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Housing surveys explained

When buying a house, it’s essential that you know what you’re buying. A property might be in the perfect location, suit your every need and be within budget but unless you have a survey carried out you cannot be sure that it’s worth the money you are paying for it and neither can your bank.

What is a housing survey?
A survey is a detailed inspection of a property carried out by a qualified surveyor. It will tell you if there are any structural problems with your property and if any major repair work needs to take place. It will also give you a commentary detailing things like wall types and window glazing.

Why do you need a housing survey?
A survey can highlight potential risks to your property and any work that may or may not need to take place. For example you might find out that the damp or hairline crack that you’re worried about is not a structural issue and can in fact be easily treated.

Homebuyers report
There are two main kinds of surveys – the first, a homebuyers report usually costs between £250 and £500 and deals with the general condition of your property. It will highlight obvious problems like mould, hairline cracks, subsidence and rot. This report is relatively quick and non intrusive.

Building survey
A building survey is more expensive than a homebuyers report, generally costing between £500 and £1,200. This report is recommended as it is much more extensive, detailed and involves checking between floors as well as attics, ceilings, behind walls, etc. This will also include advice on how to approach repairs. This kind of report can be used as a valuable bargaining chip for negotiating down the price of a property and help you to budget for repairs.

That said, not all properties require such an in depth report – in particular homes that are less than 40 years old. However, if your property is old or unusual then it can be important to get a survey carried out. Thatched roof, timber framed and listed buildings are good examples of such properties.

For more information on buying a house for the first time take a look at our helpful guide.

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