Residential Building Surveys

Building surveysWe have particular knowledge and experience of thatched and period properties and if contemplating the purchase of an older property or one where it is evident that there are numerous defects, we would recommend that you consider commissioning a Building Survey. This is a thorough, although non-intrusive, inspection of the property that provides a detailed report with recommendations for approporiate remedial works along with an extensive schedule of photographs. As well as the overall structure and fabric of the property, the report looks at such matters as dampness, timber decay and movement, making further detailed comment on the services and drainage where possible. The report is concluded with a detailed executive summary where budget costings can also be included if requested.
We are pleased to discuss client’s individual requirements regarding surveys to ensure that the report is tailored to their needs and if purchasing without a mortgage, for example, an insurance reinstatement cost valuation can be included if required. .. back to top

Report on Condition

RICS Homebuyer's ReportSurveyors traditionally offer a range of products that are generally limited to full building surveys, RICS Homebuyer’s Reports and Mortgage Valuations. In light of the Government’s recent ‘u’ turn on the Home Condition Report survey and Home Information Pack the RICS have been giving renewed thinking to the general format of Residential Building Surveys and have re-formatted the Home Buyers Report  to more cloesely resemble the scrapped Home Condition Report.
Over the years we have recognised a need for surveys to to be better tailored to suit individual purchaser’s requirements where, whilst a full Building Survey may not be wanted, more information is required than presented in the basic survey packages. To this end we have set up a briefer form of building survey that covers in detail the main areas of structure and fabric, but leaves out some of the more clearly visible elements such as internal fittings and decorations which purchasers can clearly see for themselves.

This particular report works very well for the knowledgeable purchaser or for a building where a client wants a less detailed report on an older building for which the Home buyer’s Survey would not be appropriate.  As with our building surveys a detailed schedule of photographs is always appended and market appraisal and insurance reinstatement valuations can be incorporated as required.

RICS Homebuyer’s Report

RICS Homebuyer's ReportIf you indicate to your Lender that you do require some form of survey beyond the initial Mortgage Valuation they will invariably suggest that you have a Scheme 2 or Homebuyer Report. This is a short form report produced by the RICS that is primarily designed for conventional, relatively modern, property and in our opinion, if you are purchasing an old cottage or house of non-traditional construction the report will not be suitable. However for most modern properties, particularly those relating to a first time purchase, the Homebuyer Report can be a useful survey as this allows the surveyor to carry out a general inspection of the whole property, albeit in less detail than a traditional building survey, highlighting areas of significant defect and where urgent repairs are required and setting these against Condition Ratings. The report has the advantage of including a market valuation and assessment of rebuilding costs for insurance purposes. We prefer to have the opportunity to comment in more detail without the use of limiting standard phrases.
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Specific Defect

Specific Defect
We have identified an increasing requirement from both purchasers and owners of existing property to provide reports on specific areas of defect or concern. These can roughly be categorised into the following:

  • Roof covering and structure
  • Dampness and condensation
  • Timber decay and beetle infestation
  • Structural movement and cracking

If a full building survey or one of the briefer reports referred to above is not required we can, for a modest cost, produce a relevant and specific report on any of the above issues with recommendations and budget costings as necessary.
Such matters are often raised in a Mortgage Valuation Report and in order for the loan to proceed a further report by a qualified building surveyor or structural engineer is often required. We have regularly carried these out under separate instruction with the submission of a subsequent report explaining the implications of the defects enabling the sale to go through.
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Buying your own home is probably the largest single investment you ever make and our aim is to provide you with sufficient information to enable you to make an informed decision prior to entering a legal agreement to purchase.

We offer the full range of updated survey report formats that were revised by the RICS in 2019 and as a Practice are fully regulated by this our professional body.

These reports increase in detail and coverage and are devised to cover the full range of house types from small modern conventional estate built housing up to complex one off architecturally designed homes or rambling period and Listed Property as well as those in a neglected condition.

All of our surveys are hand written and tailored to the property in question with no standard templates used. We no longer offer the RICS Homebuyer report format, largely for that reason, but can add an Insurance Reinstatement Valuation for rebuilding costs to each of the survey formats listed above for a small extra charge if requested  with an informal opinion on market value if required.

We offer a full planning and design service and budget estimated costings and advice on the feasibility of proposed alterations can also be included in the report.

All survey reports are accompanied by a detailed photographic schedule.

All our reports detail matters that should be brought tothe attention of your legal advisors and comment on the EPC, the level 3 format exploring the feasibility of the recommendations made.

In the event of your buying a brand new home where a survey would probably not be appropriate we can look over the property and provide you with a Snagging Report in a simple tabular format.

Once the reports have been produced we are very happy to answer any queries you may have.

Please see the comparison between the 3 survey formats below.

RICS Level 1 Survey

RICS Level 1 Survey

This service is designed for buyers, sellers and owners, seeking a professional and objective report on the condition of the property at an economic price.

This level of service includes a general visual inspection, the report however being less comprehensive than a Level 2 or Level 3 survey where the report objectively describes the condition of the building, its services and the grounds highlighting relevant legal issues and any obvious risks to the building, people or grounds. The report is succinct and provides an assessment of the relative importance of the defects and problems. Where the surveyor is unable to reach a conclusion with reasonable confidence, a recommendation for further investigation would be made.

A Level 1 survey report does not include advice on repairs or ongoing maintenance and makes only a basic visual inspection of a sample of the different service systems where the surveyor will not lift inspection chamber covers to drains or septic tanks with only a general overview undertaken of the grounds or any outbuildings.

The surveyor will visually inspect only the parts of the roof structure and other features that can be seen from the access hatch where the less extensive inspection makes this report format suited to only conventionally built modern dwellings in satisfactory overall condition.

RICS Level 2 Survey

RICS Level 2 Survey

This level of service is for clients who are seeking a professional opinion at an economic price. It is therefore less comprehensive than a Level 3 survey where the focus is on assessing the general condition of the main elements of the property.

This intermediate level of service includes a more extensive visual inspection of the building than a Level 1 Survey along with its services and grounds, but still without tests. Concealed areas normally opened or used by the occupiers are inspected if it is safe to do so including roof spaces, basements and cellars. The report objectively describes the condition of the different elements and provides an assessment of the relative importance of the defects/problems. The surveyor will comment on any implications of the recommendations within the EPC. Where the surveyor is unable to reach a conclusion with reasonable confidence, a recommendation for further investigations will be made.

Although it is concise, this level of report does include advice about repairs and any ongoing maintenance issues and suits a broader range of conventionally built properties. It is however not suited to complex buildings, those that have been extensively altered or extended, unique or older historic properties or properties in a neglected condition.

RICS Level 3 Survey

RICS Level 3 Survey

This level of service is for clients who are seeking a professional opinion based on a detailed assessment of the property.

The service consists of a detailed visual inspection of the building, it services, outbuildings and the grounds and is more extensive than a Level 2 Survey. Concealed areas normally opened up and used by the occupiers are inspected if it is safe to do so including roof spaces, basements and cellars.

Although the services are not tested, they are observed in normal operation,i.e. are switched on and off where the operator has given permission and it is safe to do so.

The report objectively describes the form of construction and materials used for different parts of the property. It describes the condition and provides an assessment of the relative importance of the defects/problems. In addition it will cover the following:

  • Describe the identifiable risk of potential or hidden defects in areas not inspected.
  • Propose the most probable cause of the defects based on the inspection.
  • Outline the likely scope of any appropriate remedial work and explain the likely consequence of non-repair.
  • If costs are required, these would be budget estimates provided at an additional agreed fee, this service not automatically included in the report format.

Where the surveyor feels unable to reach the necessary conclusions with reasonable confidence they will referthe matter for further investigation if considered necessary as the Level 3 Survey would aim to provide the client with all the information they need to make an informed decision regarding their purchase.

The advice given in the EPC will be assessed.

This would be the report format recommended for complex, much altered and extended, unique and period property as well as those in a neglected condition.

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