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Treacodactyl

What's the point of a Building Survey?

I've more or less been advised to not bother with a building survey (by a surveyor) on a newish property (just over 10 years old) as it'll not tell me any more than a Homebuyers Report, which in turn isn't really going to tell me any more than I already know as I have a reasonable knowledge of buildings.

I have a couple of specific questions but they have said they can only be covered by extra reports. For example, I have a question about the drains but have been told only a drains specialist can advise.

I'm trying not to turn this into a whinge, but is there much point to surveys if they no obvious faults to investigate or is it just something you pay for some peace of mind?
alice

We've only ever experienced the very basic survey - both as buyers and sellers, and they really aren't worth the paper they're written on. IMHO. Neutral
JohnB

When I bought my last house, the surveyor found a damp problem, and put me onto a company that could deal with it. That was before I saw programmes about damp treatment cons on they telly. They totally trashed most of the house by stripping plaster in almost every room, and I never did recover from the chaos. I later found things the surveyor didn't report on that could have caused damp, but don't believe there was a problem in the first place.

This time I'm not using a surveyor. I've been told the house has been surveyed several times and no problems have come up, but of course I can't rely on that. It's had lots of surveys because people have pulled out for an unrelated reason. I got a very nice man who knows a thing or two about olde worlde buildings, and is well known on here, to look it over, and he was happy. If it falls down I can rebuild it to PassivHaus standards!
jema

I sold my brother out first house, we had a basic survey done and then a few years later he had to have one done.

The surveys could have been on totally different houses, it really seemed like someone had randomly filled in a tick list of 3 or 4 issues a house that age might have.
wipka84

I'd get one for piece of mind.

Depending on what people instruct their surveyor to investigate and report on will affect how detailed and therefore how likely they are to find a problem.

Its possible that the building surveys most people see are done at the most basic of levels, with very little scope in the instructions from the mortgage lender.

Have a survey and if a problem is missed that should have been spotted by the depth of survey you instructed them to do, you'd have a case for finding the building surveyor negligent and possibly liable for the cost of the repairs.

People should realise that surveyors cant be specialists in everything. You dont get the same guy in to fix your plumbing as you do your electrics so why expect a surveyor to be able to do the same.
JB

When I first bought a house I was suckered into having a survey done and also having more than the basic survey done. It was a complete waste of money as they couldn't even count the number of rooms correctly and refused to look at things which I would have considered basic let alone for the more expensive survey ("so I paid extra and you didn't think to put your head into the loft"). For most house purchases surveyor, like solicitors, are a complete waste of time and money. They will tell you nothing you couldn't tell yourself and if anything does need further investigation they won't investigate it.
Treacodactyl

wipka84 wrote:
I'd get one for piece of mind.

Depending on what people instruct their surveyor to investigate and report on will affect how detailed and therefore how likely they are to find a problem.

Its possible that the building surveys most people see are done at the most basic of levels, with very little scope in the instructions from the mortgage lender.

Have a survey and if a problem is missed that should have been spotted by the depth of survey you instructed them to do, you'd have a case for finding the building surveyor negligent and possibly liable for the cost of the repairs.

People should realise that surveyors cant be specialists in everything. You dont get the same guy in to fix your plumbing as you do your electrics so why expect a surveyor to be able to do the same.


But a building survey seems to give so many exclusions and suggests so many other reports I'm not sure there's much come back. As for asking specific details I've asked for two things and both are excluded and to be honest I can't see why.

The only thing I can think of is if nothing is flagged up and something serious appears after sale the house building insurance would be more likely to pay.
stumbling goat

so much is not covered by surveys that i don't think they are worth having. any surveyor now puts comments on such as this could be a problem and would need further investigation by a specialist firm.

there may have been subsidence 200 years ago and this may re-occur?

the drains smell, they may be blocked or have been or will be or might be or one day could be?

i have seen so many surveys that actually say nothing yet suggest so much.

i have always just had the basic homebuyers report. the most recent one failed to notice that my garage had suffered subsidence, that there was a gas supply to the house, and that my neighbours extension was overhanging my land.

IMHO you would be best getting a mate in the building industry to have a look and tell you what needs doing.

sg
JohnB

The survey I wrote about that found damp was done 18 months after the previous owners bought the house. Their surveyor didn't find a problem. I got the purchase price reduced by 1400 and the previous owner claimed it from their surveyor.

Quite a few years later when I was thinking of moving, I went in the estate agent that their surveyor worked for. They recognised the house immediately I mentioned the name, and made a comment on it. I didn't dare say that I thought my surveyor was wrong!

It was a small town with only 2 local surveyors!
Treacodactyl

Good point, yes they would give you more clout to get money off a purchase. This particular sale the property looks in very good condition. Also interesting to know that if anything crops up when you come to sell you might have come back against your surveyor.
wipka84

Law of Limitation sets out the time barriers that claims have to be issued by.

With your surveyor you'd have a simple contract.

Contract: 6 years from date of breach if a simple contract or 12 years from the date of breach if executed as a deed.

Tort: Six years from the date of damage; or three years from the date of knowledge of damage, subject to a 15-year longstop.



If you found or know of a problem that falls within these periods it would be prudent to act sooner rather than later where contracts are formed by deeds. The Law Commission are looking at changing the rules to combine contract and tort with the proposed limitations:

Three years from the date of knowledge subject to a 10-year longstop.
Bebo

We nearly bought a 15th century hall house a few years ago. Because it was grade II listed and that old I got a specialist historic buildings surveyor to do a thorough survey. It was expensive (about 1800quid) but worth it. Roof was stuffed (hand made Kentish peg tiles aren't cheap to replace), rising damp, lots of other areas of damp (bad guttering etc etc), some structural timber issues plus a host of other more minor things. As a result we didn't buy it (seller wouldn't accept a reduced offer). Probably just as well as the OH is 6'4" and every room downstairs had beams that he would have whacked his head on and upstairs he couldn't stand up straight in any of the rooms.
Helen_A

On both occasions we've bought a house we've had a fairly basic survey done. (one house brand new, this one built mid 70's)

But we've used a Structural Engineer (by happy coincidence the same chap rofl, we didn't do it on purpose, first time he was rec. to us by DPs boss; this time I worked the 'net to find a local firm, and got the 'oh, I did a survey once for another person with your surname down in sussex....') who also happened to do 'surveys'... On both occasions they found interesting things, that would not have been flagged up on the homebuyers reports, but they looked at them anyway. (and this time it lead to us getting an electrical inspection/report that found a few nasty things that then got us a decent discount on the house as we'd have to fix them.... whole story there though, not-lololol Surprised Shocked )
beean

I've had building surveys done on both our first house we bought, and on the next house we moved to. Both old houses (one from 1680's, then this one from 1760's). The first survey, in retrospect, was rubbish: it didn't even pick up the leaky roof, rotting window frames, etc.
However, the cost of a house vs cost of a survey makes it more worthwhile IMO. I guess it depends on age /type of house and how knowledgeable you are.
vegplot

Bebo wrote:
Probably just as well as the OH is 6'4" and every room downstairs had beams that he would have whacked his head on and upstairs he couldn't stand up straight in any of the rooms.


I'd be alright then.
Bebo

vegplot wrote:
Bebo wrote:
Probably just as well as the OH is 6'4" and every room downstairs had beams that he would have whacked his head on and upstairs he couldn't stand up straight in any of the rooms.


I'd be alright then.


Me too. There are advantages to be a shorta**e Laughing
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