Buy a Home Without a Survey at Your Peril


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Davis Miller is a regular contributor at many sites and mainly focuses on business and investment related topics.

Buying a home, for yourself to live in or as an investment, is an expensive process. As well as the deposit and mortgage repayments for the actual property, there are many other costs to pay. Some are essential, such as stamp duty, search fees and solicitor/conveyancer charges. But, in some cases a building survey is not.

If your budget is stretched, you might consider sticking with the lender’s valuation report and trust that a property that’s been standing for x number of years then it’s not going to fall down anytime soon. Or, if you’re buying a new build, what could possibly be wrong?


If a building survey is optional with regards to securing your mortgage, you could be forgiven for going ahead with your purchase without one. After all, the prospect of saving something in the region of £500 – £1,000 might allow you to get on with some decorating or buy a new appliance immediately.

“Unfortunately, to the untrained eye, a property that looks sound could be hiding some expensive to rectify secrets,” said Brixton and Battersea based estate agent Eden Harper.

Survey’s aren’t one size fits all

When it comes to building surveys, there are essentially four types you can get on a property you intend to buy:

  • Home Condition Report
  • Homebuyers Report
  • Building/Structural Survey
  • New Build Snagging Report

The Home Condition Report is the cheapest and least intrusive or informative survey you can get for a property purchase. It will give you a basic, traffic light style indication of whether or not different parts of the property you intend to buy look sound.

The Homebuyers Report is more in-depth and typically involves a surveyor checking the property out for up to an hour or so (depending on the size) and asking the home-owner a number of questions. This is adequate for homes that aren’t too old and don’t have any visible signs or history of structural problems.

The Building Survey is for older and historical properties or those built in areas or streets where there is a history of problems, such as subsidence or different types of rot. This is the most expensive survey you can get and the surveyor should be thorough and investigate all parts of the property over a period of up to a number of hours – again property size dependent.

The New Build Snagging Report, meanwhile, is exactly what it says it is and can often be included as part of a new build purchase deal or contract.

“There is a choice of surveys which are each priced to reflect the level of work put into them,” said Hammersmith estate agent Lawsons and Daughters. “Seek advice from a recommended surveying firm if you’re unsure which one to select.”

It’s Almost Always Worthwhile

While it may seem a waste of money, which can be confirmed when your survey report comes back with no major problems and just highlighting details you were already aware of. For the times that a surveydoes indicate a significant problem or issue that the existing home owner can rectify or the value of the property can be reduced to reflect the money the buyer will need to spend, then a survey is worth every penny.

“Surveys can save buyers a lot of money over the longer-term,” said Bowestate agency, Peach Properties. “In fact, the cost of a survey can often pale in comparison to the price of remedial work on a botched extension, drainage problems or an old/damaged roof.”


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