Searches and Surveying … What’s the difference?
- May 1, 2015
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When you are purchasing a house for the first time, or even if you are a more seasoned purchaser the difference between a search and a survey can be confusing. It is common to get the two tangled and I aim here to give a bit more clarity between them.
Searches are carried out by the buyer’s solicitors, at the buyer’s cost, and cover a minimum of a Local Authority Search and a Water Search. You can, at your discretion, also instruct your solicitor to carry out further searches including Environmental Searches, Mining Searches Chancel Checks and so on. These searches are to establish whether there are any existing issues in your area or on the land that the property is built upon and alert the buyer to any potential challenges, your Local Authority Search will include such information and planning permissions and whether or not the surrounding roads are adopted. A water Search covers issues such as whether the property is connected to the main drains, whether the water supply is direct from the water or via someone else’s land, and whether the property is on a water meter or not.
There are currently 3 types of surveys available.
Standard Mortgage Valuation: If you have a lender they will require a Standard Mortgage Valuation and all of the high street banks will instruct their own surveyor to make an appointment and inspect the property. This inspection takes around 30 minutes and is a tick box form of what the Valuer thinks the property is worth, it will include questions such as ‘what material is used for the roof?’ and ‘what is the reinstatement value of the property?’. The buyer cannot rely on the results of this survey as it would have been commissioned by the lender and is for their purposes only. They may share the results of this with the buyer, but this cannot be relied upon by the buyer should anything happen to the property.
Homebuyer Survey: This is the first of the two in-depth surveys that the buyer may instruct a surveyor to undertake. The surveyor will spend several hours inspecting the general condition of the property commenting on areas such as the flooring, ceilings, appliances and the outside of the property to name but a few. The report is quite lengthy and can be daunting to look at but the surveyor will cover matters such as the expected cost of upkeep over the coming years or indeed advise whether you should instruct Builders/ Plumbers/Electricians to give quotes on parts of the property that look as though they are in a bad state of repair. It is worth going through these reports with a fine tooth comb to make sure you action all advice given to cover yourself should anything happen in the property. Bear in mind that the Homebuyer report was introduced as an option for flats and this only covers areas readily available to the surveyor, so for example if the surveyor is unable to enter the loft he will not.
A full structural survey (Building Survey): This takes things up a notch in terms of what is inspected by the surveyor and will cover matters such as sagging roofs and leaning chimney stacks, in many ways it is much like a Homebuyer and generally if the property is in a ‘good state of repair’ you will be advised just to have a homebuyer survey carried out. But remember, from a single inspection a surveyor will not be able to advise whether the property structurally sound and they may advise you to have instruct a Structural Engineer to carry out a survey if they feel that one is needed, which is a whole other ball game!!
I hope you have found my blog useful and enjoyed the read!