To survey or not to survey?

(31 Posts)
AnnaBegins Tue 08-Jan-13 13:19:36

We are in the process of buying a house, it dates from the early 1800s, so we were planning on having a full Buildings Survey done. However, DH has been wondering if it's really necessary. Reasons being:

1) Before the couple selling would accept our offer, they sent us a copy of the survey the last buyers had done (about 3 or 4 months ago, they sadly had to pull out) and their responses to it (e.g. survey said, some evidence of rot in timbers, they said, had wood treated professionally in 2010 etc etc), so that we knew what we were dealing with and wouldn't pull out upon doing our own survey. So would having our own survey done tell us anything we don't already know?

2) It is an old house, we have both grown up in old houses and understand the issues that go with them, so again how much difference will a survey make, as I understand the surveyors can't guarantee any of their statements/suggestions.

3) Our mortgage providers only require a Basic survey and Valuation - this has just been done - so we wouldn't be doing the survey for them.

But it just seems like the "done thing" to have a survey and the assumption seems to be that we'll get one, so am I missing something?

Any help and opinions appreciated please!

TripleRock Wed 09-Jan-13 14:15:35

I was going to suggest contacting the surveyor who did the previous survey too. They might be willing to produce an updated report for less than the price of a brand new survey.

If you do decide to just rely on the previous buyer's survey you will have no come back against the surveyor if anything nasty has been missed.

Does the previous survey have a date on it?

fussychica Wed 09-Jan-13 18:07:24

Have to agree with sovery - have seen lots and most are pretty piss poor with plenty of get out clauses and ambiguous phrases.

However, we DID get a specialist drain survey on our 1970s property as it was a problems I knew other people had experienced with properties of a similar age. Cost £85 for a video of the drains around the house and a full report. Ours were fine - thank heavens.

AnnaBegins Wed 09-Jan-13 18:08:58

Thanks everyone, and thanks Polter for the link.

I think we will first contact the previous buyer's surveyors, good idea thanks.

The Basic survey report has come back as expected, some evidence of old damp/woodworm etc.

However, we have also just had through all the other docs. Damp proof course and timber treatment for woodworm and rot for whole house done in 2010 and guaranteed for 30 years, at any point in those 30 years we can get a quote and get work done if necessary for free (it's a big national company which I've heard of, so seems legit). So that is nice grin

It also had a survey for subsidence done in 2010 and some underpinning to the (modernish, 1970s I think) bay window, but the rest of the house was fine then. Very reassuring as we've lived in subsidence areas before.

Windows are less than 10 years old with a 10 year guarantee, also nice. (We know one velux window needs replacing, but we offered knowing that.)

I'm leaning towards contacting the old surveyors, but if nothing comes of that then I'm inclined to get some specialist surveys/quotes as at least 2 of those can be done under guarantee if anything needs doing, without the cost of the survey. Also, there's probably nothing the survey could say that would put us off completely! So if it needs work, it might even save time to start with quotes (don't worry, we'd get multiple quotes and not be conned into doing unnecessary work - if there's one thing I've learnt from Mumsnet it's how to stand up for myself and get a good deal!)

Thank you for all the advice and ideas!

mycatlikestwiglets Fri 11-Jan-13 10:17:19

Just also check that the guarantees for damp course and woodworm treatment are transferable AnnaBegins - some of them are worded as being applicable only to the person who contracted them and not transferable at all, some can be assigned to the new houseowner for a fee, and some can be enforced by anyone. Same with windows - best not simply to assume that you will be able to enforce the guarantees.

Patotin Fri 11-Jan-13 13:42:01

Hi Anna, I am a conservation architect, so I can give you some professional advice on your issue. Just to say, if you were given a survey already carried on the property by the previous prospect buyers, then you could assume that the survey was carried out objectively. Needless to say that a good surveyor will always be impartial in their reports. I don´t really think that you will find anything more on the house if you get your own survey.
As usual with old houses, you will find all sort of faults, from structural to damp, etc. However, something that you could do yourself is visit the house again with the survey in hand and check all those things that have been reported.
Then look into what actually requires immediate attention, i.e. dry rot. You said that some timber was treated two years ago, then ask for evidence of it! You
don´t have to believe all what they are saying to you.

Another issue is the listed status of the property. Is it listed? Are you planning on doing any work to it? Some of the reported faults may need to be addressed while you do your own refurbishment work.

AnnaBegins Fri 11-Jan-13 14:03:38

Well we went back to look at the property today, specifically to look at the things the old survey had thrown up (as Patotin said - great minds!), and all was well. We went into the cellar - which is amazing! - and it is dry and the wood looks in great condition. Can see where some of the work they described has been done, e.g. where you can see that it was once damp, warped plaster and stuff, but is now dry, can see improvements outside to airflow etc. So we are pretty happy.

Mycat, the guarantees are transferable, so that's good.

Oh and it's not listed thank heavens.

Am getting excited about moving now!

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