consideration of health and safety matters that are likely to have an impact on tenants occupying the property – considers all 29 hazard profiles identified in the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
- Separate Decent & Safe Homes hazard (DASH) review report
- Helps your tenants know you care, and provide, decent homes for them, sending positive messages and helping to reduce complaints
- It helps landlords and letting agents to mitigate their responsibility in ensuring properties within the private rental sector are fit for human habitation
- It protects the landlord’s investment by ensuring that the fabric of the building is maintained, and defects identified
- It necessitates a regular review of the property which can highlight emerging issues which can be dealt with at an early stage
- Landlords can off-set the cost as a business expense, significantly reducing the financial impact of the survey
- The early identification of defects results in lower repair costs than experienced with untreated defects
Finding faults with your new-build house may sound strange considering it is ‘new’, but like anything that is built by multiple people issues do occur. In our experience poor workmanship and incomplete works are commonplace.
We inspect new-build houses and apartments for defects, raising issues in a detailed and comprehensive photographic snagging report for your developer to act upon quickly.
We offer 2 types of snagging surveys:
- The New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) pre-completion snagging inspection. This is generally conducted within the period between exchange and completion on a pro-forma report in line with the NHQB standards.
- Our standard Snagging Report, for post-completion properties up to 2 years since they were built.
Ideally you should have your snagging inspection approximately 1-2 weeks before completion. Not only is this arrangement more convenient for you to account for the least disruption, it is also easier for the site to work from one comprehensive snagging list rather than you raising issues over several months once you move in.
Some developers will not allow a snagging survey prior to you moving into the property, this is not ideal but if you have bought through a developer such as Bovis, Persimmon, Barratt, Bellway, Bloor, Taylor Wimpey, Redrow and so on, we recommend that the snagging survey is carried out during the first 2 months of moving into the property. The reason for this is in relation to the HBF satisfaction survey which you will receive circa 8 weeks after completion. It is important for your builder to address the items on our snagging survey to ensure they receive a positive rating when you come to complete the HBF satisfaction survey.
We raise snags into a photographic snagging report that you’ll receive within 5 days of our site visit. Whilst a snagging survey is not classed a structural building survey, we raise issues ranging from poor cavity wall insulation, draughts, leaks, poor brickwork and roof issues. We also raise aesthetic issues ranging from damaged kitchen units to paintwork blemishes. During a typical inspection we raise on average over 100 issues and provide a report to summarise our findings.
Our Standard Snagging Inspection will include the following checks on your new-build property:
- High level camera inspection of roof and guttering
- Loft inspection
- Basic function test on electrical sockets
- Thermal imaging of radiators
- Plumbing tests to inspect for leaks
- Co (Carbon Monoxide) safety test
- Heating system check using a thermal camera
- Joinery issues such as doors, staircases and skirtings
- Fire safety measures
- Level flooring, square walls and flat ceiling inspection
- Poor workmanship with brickwork and fenestration
- Plaster and paintwork
- Garage and groundwork
A Specific Defect Report is used to assess a particular problem with a property’s structure or condition. Any related building matters which are found during the inspection will also be covered. The survey goes into a similar level of detail to a Level 3 Building Survey, but does not cover the whole property, just the specific area of concern.
Specific Defect Reports are suitable if you believe that the rest of the property is sound, but you have concerns about one aspect.
Our specific defect inspection allows you to get detailed information on the extent of the issue and the costs of rectifying it; this would allow you to make an informed decision on whether to proceed with a purchase or renegotiate the price. Alternatively, it could be something in your own home that you want to check for peace of mind, this is normally the case with the discovery of damp. Sometimes, however, a vendor may wish to get a second opinion on an issue highlighted by a buyers’ pre-purchase survey, to aid negotiations.
A Schedule of Condition survey is a way for Landlords and Tenants to protect themselves and their interests, by outlining and agreeing the state of a property at the outset of a letting. The objective is to determine and document the condition of the building so that any existing defects are identified prior to any commitment being made. It will also note potential future defects that might need attention later. Leases usually stipulate that the tenant is responsible for any repairs during and at the end of a tenancy so it is important that the tenant is not committed to any liability above this. A good schedule of condition survey can often be used to negotiate with a landlord to ensure that existing defects are corrected prior to the start of the new lease.
We undertake both commercial and residential property schedules of conditions and find the benefit of having an accurate Schedule of Condition is that it provides a benchmark against which the condition of a property, structure or land can be assessed against and which can help mitigate future repairing obligations and/or potential claims for damages.
We provide an independent building claims validation service to insurers, brokers and commercial clients.
With RICS, BMDA & CILA trained surveyors we are highly experienced in delegated and non-delegated property inspection, assessment and settlement of claims, all of which includes a scope of works required.
We have worked with numerous household insurers, restoration companies and international loss adjusting firms, often in tight timescales, to provide a quality end user service whilst maintaining crucial KPIs.
Please contact us to discuss your requirements.
We are able to provide an RICS trained Expert Witness (Chartered Surveyor, MRICS) for Housing Disrepair (HDR) cases. Please contact us to discuss your matter and how we can assist further.