Buying a house is the biggest purchase of your life, full of emotion that can lead to expensive mistakes. Around 1 in 5 homebuyers rely on just a basic mortgage valuation and get caught out with expensive repair bills once they move in. These bills are often many times more expensive that an initial RICS Building Survey. My advice would be don’t save the few hundred pounds a Building Survey costs, to then spend a few thousand pounds putting right a unforeseen problem.
I remember my first house, which I soon discovered, had just about every known building problem. Here are just a few of the nasty things that were highlighted in the Building Survey;
- Woodworm and Wet Rot – the ground floor was completely rotten and full of woodworm, it collapsed onto the dirt floor below after we moved a heavy wheel barrow inside to start work!
- Rising Damp – the plaster was hanging off the walls like wallpaper and there was an attractive crusty tide line running around all of the ground floor walls showing how the dampness was creeping up and down.
- Dangerous Wiring – there was an ancient fuse board with a selection of varying sizes of fuse wires lying on top. Cables were hanging from the ceiling lights and the wrong circuits were wired back to the wrong fuses.
- A Roof Leak had gone unnoticed for years and this had rotted through the rafters to the rear of the house and left the lath and plaster ceiling sagging down in the bedroom.
- The drains and gutters were blocked and the outside walls were going green in places where the water was cascading off the roof and this had started to find its way inside the house.
I still bought the house but armed with my Building Survey it was for a lot less than the asking price. All of these issues could have been described as a total disaster and possibly your very own worst nightmare. However knowledge is power and everything was not quite so bad as you might first think. Not only did the Building Survey pick up the very obvious building defects, it also provided me with detailed photographs, an explanation of the problems and budget costs to put the defects right. Many of these I was able to cover with the reduction in the asking price.
Understanding the structure and condition of a building is very important, and knowing how it might be possible to alter or extend in the best way should only be undertaken with careful consideration and proper professional advice. When you are having your Building Survey undertaken, we at Chawton Hill always recommend you meet with your RICS qualified Surveyor and ask as many questions you can about the building and discuss your plans for any internal alterations and possible extensions.
A good Surveyor will be happy to provide valuable advice ranging from the condition of the building, thoughts on how the Party Wall Act 1996 effects the property, the scope and merits of proposed building work and will be able to assist you with this from the start to the finish. It could be the best few hundred pounds you’ve ever spent!
Steve Holmes, Director Chawton Hill
For more information on what’s involved in a Building Survey please see our What’s in a Building Survey post