It goes without saying, of course, that buying your home is a pretty expensive business – indeed, there’s unlikely to be any other purchase you make in life that is more expensive. It’s not just the sheer scale of the purchase price itself, though, but the myriad other costs that inevitably come in its wake – solicitors fees, mortgage arrangement fees, insurances, removal charges, and, one that often gets overlooked, the cost of a survey.
The last of these – the survey – is further complicated by the fact that it comes at a range of detail, and therefore price. You might choose a basic survey and valuation for between £100 and £300 (depending on the property) or you might choose a full structural survey that could set you back more than £800 or so. Which should you choose?
Getting a simple survey and valuation of any property you want to buy is likely to be an inescapable necessity. If you need a mortgage, for example – and who doesn’t – the lender is almost certainly going to want to ensure that the amount of the loan advanced is at least equal to the current, professionally-valued price you will be paying. The value of the property, after all, is the lender’s security against the mortgage itself.
As a condition of granting a mortgage, therefore, all lenders are likely to require a minimum, basic valuation – as defined by the profession’s Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Although this type of valuation may be required by your mortgage lender, it is you who will be paying for it. Typically, it compares property values according to location, age and condition and is also likely to highlight serious faults which could affect the particular property’s valuation.
Though you might have paid between £100 and £300 for it, however, such a valuation hardly amounts to a survey of the building and should be seen as only the most basic of the basic.
If you are serious about buying a property and really want to know about its condition – before you buy, or as a potential negotiating tool to bring down the price – you are more likely to go for the RICS-sponsored and authorised HomeBuyer Report.
Although this will cost you more, the outlay might appear money well-spent in view of the several hundreds of thousands of pounds you are likely to be spending on the purchase itself.
This survey and valuation is likely to run to 25 or so pages and usefully categorises the overall condition of the property into one of three broad categories:
- Rating 1 (coloured green) – which means that no repairs are needed at present, with the property being maintained according to normal standards;
- Rating 2 (coloured amber) – when defects have been identified, but these are not judged to be serious or urgent, given normal standards of maintenance;
- Rating 3 (coloured red) – when defects have been identified as serious and in need of repair, replacement or urgent investigation.
Full structural survey
If the property you have chosen is old or of especially unusual construction, however, you may want to consider even further security and peace of mind in the survey you commission.
Called a full structural survey, this is the most detailed, top to bottom, roof to foundations, investigation of the structure and fabric of the property. It might take the whole day for the surveyor to complete his or her survey and you might need to pay £800 and more for the service.