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Residential Surveys

Commercial Surveys

Residential Surveys

What is a survey?

A residential survey is an assessment of a property which identifies any major issues for a potential purchaser.  It is normally undertaken for the purchaser and should not be confused with the mortgage valuation which is undertaken for the lender.  A survey is normally undertaken once an offer has been accepted on a property.

Is a survey necessary?

At a time when a lot of money is being spent on a property purchase, a survey can seem like an unnecessary expense.  However, it is far better to be aware of any problems prior to purchase so that an informed decision can be made about the agreed purchase and budget for any repair work that will need doing.  It is very often possible to re-negotiate the agreed purchase price based on the findings of the survey.

Sellers/Vendor Surveys

Buyers often commission surveys shortly after agreeing a sale.  Vendors often forget that they can increase the odds of selling their home for a good price by commissioning a survey themselves before it is put on the market.

Any issues can be addressed and repairs undertaken before potential buyers find them.  If a potential buyer commissions a survey and finds hidden defects that the vendor was unaware of, they then have the grounds to renegotiate the initial agreed purchase price.

Both time and money can be saved by a vendor commissioning a survey and fixing any issues which are uncovered.  This way, repair costs can be controlled and it may not be necessary to lower the agreed purchase price.

Lower the price of the property accordingly

If a vendor doesn't want to, or doesn't have the time to fix any uncovered defects after the survey, the price of the property could be lowered slightly and the findings of the survey disclosed.  This way, potential buyers may be deterred from getting a survey themselves, the sale price controlled, and the vendor will be perceived to be an honest seller that home buyers will trust.

Be informed before selling

The surveyors' findings will put a vendor in a much better position to sell their property as there will be a professional's opinion to hand.  With a surveyor's report available when potential buyers view the home, the buyers will receive a better impression of the house than would be the case had there been no information about it.

Buyers are less likely to be scared off

If a potential buyer finds out about any defects from the seller rather than from their own surveyor's report, they're more likely to stay interested.  Hidden defects that are uncovered by their own surveyor are likely to make them think "what else are they hiding?", and possibly pull out of the purchase.  If a vendor is open and upfront, as long as the house isn't falling down, they'll be more inclined to stick with the purchase.

Snagging Inspections

For new build properties a professional snagging inspection is often carried out. A snagging inspection will identify minor defects or problems which need fixing before a purchaser takes occupation. A snagging inspection should spot minor issues such as a misaligned door that is catching on the carpet, damaged joinery, electrical sockets that are mis-aligned, etc. A snagging inspection should ideally be carried out when the property is completed and before exchange of contracts. A purchaser can then arrange with the developer to rectify any issues before the property is occupied. However, this is not always possible as in some instances the developer may not allow access to the property.  In such cases, the snagging inspection should be carried out soon after it is occupied. The report can then be presented to the developer for remedial works to be undertaken.

Commercial Surveys

Commercial property surveys differ from domestic ones in many regards and concentrate on more than a simple monetary valuation.  They are highly-specific with regards to the client's specific commercial needs.  For anyone involved in commercial property, whether it be as a buyer, seller, landlord or tenant, here is a brief guide to the three most important types of inspection/survey:


Building survey

For those interested in purchasing a commercial property, a building survey will provide a detailed report on the condition of a building, highlighting any defects, outlining the current condition and advising if any maintenance will be required in the future. The report will state what the building is constructed from, whether that be steel or reinforced concrete framed, traditional brick, etc.,. It will highlight, if possible, whether any hazardous material such as asbestos is present or likely to be present.

Because of the nature of commercial leases whereby a tenant is often liable for repairs to the premises, a building survey is essential to clarify in detail the condition of the building and its component parts.  Suggestions for remedial works may also be given in the report.  For tenants, it is important to understand future repair liabilities and how the implications of these can affect lease negotiations.  For those wishing to purchase a property, it can assist with the possibility of a lower price being accepted by the vendor.

Schedule of condition

For both property owners and new tenants, a schedule of condition is a useful report on the state of a commercial property at a given point in time.  This report will describe in detail the condition of every part of the property, from floor to ceiling, and everything in between, and document that with a photographic record.  This is important for tenants who have a liability within the lease to return the property back to its original condition at the end of the lease term and has the potential to save thousands of pounds in repairs.

For property owners who have invested in the refurbishment of their property, a schedule of condition is useful to avoid contentious litigation at the end of a lease term, particularly if a tenant has damaged or abused the property in some way, thereby providing detailed documentary evidence of its condition at the commencement of the lease.

Schedule of dilapidations

This type of survey is usually carried out at the end of a lease by a property owner in order to establish the repairing obligations of their outgoing tenant, and to understand how best to settle the amount of dilapidation without resorting to legal action.  In cases where the dilapidation is considerable, we may also act as an expert intermediary in any negotiations, on behalf of either the landlord or the tenant.

This is a bespoke report and involves a detailed internal and external inspection of the property.  The surveyor will attempt to access all areas provided that there is no risk of damage to the property (or to the surveyor!).  All Building Surveys vary depending upon the property and the Clients’ requirements and expectations.  We offer the option of a Building Survey with either a Full (technical) Report or a Summarising (‘plain-English') Report.  Both contain essentially the same structural and repairing information.  The summarising report, however, presents the repairing issues in ‘bullet-point’ style and does not contain the same level of detail where discussion on construction is concerned.

This is normally undertaken for older properties but is suitable for all types of property.

Level 3 – Building Survey

This is a report which is produced in a standardised format approved by the RICS.  A general internal and external inspection is undertaken with the intention of highlighting ONLY urgent and essential repairs which are likely to cost significant amounts of money and affect the value and saleability of the property.  The aim of the Home Buyer Report is to enable a purchaser to make an informed decision on whether or not to buy the property.  The report is restricted to those parts of the property which are open and readily available for inspection.  In other words, sealed hatches are not opened, furniture is not moved, carpets are not pulled back, and floor boards are not lifted.  It includes clear ‘traffic light’ ratings of the condition of the different parts of the building, services, garage and outbuildings, showing problems that require varying degrees of attention, a summary of the risks to the condition of the building, and other matters including guarantees, planning and building control issues, etc., which your legal advisers should investigate.  The report includes an opinion of the current market value of the property, along with a reinstatement valuation for insurance purposes.

This type of survey is suitable for modern, traditionally built properties which are in “apparently” good condition.

Level 2 – RICS Home Buyer Report

A survey may not be as expensive as you think and will represent a tiny fraction of the overall cost of the property you are buying.  Please contact us to discuss your requirements and we will provide you with a no-obligation quotation.  You can choose to be contacted either by email or telephone.  Once we have given you a quote, we will leave you to make your decision.

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East Anglia: 01353 661222     London: 0207 416 6355