Do I need a survey when I purchase my new home?
Do I need a survey when I purchase my new home?
Theresa Coutts

25 November 2022

A survey is always advisable to ensure that you are aware of any physical problems with the property before you become legally committed to the purchase. It is important to remember there is no duty upon the seller to disclose to you any physical defects in the property. You should arrange a survey as soon as possible, to ensure that the result will be available to you before exchange of contracts.

If you are purchasing the property with a mortgage, your lender will carry out a valuation of the property, and a copy of this valuation may be sent to you (not always as the valuation is prepared for the lender). This valuation will have been prepared following a superficial inspection of the property. It is not a survey and will not reveal sufficient information about the state of the property to enable you to decide whether to proceed with your purchase at the agreed price. As the valuation has been carried out on behalf of the lender, it is unlikely that you would have the right to sue the surveyor who carried out the valuation should it later transpire that the surveyor was in any way negligent in the preparation of the valuation report.   We have acted on a recent purchase whereby a surveyor picked up a defect with the property which was significant but this was not revealed by the lender’s valuation report.   Buyers must therefore be aware of the limitations of mortgage valuations.

There are three main types of survey.  These vary in scope and cost, which will depend on the property size, location and value.  Typically, the bigger and more valuable the property, the more the survey will cost.

The types of survey available are:

  • Homebuyer report
  • Full structural survey
  • Snagging survey (new build properties)

A mortgage valuation report is not a survey – it is merely a basic valuation of the property.

A Homebuyer Report is a survey done to a standard format set out by the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors). It is generally considered to be most suitable for conventional properties built within the last 150 years, which appear to be in reasonable condition. It will include an estimated cost of rebuilding the property after fire (required for insurance purposes) and also an open market valuation of the property.

A full structural survey is a comprehensive inspection of a property. It is particularly suitable for older properties, listed buildings, properties that have been substantially altered, or a property which you plan to renovate or alter. A full structural survey does not include a valuation of the property.

A snagging survey is carried out on new build properties and will check for any problems with a new build property.  It would be advisable for this to be carried out before legal completion of your purchase.

Following either type of survey, your surveyor may recommend further specialist reports be carried out, such as a timber and damp survey, a heating inspection, an inspection of the electrical installation or a wall tie corrosion survey. The reports recommended by the surveyor will of course depend upon the age and condition of the property. Remember, once contracts have been exchanged you will be legally committed to the purchase of the property. It is therefore vital that any surveys or inspections that you arrange are carried out before exchange of contracts, so that you have time to consider the outcome before proceeding. You may wish to renegotiate the price, or even to withdraw from the transaction, if inspections reveal the property to be in a worse condition than you had expected.

If you are unsure as to which type or survey will suit your requirements, a surveyor should be happy to discuss this with you before you instruct him.

If you are looking for a Conveyancer and have some further questions about the process of buying a house, please contact the Conveyancing Team here at Phillips Law who would be happy to assist/answer your questions.

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