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  • Understanding The Homebuyer Report or Building Survey Report

    2nd November 2017

    Understanding The Homebuyer Report or Building Survey Report

    When you receive your report you are going to want to know straight away what your surveyor found. There is usually a summary at the beginning of the report giving your surveyors overall opinion before looking at each area in more depth.

    Try not to be overwhelmed by the level of detail in the report – they can be quite long and there is a lot of information but this is designed to ensure you are as informed as possible. If any issues are found some will actually be quite common to properties in the area and therefore nothing major to worry about. Others may be specific to your property.

    1. Take time to go through your report without distractions
    2. Make a note of any questions you have
    3. Speak to your surveyor about the questions – many surveyors will include a free call once you have read your report to talk through it and will help you understand whether there are any real points of concern and what this means

     

    Condition Ratings

    Condition reports and Homebuyer Reports follow a standard template that will give you condition ratings. Building Surveys can either follow a similar RICS template or will be the surveyors own report template. In either case, your surveyor will indicate the condition of what has been inspected in some way.

    For the RICS templates there are the following ratings that follow a traffic light system.

    Condition Rating 1: no repair currently needed. Example: Roof coverings – have been well maintained and there are no issues evident. You are not required to do any immediate or short-term work to this area of the property. 

    Condition Rating 2: repairs or replacement required but your surveyor doesn’t consider them to be serious or urgent. This could be advising maintenance is required. Example: External joinery (such as soffits and facias) – the paintwork is deteriorating and has not been maintained. It is not causing problems with the property currently but you will want to repaint the joinery soon to prevent the wood rotting which could then lead to the need for replacement. It could also mean other issues developing as a result to the property itself such as water ingress. This is something you should plan into your budget. 

    Condition Rating 3: the defect found is serious and/or requires immediate repair, replacement or further investigation. Example 1: A cracked/split supporting beam in the roof structure. This would require quotes being gathered to determine exactly how much it will be to reinforce/replace this beam. Example 2: No valid safety testing certificate can be found for the electricity supply in the property. Whilst there may be no visible issues, your surveyor is likely to provide a rating of 3 because without a valid safety test there is no guarantee that it is 100% safe. Your surveyor is unable to conduct a test as they are not a qualified electrician. Think of them as your GP – they can find issues and diagnose the majority but some require specialists to take a look. 

     

    Limitations

    Your surveyor may note that there were limitations to the survey. They can only look at visible issues – it is using their knowledge and experience that allows them to piece together visual, audible and other clues to establish (potential) hidden issues. Unless otherwise agreed in advance with yourself and the vendor, your surveyor will not drill into walls or lift floor coverings. They are also unable to move large/heavy items of furniture. If a cupboard, for example, is full of stored items limiting the surveyors ability to fully inspect the walls, ceilings and floors inside, they will advise that a full inspection of this area was not possible and you way wish to have this checked separately.

    Another example of a limitation is the inspection of the external roof coverings. These are generally done from ground level with binoculars and using a ladder up to 3m where appropriate and safe to do so. Using external observations paired with what they can find inside, they can build up a strong picture of the roofs condition. However, there will inevitably be some areas they just cannot see making the inspection limited in some way. A very small number of surveyors are starting to use drones or telescopic poles to inspect harder to view areas but with more specialist equipment you should expect to pay more for this service where it is available.

     

    Extra Checks

    Where you receive a condition rating 3, you should make a decision as to whether or not you want further checks conducted. Your surveyor will advise where they think you need them. For example, if they suspect that the floor joists are rotting in damp walls due to a spring in the floor, they may suggest you get a timber inspection carried out. This will be because they were unable, within the confines of the inspection, to view the joists (due to floor coverings, floorboards etc). Getting a timber inspection will allow you to know for sure if the diagnosis is correct and the full extent of the issue allowing you to budget correctly for the future.

     

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