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Our own Steve Holmes (FRICS) explains the benefits of a building survey.

“It’s very easy not to see the ‘wood for the trees’ when we view a property for the first time. Not only do we have all the time pressures of the viewing, there is also the knowledge that there are now other willing buyers queuing up behind you to take a look at the possibilities of the house of your dreams while you have only minutes to ponder its merits. So many pressures and questions: The right house in the wrong road or the wrong house in the right road? Is it in the catchment area of that very desirable school, close to the station and shops? Can we extend it if it does not have the right amount of accommodation? If it has been extended then has this been carried out professionally and to a good standard. What about those cracks – what do they mean? There is a huge amount of information to take into consideration and all of this is condensed into a viewing slot, sometimes with the owner taking a keen interest and most certainly vetting your potential suitability. The decision is now yours, and this could be the biggest financial one that you make in your life. Suddenly this is not such a glamorous process and decisions need to be made.

The next stages in the buying process are crucial as it is vitally important to understand the bricks and mortar that you are buying and to get the process right to avoid abortive costs or a last minute problem that suddenly breaks the chain. The first step is to fully understand what it is that you are buying – you need a building survey.

Why do I need a survey? A survey will help you to fully understand the exact condition of the property and will provide you with a completely impartial view as to any defects or issues. In short, the building survey provides you with a professional opinion of the property. The survey will be thorough, factually based and will provide you with budget costs to enable you to understand the potential costs of any repairs. This type of cost information provided could be used to help you negotiate the price to reflect any undiscovered defects.

How much will the survey cost? The cost of the survey will depend upon whether you opt for a HomeBuyer Report or a full Building Survey. The survey price will depend on the size of the property, its age, construction and locality. You could expect to pay anywhere between a few hundred pounds up to more than a thousand pounds depending on the size and complexity of the building that you are buying.

Are there different levels of survey? There are two main types of survey. The first is a HomeBuyer Report, which is a general survey and includes a valuation of the property at the end and grades the condition of the property by a traffic light system with red for a serious issue, amber for less serious and green for good condition. The second type of survey is a RICS Building Survey. This survey was previously known as a Structural Survey, this type of survey is descriptive and records and analyses any defect found in the structure and provides a budget cost for the proposed remedial works together with a photographic schedule.

Will a survey save me money in the long run? It may prevent you from making a bad decision on buying a property that has inherent defects and problems. It will alert you to impending issues that could have a financial implication. The survey could save you money in further legal and professional fees as you may decide that the property has too many defects and issues and you therefore do not wish to proceed with the purchase. The information about the condition could be used to renegotiate the purchase price before the process has run too far.

Can the Chartered Surveyor advise on extensions and alterations to the property? If you have arranged our popular free ‘walk-around’ of the property with the surveyor at the end of the survey it would then be a good time to discuss the potential for extensions or alterations to the property. Many firms of Chartered Surveyors can also offer a wide range of services that may include the design of extensions and internal alterations. The inspection will give the Chartered Surveyor a good understanding of the structure of the building and the mechanics to enable a formed opinion about the possibilities.

What other services does Chawton Hill Associates Ltd provide? In addition to RICS Building Surveys in Surrey, Middlesex, Kent & Suffolk we provide party wall services, court compliant reports and we design and project manage extensions and new buildings, mainly in the Surrey region. We have experience in gaining planning permission on difficult sites including both commercial and residential schemes. Our aim is to seek out the maximum potential of any site and to provide our clients with the best possible, professional services available.

Read what home owners have to say about our Building Survey service on our Trustpilot page