Purchasing a property is an expensive undertaking, with estate agent fees, conveyancer fees, mortgage broker fees – never mind the deposit itself! So, you may feel that commissioning a home survey is just an additional fee that you could do without, but not getting a home survey could end up costing you thousands of pounds in repairs from hidden defects.
Why getting a mortgage valuation might not be enough
You’ve had a mortgage valuation, so surely, you’re fine? With around 50% of mortgage valuations now being done as a desktop valuation, many house sales complete without ever having a surveyor physically attend the property. This is just one of the reasons it is now more important than ever to commission a home survey for the property you are looking to purchase.
Here is one example of a client who, despite being happy with the mortgage valuation they received, chose to commission a home survey, and managed to avoid sinking their deposit into a property with serious defects:
“When we were looking to buy our new home, we decided to go ahead with a home survey on the property. We had already looked around the property ourselves a couple of times before putting in an offer, and although the mortgage valuation had come back with a figure slightly less than we agreed, it hadn’t flagged any major issues.
However, I had a friend who worked in property, and they had advised to get a home survey just in case. It was a few hundred pounds extra and my partner and I debated whether it was worth getting it, but in the end, we were really glad that we did.
The survey came back showing that the extension was riddled with damp issues and that the roof looked like it would need replacing, if not immediately than in the next couple of years. There were a few other minor issues but when we looked further into the extension and roof problems, we realised it was going to cost us thousands more than what we had budgeted for.
We ended up pulling out of the sale and buying another property (that we also had a home survey on) which we love, but if we hadn’t had that first home survey we would have proceeded and have really been in a predicament financially.”
How can a home survey help save you money?
A survey provides a detailed report on the property’s condition and advises on any costly repairs that you should be aware of. Not only can a home survey help dispel your worries, but if it does highlight any issues at the property, it may help you to negotiate for a lower sales price to factor in the cost of any necessary repairs.Below is a case study of a client who was able to do just that off the back of the home survey they received:
“After having an offer accepted on a property, I paid for a Level 2 Home Survey. The subsequent survey highlighted a substantial amount of rising damp at the back of the house which had rotted the floorboards. I hadn’t spotted this when viewing the property as the seller had hidden this behind and underneath a couple of pieces of large furniture.
The surveyor’s report recommended that I commissioned a further specialist damp report to cost up the remedial works. The damp report then revealed that it would cost approximately £7,000 to fix the issue. Using this as evidence, I was able to negotiate a £3,500 reduction in purchase price by agreeing to meet the seller in the middle for these costs.
As it happens, I was already planning some building work in this room, so I was able to fix this issue as part of a larger renovation. That extra cash I saved was a nice contribution to that project!”
Avoid facing costly repairs later down the line
Despite the benefits of getting a home survey only 20% of buyers decide to commission a home survey. According to research by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), buyers who didn’t purchase a home survey faced an average of £5,7501 worth of repairs after they moved in, with a further 17% of people paying out more than £12,0002 to make their new homes habitable.
This situation is what the new homeowners in the case study below faced when they ended up paying out a small fortune in unforeseen repair costs:
“When we bought our house, we did not get a home survey. We were really excited for our new home and had lots of plans for how we were going to renovate and decorate it. We purchased with a mortgage and had set aside a large chunk of money for an extension, which we had had in mind when viewing and buying the property. The mortgage valuation came back absolutely fine at the agreed price, and we happily completed on the property.
Shortly after settling in, we hired an architect and some builders to start the process of building the extension. This is where everything started going downhill. The builders noticed a problem with the chimney.
We had a structural engineer inspect the chimney who reported that the chimney breasts were unsupported, and that the internal support wall was also unstable due to a couple of the chimney stacks appearing to have been removed without adequate support being put in place.
The money that we had set aside for the extension ended up having to be spent on stabilising the chimney and internal load-bearing wall as it was an urgent problem.
Since then, we have consistently questioned our naivety in not getting a survey done before we bought the property, particularly considering that we had planned for an extension. Now we are out over £20,000 and are having to wait and save some more to have an extension or potentially resell with the hope of recouping our money.”
Don’t be a Deidre! Purchasing a house is one of the largest investments most people will ever make. Make sure you don’t run afoul of hidden defects and protect your investment by commissioning a home survey.
Find out more about your home survey options by requesting a quote here.
Gompertz, S. (2013) ‘No house survey is false economy, says Rics, BBC, 1st April. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21965535 (Accessed: 12th July 2023)
- ComsRes for RICS, 2018