It is often said that a property purchase is the largest single financial commitment you will make in your lifetime. It therefore makes sense to establish whether the property is affected by defects or other issues that might justify renegotiation of the purchase price - or that might otherwise come as an unpleasant surprise later. -
The Mortgage Valuation
If you are buying a home with the assistance of a mortgage, the lender will probably commission a valuation report, to confirm whether the property provides acceptable security for the loan. Although it is often paid for by the purchaser, the valuation is intended solely to satisfy the requirements of the lender. You should not rely on its contents, when deciding whether or not to proceed with the purchase, as it will not necessarily identify defects.
Before exchanging contracts, you should therefore seek specialist advice from a Chartered Surveyor.
So what are the Options?
Chartered Surveyors are able to offer two levels of survey report, to help you decide whether or not you should proceed. The first of these is known as a Building Survey (formerly known as a "Full Structural Survey") and the second is an Intermediate Survey, such as The ISVA HomeSurvey; which is available exclusively from members of the Independent Surveyors' and Valuers Association. Other types of intermediate survey are available. -
The Building Survey
A building Survey is a detailed report on the condition of a building. It will describe any defects found and provide advice on remedial works and future maintenance requirements.
The report is based on a comprehensive inspection and may often be tailored to your own specific requirements. You may, for example, opt to upgrade the survey to include additional reports such as an electrical report or a drainage test.
A Building Survey is suitable for all types of buildings but is almost certain to be needed if the property is very old, Listed, is in need of extensive repairs or if it is not constructed using traditional building methods and materials.
The ISVA HomeSurvey Report
The HomeSurvey report has been designed by the Independent Surveyors' and Valuers Association to include:-
Comments on the internal and external condition of the property (including an overview of the service installations).
Comments on any major defects or other shortcomings likely to affect your decision to purchase the property.
Comments on the overall condition of any permanent outbuildings and in relation to the site.
Any particular points or issues that you should refer to your legal adviser.
An opinion of the Market Value of the property, if required by the client, for the purpose of negotiating the final purchase price.
The estimated rebuilding (or "reinstatement") cost of the property for insurance purposes, if required.
The information is provided in a simple and straightforward layout, which is easy to read and understand. The report is based on a visual inspection of as much of the interior and exterior of the building as is reasonably and safely accessible. A full description of the service is given in the Terms of Engagement leaflet, which your surveyor will provide.
This type of report is suitable for most conventionally built residential properties, constructed since around 1900. Properties that are unusual by virtue of their design or construction, or those that are particularly large might require a more detailed report, such as a Building Survey. Your surveyor will advise you further in this respect, during the preliminary discussion.
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