The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), has previously unearthed that 4 out of 5 buyers do not commission a survey on a property before purchasing it. This concerning figure is attributed to a number of factors; primarily the misconception that the mortgage valuation conducted on behalf of the bank will flag us any major faults, and also that purchasers simply see it as needlessly spending hundreds of pounds when they already know they are going to buy the property.

1 – Let’s be clear: A Mortgage Valuation is simply confirming that, should you default on your loan, the building is worth enough money for the bank to recoup their losses. It will have been commissioned to protect your lender’s interests, and even if the property is down valued you are unlikely to get detailed information about its faults. All that will happen is that your lender will either proceed with your discussed loan, or revise (and reduce) their offer.

2 – Just because you can’t see the problem doesn’t mean it’s not there. In the UK, we operate in a “buyers beware” market, meaning that sellers aren’t legally obliged to disclose any information about a defect in the house, even if they know about it. A RICS consumer survey found that 20% of homeowners that decided against getting a survey ended up paying, on average, over £5,000 in remedial work. Don’t just balk at the price of a survey; remember it’s just a fraction of the asking price, and can save you considerable sums in the long term.

3 – Knowledge is power. If your report contains details about damp, dry rot or subsidence, it doesn’t mean you have to walk away from the sale. If you’re desperately in love with the building, use these facts to renegotiate the asking price or get the seller to complete the repairs before you move in.

4 – What if you’re certain there are no faults with the property? Well, will it hurt to have the support of a qualified professional with experience in inspecting property for defects, or will it just help you sleep a little more comfortably at night?

5 – RICS surveyors are indemnified to the value of the property, so if they miss a substantial fault with the building, you can claim against them for any losses incurred. Are you that confident in your ability to spot structural problems?

6 – Even when purchasing a newly-built home, it’s important to understand that it’s possible for things to have been constructed poorly, and that the 10-year NHBC warranty only covers minor and major defects in the first 2 years. If you notice small faults with a property older than 2 years, the NHBC won’t necessarily cover the repairs.

7 – Just because an older house has been standing for centuries doesn’t mean it’s capable of standing for centuries more. If previous owners haven’t taken proper care of its historic materials, you can quickly end up with an expensive wreck on your hands. A Building Survey will flag up any causes for concern, and also advise on short- or medium-term repair work.

8 – Beyond the physical condition of a building, a survey will look at the legal aspects of the property. This includes boundary disputes, maintenance history, leasehold information, appropriate Listed Building Consent and adherence to planning permission and building regulations.

By commissioning a survey you’re getting a professional second opinion from someone that is not only experienced and qualified in inspecting homes, but has probably seen similar buildings in the area and is insured against any mistakes that do occur. Without a survey, you could be walking into a money pit completely blind. Is it worth the risk?