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frequently asked questions
Frequently Asked Questions

A. What Report should I choose?

There are three main types of survey:

  • Valuation: this will be carried out by your mortgage company if you need a mortgage to buy the property, but can be used for other purposes including Matrimonial settlement, Probate or Taxation purposes.

  • Homebuyer: this is a basic survey that will give you a general overview of the property and includes a Valuation.

  • Full Building Survey: recommended for older properties and those in need of work, or simply for peace of mind. Although expensive, it is often worthwhile.

Homebuyer Survey

Often referred to as a Level 2 or Scheme 2 survey.

This type of report is based on a format devised by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and is particularly suited for properties constructed since about 1900 although in many instances, it will be appropriate for many Victorian properties, especially those of conventional type built during the latter part of the 19th century. The report is  laid out in an easy to read form, and is designed as an ‘economy package’. The report outlines the principle constituent construction elements under standard headings and advises on Urgent or Significant matters that affect value, with Action Points where appropriate and allows you to decide whether your intended purchase is reasonably priced whilst making you aware of any major pitfalls prior to exchanging contracts.

Urgent Matters and Repairs: defects judged to be an actual or developing threat to either the Fabric of the building or to personal safety. It is advisable to have these put right as soon as possible after purchase (and in some cases, even before).

Significant Matters: these matters are typically not urgent, but can be a collection of more minor defects which when taken together would be considered in negotiation over the price paid. It also includes those individual items, whilst not in need of urgent attention, but still sufficiently serious to be reflected in the market price for the property.

You will find that this report represents good value for money. It is the most popular type of survey available and can be carried out by a surveyor for you at short notice if required. It is not suitable for larger houses, Grade I or Grade II Listed property or those of individual character even when constructed since approximately 1900, and in these circumstances it is likely that a prudent course of action is to upgrade the level of inspection to a full building survey.

A. What will a Homebuyer Survey cover?

A Homebuyer survey is produced in a standard format, defined by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). It is designed for houses and flats built after 1900 which are of convential construction and reasonable condition.

Although based upon a thorough inspection it is less detailed than a building survey. It will include the general condition, any significant defects in accessible parts of the property and comment on the existence and condition of damp proofing, insulation and drainage (although the latter will not be tested). Walls will be tested for dampness and timbers for damage including rot and worm. The recommended reinstatement cost for insurance purposes will be given as well as a market valuation.

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Building Survey

Often referred to as a structural survey, or a full building survey, this is a detailed visual survey, and can be completed on all building types.

One of the main aims is to give you as the prospective buyer maximum confidence and assurance and to ensure that you are proceeding with your eyes open. It is the most detailed of our standard reports, and therefore the most expensive.

It is an in depth report written in a long hand form often amounting to 40- 50 pages in length together with Appendices containing Maintenance Notes,  a Glossary of Terms and a Schedule of Photographs.

This type of report can be tailored to a clients’ individual needs, and typically can include additional information on specific defects, feasibility of proposed alteration and/or extension / loft conversion work,  or budget costings (where agreed beforehand). An insurance rebuilding figure can also be included (at additional cost).

We will inspect all parts of the property that can be accessed from the ground floors, fixed stairs or other vantage points. The surveyor will carry a three metre ladder and we will open all available/known access hatches, traps and manholes etc. that can be opened safely. The building survey will usually cover the following areas:

  1. Detailed information on construction
  2. Technical advice on performance of the elements and reasons for problems
  3. Recommendations on remedial work
  4. Advice on future maintenance

Despite many attributes, our surveyors do not have x-ray eyes,  and vendors would not take kindly to us causing damage to parts of their property without assurance that this will be made good in the event that the sale does not proceed. Therefore, unless we have written permission from the vendore before the survey,  inevitably there will be hidden parts of a building that we cannot inspect, and you will be made aware of these areas. Even so, we are trained to ‘follow the trail’ and advise you if we suspect hidden defects, and a course of action required. Please contact us for a fully inclusive quotation

Further information and a full copy of the RICS Guide called "Understanding Property Surveys" can be obtained by contacting the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Telephone 0870 333 1600 or Email, Website

A. What will a Building Survey cover?

A building survey involves a detailed examination of all accessible parts of a property and can be tailor-made to suit your individual needs and concerns.

It will advise in detail on the general construction of the property, its stability, the need to carry out urgent repairs and other potential expenditure. The report will contain a full description of the premises and the structural components, finishes and fixtures and a statement of their condition so far as they are exposed and accessible. It will advise as to the seriousness of defects listed and possible remedies. The walls will be tested for dampness and the wood for rot or worm. There will be comments on the existence and condition of damp proofing, insulation and drainage (although the latter will not be tested) Recommendations for any further specialist inspection will be given.

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A. When should I have a Building Survey?

A building survey is a comprehensive inspection suitable for all properties but especially recommended for:
* All listed property
* Those built before 1900
* Any building constructed in an unusual way regardless of its age
* Properties you are planning to renovate or alter in any way
* Properties which have already had extensive alterations

A. Why should I pay for a Survey?

Houses and flats are not always what they seem. Defects are often not readily apparent or are deliberately concealed. Buying a property is a major investment with ongoing obligations so it is essential you find out all you can about the condition of a property you intend to buy or lease.
At worse, serious defects may be found and at best you will have peace of mind of knowing you are going to live in a sound home.

Many clients, armed with the full facts, are able to negotiate for works to be done or the price reduced. Others are prevented from making a costly or ill advised purchase.

A. What is a Valuation?

A valuation is provided by a Chartered Surveyor and is a formal written document. It gives a simple description of the property being valued and takes into account the location, accommodation and condition and will usually reflect readily apparent defects which could affect value. IT IS NOT A SURVEY.

Many people believe estate agents give valuations of property. In general, unless they are professionally qualified members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (recognised qualifications are FRICS & MRICS) they do not. Most estate agents when providing guidance on an asking price for a property are giving a market appraisal.

A. What is a Mortgage Valuation?

This is a basic description of the premises setting out only the defects which are readily apparent from a brief surface inspection which will affect the adequacy of the property for mortgage purposes. It is not a survey.

A. When do I need a Valuation?

  • BUYING A PROPERTY - A valuation gives you peace of mind that you are paying the correct price when you are purchasing a property for cash
  • TAX PURPOSES - Capital Gains Tax, Inheritance Tax
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