The valuation survey carried out by your mortgage company is a basic survey that will only give you a general overview of the property. For a more detailed building survey you should consider a full structural building survey, which although expensive, will give you peace of mind. Shop around and get plenty of quotes, as prices can vary (budget £500 – £1,200 for your structural survey costs depending on the size and value of the property).
If you are purchasing one of the following then a detailed full structural building survey is vital:
- A building which is very old, dilapidated or listed
- Buildings of unusual construction
- Properties that have had extensive alterations or require major alterations
- Renovation properties
More specialist surveys can also be carried out on aspects such as foundations, damp proofing, or tree roots, either by a specialist within the firm of surveyors or by an independent specialist surveyor.
The report you receive when you request a full structural survey will be extremely thorough and very long, as surveyors are legally obliged to inform you of all the findings of the survey. From the building house survey checklist, the report will find out:
- The location and technical information on the construction of the property and the materials used
- Major and minor defects and what they could mean and the possible cost of repairs
- Results of damp testing on walls Damage to timbers – including woodworm and rot
- The condition of damp-proofing, insulation and drainage (though drains aren’t tested)
Don’t be put off by a long list of minor defects. In a full structural survey, surveyors try and cover themselves and tend to show the worst-case scenario for anything they discover. From a safety point of view, surveyors and structural engineers tend to err heavily on the side of caution. Much of the repair work that they advise may not be necessary, at least in the short term. A building survey dose not include a valuation, but your surveyor can provide this separately.
If, as a result of carrying out a full structural survey, your surveyor suspects that the property may have a structural defect he may advise you to commission a specialist structural engineer’s report . The cost of a structural engineer’s report will vary considerably according to the nature of the fault that they are investigating. Ask for a quote before you proceed. If you need a structural engineers report you should consider the purchase very carefully. Any major structural defect defect is likely to reduce future saleability as the property may be difficult to mortgage.
It is not hard to find a surveying company. Asking for recommendations from your lender, solicitor or estate agent is probably the easiest way of finding a reliable surveyor, or you could contact one of the professional trade associations for details of surveyors in your area. The Yellow Pages also lists many surveyors who can carry out a full structural survey for you. If you need a specialist survey, make sure you instruct a surveyor with expertise in the relevant area who will already kow of many local issues which may be on your structural survey checklist and get quotes to determine your structural survey costs.