Whether or not you need to do a survey on a house you’re buying depends on the situation and the type and age of the property. I’ve not always had a survey done myself but it has sometimes cost me when I haven’t.
So do you need to do a survey when buying a house? You don’t need to have a survey when you’re buying a house, but it’s a good idea to have one. Having a survey will highlight any problems with the house you’re buying, confirm that it’s structurally sound and will pickup any damp issues. A lender will insist on a valuation, which is not the same as a survey.
Why Do you need a survey on a house you are buying?
A survey is not a legal requirement, but in most cases a necessity to give you piece of mind.
Given that you’re investing thousands in a new home, the relatively small cost of a survey is minor in comparison.
Below is a table of costs for repairs relating to potential problems that can get picked up on a survey. What if the survey picked up on more than one of these problems? The return on your investment in the survey would be worth it then.
How much does a house survey cost?
For a relatively low cost of somewhere between £400 for a Homebuyers Report to $2,000 for a Building Survey. The cost of the house survey will depend on the size and type of house.
But having a survey done could potential save yourself thousands in repair costs in the future. Not to mention the down valuation of the house until the problem is fixed.
What are your options if a problem gets picked up on a survey?
You usually end up with three options when a problem is picked up in a survey.
The first is to walk away from the purchase. Which is often the case with major structural problems like subsidence.
However, your second option is to renegotiate the price to reflect the cost of repairing the problem. You will need to obtain quotes from a professional builder for the specific problem first. But this will give you a cost report from which to renegotiate the price.
However, not all vendors will agree they have the problem your surveyor has picked up. They may also not agree to the cost of remedy either. You have two choices if this is the case. Which is to negotiate a price reduction that you are happy to accept, or walk away from the deal.
The third option is to have the vendor fix the problem at their cost before you buy. The vendor may not have a choice, as the same problem will get picked up with the next buyer.
If the vendor doesn’t have the funds to carry out the repair, you may need to walk away in any case.
Will a basic survey be enough?
The most basic of surveys is what’s known as a Condition Report. These cost around £300-400 depending on the type and size of property. This report will only confirm that the amount you are paying for the property is correct based upon the current state of the property.
However, even though it’s a basic survey it will confirm any major repairs required on the house. For example subsidence.
But for the extra money it is probably better to have a Homebuyers Report instead.
What will a Homebuyers Report cover on a house survey?
There are two types of Homebuyer Report, the first is just a survey of the house. Whereas the second type of homebuyers report includes a valuation of the house too.
If you are buying using a mortgage, there’s no need to include a valuation report, as the lender will insist on having this doe in any case.
Both types of Homebuyer Report will uncover any obvious major problem with the house. Obvious problems should include structural problems, damp issues, Japanese Knotweed and dry rot.
But check with the survey company beforehand. I suggest you use the table below to ask if the report covers each of the listed problems.
Is it worth it to have a complete building survey?
A building survey will be carried out by a RICS surveyor. This type of survey is the most expensive. A building survey can cost up to £2,000, depending on the size of the house.
But it is also the most comprehensive of all surveys. It is the most likely survey to find almost any type of problem with a house.
The report will not only find any problem, but it will also detail the cost to fix it and an estimate of how long it will take to repair.
Do you need a survey on a new build house?
If you’re buying a new build home a survey is not really necessary, but a snagging survey is worth the cost instead.
New build homes should come with a 10-year warranty from the builder, which for example is covered by an NHBC warranty or guarantee. This warranty largely negates the need for a home-buyer’s survey.
Snagging surveys usually cost less than £600 and can highlight potential problems that may go unnoticed until it’s too late and the 10-year warranty has expired. As you’re investing thousands in a new home, this could be money well spent.
To my detriment, I discovered this on a new flat I purchased in Radcliffe near Manchester. There was an underlying problem with the Juliet balcony. This led to water ingress, which only became a problem once the NHBC guarantee had ended.
Lesson learned and note to self: In future pay for a snagging survey on new-builds.
Do You need a survey on a 2 year old house?
Even with a 2 year old house it’s still usually worth the expense of having a survey done. Whilst this 2 year old home will still have 8 years remaining on its new-build guarantee, there may still be underlying problems.
Ask the vendors if they had a snagging survey done when they purchased, as this may highlight potential problems.
But given the problems with new-builds, you shouldn’t take it for granted that the house has been built to a good standard.
“As demand rises, the reputation of new-build homes is crumbling: A hole where a window should be, no cavity wall insulation and uneven stairs are just a few of the problems developers have left behind, with owners struggling for solutions.”The Observer Newspaper
The other question you may ask is why are the sellers selling after just 2 years of ownership? Also, if the house is on an estate, do your research to find out if there have been any problems for the other home owners.
You are therefore better to at least pay for a Homebuyers Report for piece of mind.
Do you need a survey on a 4, 5 or 6 year old house?
The same applies with a 4, 5 or 6 year old house, as it does with a 2 year old home. Only in this case you’ll be buying a house with 6, 5 or 5 years left to run on the new-build guarantee.
If the vendors didn’t have a Snagging Survey done when they purchased the property when new, there may be underlying problems that won’t show up until after the warrantee has expired.
Don’t take it for granted that a 4 year of house, a 5 year old house or a 6 year old house has been built to a high standard, as not all are. Therefore invest in at least a Homebuyers Report for piece of mind that the house is structurally sound and free of damp and Japanese Knotweed in the garden.
Do you need a survey on a 10 year old house?
A 10 year old house is no longer considered a new-build. The new-build warrantee will have just expired and if there are any problems these will be at your expense. In which case a survey is a good idea and a worthwhile investment.
Even with a new-build home subsidence can be a major problem. I recall a local builder had built a small development and they’d not taken account of a very large underground pit on the site.
This lead to major subsidence problems with the houses and a large claim on insurance I suspect.
With this in mind, at the very least a Homebuyers Report is recommended. But it may even be worth the investment of a building survey too.
Do you need a survey on 20 year old houses and older
For any property of 20 years and older, I would suggest having a survey done. As already explained in the above answers to properties of less than 20 years old, there are potential problems with all ages of house.
For example, what about Japanese Knotweed? Just because there may be nothing wrong with the house itself and it may have been built to a high standard, doesn’t mean it couldn’t have knotweed in the garden.
Even in the case of a 20 year old house, you should invest in a Homebuyers Report.
Potential problems your house survey might find, what they may cost and the return on cost of the survey
|Problem||Cost||Return on Cost of Survey||House Devaluation Factor|
|Subsidence||£5,000 to £50,000||Extremely high||Extremely high|
|Rising Damp||£70-80 per metre of wall treatment||High to very high||High|
|Penetrating damp||£250 to £2,500||Medium to high||High|
|Condensation damp||Under £100||Low||Low|
|Asbestos||£1,000 to £2,500||Medium to high||Medium|
|Japanese Knotweed||£4,000 to £10000||Extremely high||Extremely high|
|Dry rot||£1,000 to £20,000||Extremely high||High to Extremely high|
|Woodworm||£500 to £2,500||Medium to high||Medium|
|Electrical problems||£2,000 to £10,000||High to very high||Medium|
|Faulty drain pipes||£1,000 to £2,500||Medium to high||Medium|
|Roof problems||£250 to £20,000||Low to very high||Low Extremely high|
|Insulation||£500 to £1,000||Low to medium||Low to medium|
|Defective heating system||£1,000 to £15,000||Medium to high||Low to high|
Who organises the survey when buying a house?
If you are buying with a mortgage, your lender should arrange a surveyor to value the property. But a valuation isn’t a survey, so it’s a good idea to pay the extra money to get an enhanced survey, which you can discuss with your lender.
If you are buying for cash, it will be down to you to arrange the survey.
Do you need a survey when buying a house for cash?
You don’t need a survey when you’re buying a house for cash, but it’s a good idea to have one.
If you’re a cash buyer the decision about whether or not you need a survey is down to you, as there’s no lender to require you to have one carried out. You need to make sure the house you are buying is structurally sound and free from and costly repair problems.
Should you buy a house without a survey?
You shouldn’t buy a house without a survey. You’re investing thousands in your new home so it’s a false economy to try and save money now when it could cost thousands in time.
Even with a new-build home a survey should be replaced with a Snagging Survey. This can highlight potential problems that may show up in the future.
Please don’t forget to read this before you leave…
Please don’t forget to also read this article to discover how you could save £71,475 on your next mortgage if you sell your house and rent before buying again. As I said earlier, even I was amazed when I did the calculations!
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