If you are thinking of buying a home, then of course you’re likely to want to know more about the property you may be moving in to. You may be put off by the expense of a full-blown survey – particularly since there’s no way of knowing whether you will actually go ahead and buy the property. So what are some of the ways you might approach the different forms a “survey” might take?
1. Energy performance certificate – this is the energy rating included in a Home Information Pack and frequently made available within the property details you receive from the estate agent. The certificate hardly amounts to a survey, of course, but might form the basis for a very rudimentary understanding of how easy it might be to keep yourself warm;
2. Home Condition Report – this may tell you a little bit more about the overall condition of the property. You might find it included in a Home Information Pack (but it is optional and not obligatory). Neither is it a survey, nor is the report written necessarily written by a surveyor;
3. Lender’s valuation – if you are looking to arrange a mortgage, the lender will need to satisfy himself that the property is at least as valuable as the amount you want to borrow. The lender will therefore need to conduct a valuation (though not necessarily visit the property). Confusingly, you might hear some people refer to this process as the lender’s survey – it is not a survey, however, but merely a valuation;
4. Homebuyer Valuation and Survey Report – you might also hear it described as a Homebuyers Report and is a “proper” survey in so far as it is endorsed by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and follows their standard format. It is probably the most widely conducted of surveys since it is suitable for conventionally-built properties that have been constructed in about the past 150 years – and you have the benefit of the surveyor’s professional valuation;
5. Building Survey – this is a full, bells and whistles, survey which – for a price – you are likely to commission if the property you want to buy has been extensively altered in the past, is a listed or old building, has been constructed in an unconventional way or is one which you plan to alter or renovate. It covers all major and minor defects and indicates the estimated cost of putting things right. A valuation of the property is not necessarily included in a Building Survey, although you can of course ask for one to be included (and pay any extra for the privilege).