Do I really need a home survey?
The answer is, probably, yes. Why? You may love the house you've found, but think about this:
- Is it structurally safe?
- Is it going to need re-wiring or things fixing?
- Are lots of works required to bring it up to standard?
If it's going to cost you a lot of money and lots of time to correct, is it really the right house for you?
Conversely, if a survey suggests you need to make repairs worth thousands and you still want the place, you could potentially ask the seller to reduce the asking price.
In a Nutshell: A survey gives you security that the property is right for you.
Is a home survey a legal requirement?
No, it's not a legal requirement to have a home survey done on a house that you are buying. You may look at the costs of having a survey done and think the cash is better off in your own pocket. However, we would always respectfully suggest that you seriously think about commissioning a survey.
If it's a new house, then the survey you need won't be as expensive as a full survey on an older property that may have issues. If you have a survey that flags up issues, it could save you money in the long run.
In a Nutshell: Take a step back from the emotional thinking and think of your money and your investment, because that's what you're spending your money on.
Is a home survey the same as a mortgage survey?
No! As a condition of getting a mortgage approved, you may will have to get a survey done on the property you want. This is a survey the lender will do - via an independent surveyor - to make sure that they can be confident the property is worth what it is on the market for. A survey of this type isn't anywhere near as in-depth as a proper, structural survey and is sometimes done from a distance i.e. desk-top valuation.
In a Nutshell: Your lender survey and home survey are two different elements of the home-buying process.
What's in a Survey?
The type and level of survey very much depends on what sort of property you are looking to purchase.
If you are eying up a new-build, which should come with a warranty and certain guarantees, you should be looking at a low-level survey - a Condition Report. These typically cost a few hundred pounds and take a couple of hours to be completed.
A Homebuyer's Report, which costs a little more and is also a little more in-depth, usually contains advice on what needs to be done.
Full Building Survey
A Full Building Survey costs more, however, it is very thorough. It's ideal for an older property or one that is perhaps unusual.
In a Nutshell: Your surveyor should be a member of a recognised governing body, such as the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA) or Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Choose your survey based on what you need, not on the cost.
What Happens Next?
Your survey may well point out some defects and highlight what works needs to be done. You need to properly assess whether this is something you either want to do or can afford to do.