The best way to reach an informed decision on such an important investment as a home is to have a professional survey and valuation of the property which interests you. Before you decide to go ahead and commit yourself legally, you can minimise the risks by asking a qualified surveyor to answer these questions for you:
RICS and ISVA members also offer two forms of survey which are specifically designed to help homebuyers:
(formerly called a structural survey) A Building Survey is suitable for all residential properties and provides a full picture of their construction and condition. It is likely to be needed if the property is, for example, of unusual construction, is dilapidated or has been extensively altered, or where a major conversion or renovation is planned. It is usually tailored to the client's individual requirements. The report includes extensive technical information on construction and materials as well as details of the whole range of defects, major to minor.
(usually called 'The HOMEBUYER Service') By contrast, the HOMEBUYER Service is in a standard format and is designed specifically as an economy service. It therefore differs materially from a Building Survey in two major respects.
Even if you are seeking a mortgage - and may be paying for a Mortgage Valuation report - it is still advisable and prudent to arrange a survey by your own surveyor. The Consumers' Association Which? magazine and the Council of Mortgage Lenders both give this advice. The reason is simple: the Mortgage Valuation report is prepared for the lender, not for you - the borrower. It answers only the lender's questions concerning the appropriate security for your loan. You cannot rely on it to answer the questions which concern your personal interests.
The Service, the inspection, the report and the valuation - all are explained in detail in the accompanying Description of the HOMEBUYER Service, but the highlights are:
|HOMEBUYER Survey & Valuation||Building Survey|
|Type of property||Conventional houses, flats, bungalows, etc., in apparently reasonable condition||Any residential or other property, in any condition|
|Type of service||Economy package in standard form||Custom-made to client's individual needs|
|Objects of service||To assist client to: (i) make an informed judgement on whether or not to proceed; (ii) decide whether or not property is a reasonable purchase at agreed price; and (iii) assess urgent and significant matters before exchanging contracts.||To provide client with: (i) assessment of construction/condition of property; and (ii) technical advice on problems and on remedial works.|
|Special features||Focus on urgent and significant matters.||Details of construction/materials/defects.|
|Valuation||Integral part of HOMEBUYER Service.||Provided as agreed extra.|
|Form of report||Compact, fixed RICS/ISVA format.||Usually much longer, in surveyor's format.|
© THE ROYAL INSTITUTION OF CHARTERED SURVEYORS 1997
“ Mr Woods and Staff, Thank you very much for all your advice, help and support in selling dad's home. It hasn't been an easy time and you have always been very friendly and sensitive during the transactions. Best Wishes, J and R. ”