Purchasing a Property – Choosing your Survey

Purchasing a Property – Choosing your Survey

You will buy your property in its current state and condition.  It is therefore very important that a professional ascertain the current state and condition so that you know what you are getting into.  There are various categories of survey but they largely fall in to the following three types:

1          Basic Valuation – This is what your lender will usually arrange for their own reference.  Most do not go any further than simply making sure that the value of the property is correct and that if they were to call in the loan they would be able to realise their loan based on this.  You may receive a copy of the valuation.  Sometimes there is further information on it such as the valuer had noticed removal of a load-bearing wall or a private right of access.  However, it really does simply go to value rather than condition.

2          Home Buyers Survey and Valuation – This falls somewhere in between.  It is carried out by a qualified surveyor and ranks matters in order from 1 to 3 as to their severity and the urgency in arranging remedial action, together with recommendations.  It is a shorter report than a full structural survey but more in depth than the basic valuation above.  It includes matters which affect the structure itself and which may affect the price.

If your lender is undertaking a basic valuation it may be possible for you to pay a small additional sum for it to be upgraded to a Home Buyers Survey.

3          Full Structural Survey – This is the full detailed survey that goes further than the others as the surveyor’s inspections will be more comprehensive and invasive, insofar as it will be very detailed.  It is also rather expensive but recommended for older properties

Your choice as to which level of survey, will depend upon a number of factors including the age of the building (if it is a new property it will have a separate guarantee such as NHBC or LABC which will cover major structural defects for up to 10 years), location (such as the property being within an area where historical coal mining may affect stability) and type of materials used in its construction.

When to arrange it

You must ensure that the survey is undertaken before exchange of contracts and then forward to us any relevant sections of the report as may be required for our attention.  There is likely to be a section that gives recommendations to the legal representative, such as the requirement that a specific search be undertaken, or evidence that Building Regulations consent was obtained for certain alterations.

The above information on surveys is separate to the matters that we will deal with which will include: investigation of title, any rights of way or easements, guarantees that are available for any of the appliances, boundary responsibility and whether or not the road is publicly maintained or maintainable privately.

Different issues will apply to a leasehold property but you will be reported to in detail on this in due course.

Who pays for it?

The buyer, ie you, will be responsible for payment of these fees.  The fee for the basic valuation that is undertaken by the lender, will usually be included in the fees that you pay for the mortgage being arranged.  However, you should check this carefully in case the valuation fee is being deducted from the mortgage amount that you get on completion.

If you are arranging your own survey, separate from the one provided by the lender, you will need to liaise directly with the surveyor and then supply to your solicitor a copy of the summary or relevant sections needing their attention.  We cannot advise on the survey itself but will be able to address matters affecting the legal title.

For more information on buying, selling or letting a property, please contact our property team at Stafford on 01785 211411 or Rugeley on 01889 583871.


The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances. (50587)