Only 20% of home purchasers having professional building surveys? This is pennywise pound unwise in the worst way in my opinion and here’s why I think this.
Because of what was going on in the economy and the housing market that is obviously of interest to me, I found myself doing a google search on the subject.
What came up was an intriguing article which suggested that on average only approx 20% of all home purchasers are presently having a professional building survey carried out before purchase.
I read several similar articles, but here is a link to one of them :
Why is this foolhardy when the bank already made me have a valuation surveyor of their panel go round to the property?
The first reason is related to focus and scope.
The valuation surveyor is primarily interested in making sure that the asset is worth the purchase price such that if a mortgage is defaulted the bank can sell the property and in theory recover the money.
Valuation survey reports tend to be more financially focussed.
Other Reasons to have a proffessional survey identifying extensions / alterations and pointing solicitor to make sure all necessarry signs offs were in place .
Identifying alterations and providing a good checklist for the solicitor to ensure due process has been followed and that the extensions, loft conversions, knock-throughs et all at the property have been properly approved for planning and building regulations before you buy.
This to make sure the alterations are bonafide insurable structures.
When carrying out our professional surveys we identify all alterations and flag up any clear breaches of building regulations.
There is also a checklist in our surveys of what alterations to the property we can see has been made, for the solicitor to follow up on in order to make sure that the extensions etc. have been properly signed off by the authorities.
If they have not, it can cause building insurance issues with the policy often stating something to the effect that the insurance company only covers lawful and compliant structures.
This can mean that say if there is a fire and a claim is made, the buildings insurance company might not cover the non compliant or areas of the building that have not been signed off with a building regulations completion certificate.
Issues can also arise when you come to re sell the property if alterations have not been signed off properly with future potential purchasers looking to buy the home off you, taking the view that their offer was made in good faith in the understanding that all areas of the property were bonafide , lawfully constructed and signed off as compliant.
If the future purchaser has had a professional survey carried out and the solicitor has followed through checking all the paperwork only to find for example that a large extension has not been signed off, they might seek to reduce their offer to you on the basis of costs that they would incur to regularise the extension / conversion in order to sell on the property in the future with a clean bill of health so to speak.
It is no real defence for the vendor when they say “We didn’t do it, it was already there when we came here” referring to the massive extension.
The above is often the response from a vendor who didn’t have a professional survey carried out when they bought the property.
From the above, you can start to see why a professional survey, whilst being an expense, might pay off longer term.
Identifying other site wide factors
A professional building survey will often look into the potential flood risk for the area and identify other potential hazards such as for example a high retaining wall which has no guardrail at the top posing a potential health and safety risk or prompt that you establish what rights a neighbour might have over the land for example if there is a gate enabling common access in a terrace scenario.
Going in the loft-space
Going in the loft-space With our professional building surveys we normally go into the loft space of the property as you can tell a lot about the condition of the roof and other aspects of the property from the loft.
We understand that some valuation surveys do not include an inspection inside the loft.
When inside the loft, we are able to see the firebreak walls and gables (if the property has a gabled roof design) which enables us to get a better idea as to whether the property is of traditional construction i.e. from normal brick, block or tile type materials (to use the lenders usual terminology) or if the property is of no fines concrete, early timber framed, or some other form of system built or non-traditional construction.
This is sometimes important as lenders often have unhelpful policies on lending on non traditional construction properties. Also the only real way to gauge the condition of a roof structure is to go inside the loft.
Often asbestos items such as old asbestos cold water storage tanks can be found there and sometimes the loft is the only way to get some sight of the electrical installation and whether or not is is aged or appears competently installed.
Signing off :
I could go on and on but you get the point.
The purchase of a home is the most important and expensive purchase someone is likely to make in their lives.
It is important to get it right before you actually buy, rather than living there happily for a while only to have the whole experience sullied when you come to sell on in the future and someone decides to reduce their offer due to something you simply did not know about because you didn’t have a professional building survey carried out.
Kindest regards Mike
If you need us to carry out a professional building survey please give us a call on 01268 856154.