James Greenwood of Stacks Property Search says, “My top tip is to love your survey and your surveyor. For those unrepresented by a buying agent, the surveyor is the first property professional you will speak to who represents you, and is looking after your interests.
“Surveyors frequently flag unforeseen issues. A recent example is a buyer whose surveyor found dry rot in a part of the cellar that had been blocked off. The source of the water ingress was located, the extent of the dry rot was identified, and the cost of treating and making good (approximately £32,000) was paid for by the vendor.
“The moral is, don’t pull out of a transaction simply because of a bad survey. If a survey reveals problems that weren’t evident to the buyer, for instance, rotting windows that could quite clearly be seen at a viewing, then the buyer should seek a reduction in price, or to get the problem fixed prior to purchase.
“Surveyors don’t aim to be overzealous, or scare buyers off, but they do have to protect themselves, so the report may sound overwhelming. This is more often than not a case of semantics. Select your surveyor with care – choose one who is happy to talk on the phone and give you a topline, and talk you through the report when you’ve had a chance to digest it. It can be a good idea to meet the surveyor on site, preferably as he’s finishing the job, so he can talk you – and walk you – through any issues. Make sure you get full value out of what you’ve paid for.
“If you really engage with the surveyor, you should have an idea of your immediate costs, but also what you should be doing in 5, 10 or 20 years. All buildings cost money to maintain to a good standard, and problems that are ignored will only get worse and cost more as time elapses.
“Surveyors don’t take up floors and take down ceilings, their remit only extends to accessible parts of the property. So if you’re planning a major renovation and want to investigate elements of the property that aren’t ‘accessible’, you could consider hiring a structural engineer or commissioning an electrical and / or drainage survey. Unless you’re planning to demolish a property and start again, a structural survey is always necessary.
“What the report doesn’t do is provide a valuation of the property. The Building Survey should not be confused with a Homebuyers Report. The latter is similar to a mortgage valuation, and it may be required by any company you are using for finance for the property. The Building Survey is not required by mortgage companies, but it is, most definitely required by you!
“If you don’t know who to use, ask for recommendations. Local estate agents are a good starting point. Ring them up for a chat. If your property is very large, very old, or perhaps Listed, it’s sensible to find a surveyor who specialises in such properties, or has extensive experience.
“Issues that may indicate that some renegotiation is possible include things that you could not have known about or seen in the course of your viewing, that will require substantial outlay in the short term. For example, subsidence, a roof at the end of its life, unsafe building practices, or Building Regulations not complied with. Rather than jumping straight in with a tough re-negotiation, it may be more effective to ask the vendors to fix the problem prior to exchange.”
Stacks Property Search & Acquisition, 01594 842880 / www.stacks.co.uk
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