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House Surveys. Which would you recommend?

(27 Posts)
doglover Mon 18-Mar-13 21:17:30

We've had an offer accepted on a property. It's a 1950s bungalow which needs partial-renovation. We have had quotes from builders to do the work (plus a 'contingency' fund!) We know it will need new kitchen, bathrooms, electrics, boiler, consumer unit etc etc. Is it still worth having the Homebuyers survey knowing that all this work will be done?

MsDeerheart Mon 18-Mar-13 21:34:43

I would there could be other things

KirstyJC Mon 18-Mar-13 21:43:30

I wouldn't bother tbh. We bought a 1700's house 2 years ago, and went for the full survey - £1250 it cost us. And it was useless. Most of the 65-page report

could have been written without even seeing the place (and I suspect it was).

The main gist of it was 'there maybe', lots of 'possibles' and 'potentials' rounded off with lots of comments about how they recommend further specialist surveys to be certain, eg electrics etc.

Huge waste of time and money. There wasn't anything there we didn't spot ourselves and the surveyor wasn't allowed to move any furniture or lift up carpets, which frankly even I did when I looked around the place!

Some examples of the helpful comments:

'Loose banister rail' - yes I know, I touched it too.
'May be some damp' - well is there or isn't there?!?
'Floor in attic room probably not reinforced' - so what does that mean? And does it matter?
'Guttering needs replacing' - yup, saw that when the big splashes of water were falling over the edge of it.

In the end I called the company to get the mobile number of the surveyor and called him directly, asked if there was anything there that would have put him off buying the place and he said no, nothing you wouldn't expect in a house of that age.

So far the remedial works we have paid for have come to less than the cost of the survey.....

AliceWChild Mon 18-Mar-13 21:44:01

Would it make any difference? Would it stop you buying the house? Would you use it to negotiate? If not, IMO there's no point. They're not exactly detailed. FWIW I buy without.

doglover Mon 18-Mar-13 21:45:31

Thanks for that, KJC. I'm kind of the same opinion. We know that extensive work needs to be done and I'm not sure what else we need to know!!

doglover Mon 18-Mar-13 21:58:01

Any opposing veiws?

nooka Mon 18-Mar-13 21:59:27

I'm a bit meh about surveys. We had a homebuyers for our first place, but the really useful advice came from dh's cousin (painter & decorator) looking around the house with us. The second place the survey came back with no valuation and a host of 'maybe' problems. We spend ages and lots of money on follow up, some of which showed problems and some was very run of the mill. In the end we pulled out because the buyer wouldn't negotiate and I felt I couldn't take the risk.

So next place I got a full structural survey. When we came to sell the purchaser also got a full structural survey, found an unsupported chimney and had an engineer visit. who found that the middle floor of the house was unsupported!

It's all a bit of a minefield really.

doglover Mon 18-Mar-13 22:03:27

Thanks, Nooka. I know exactly what you mean. The homebuyers survey won't, I don't think, tell us anything that we don't already know. On the other hand, will just the mortgage valuation report be sufficient? Decisions!

KirstyJC Mon 18-Mar-13 22:09:53

If you have had builders get quotes, then I assume they have visited the property? What do they say? It is a bungalow, so presumably it is possible to check the roof/gutter/chimney with a ladder?

Is there anything you have seen on the way round that gives you cause for concern? Been inside the loft - can you see daylight?grin (Yes, he failed to notice the blumin' great hole in the side of the soffit/wall bit too!)

doglover Mon 18-Mar-13 22:14:31

Yes, our 2nd viewing was accompanied by a builder. He subsequently quoted for the works mentioned above.

Pendeen Mon 18-Mar-13 23:38:27

As with everything in life you get what you pay for.

A valuation is just that, an opinion of the value.

A Homebuyers survey is done at a price and with 1001 caveats which the surveyors professional body constrains the surveyor.

An independent survey commissioned from a chartered building surveyor is usually worth having penny but is often quite expensive.

RICS surveyors are the real experts and most have, on average been in more houses in a month than you would see in a decade however if you negotiate a paltry fee then expect a very limited service...

Sillyoldbagpus Tue 19-Mar-13 07:38:52

Are you an expert in identifying things like subsidence or roof spread?

I would always get a full report as it may give you something to negotiate ie if the while roof needs replacing. And most importantly it may be a 'waste of money' if it tells you nothing new, however if you have a major issue it's a small price to pay in the long run. It's a no brainer IMO and you would be naive to not get one. This is the biggest purchase you ever make, you wouldn't buy a car without an mot?

doglover Tue 19-Mar-13 09:30:13

Good point, SOB and PD. Eeeeeekkk!

SunnyUpNorth Tue 19-Mar-13 15:01:40

We bought an old Victorian house and paid around £500 or so to have a full structural survey done. For various reasons she valued it at £25k less than we were paying for it. After discussing this with her she then said that she still felt we were paying a fair price. But as we has her valuation in writing we were able to renegotiate what we paid for the house and were backed up by the survey. We were able to confidently say we need to do x, y and z to the house at roughly this cost.

We also managed to get a copy of a specialist damp and timber survey that the previous potential buyer had done (their purchase had fallen through). This again added weight to our argument.

So we basically got £15k off what we had originally offered based on spending £500 on a survey.

Once we moved in we had two other specialist damp and timber companies in to provide quotes for the work that needed doing and both said that none of the work was required!

So for us it worked out really well.

However in your situation, if you're doing alot of work anyway then it might not be worth it. If you think enough would come up to renegotiate your offer then maybe you could consider it.

nooka Tue 19-Mar-13 15:12:38

Damp 'specialists' are mostly IMO shysters. Surveyors seem to notice different problems depending on the surveyor. It's all a bit of a minefield.

I would have totally agreed with you SunnyUpNorth until we had to knock off 20K from the price of our last house for a problem that our surveyor had totally overlooked, but was almost certainly there (and had probably been there for 20 odd years). We had a full structural survey too, for very similar reasons, but as the consumer you don't know if the surveyor is good or not - I still don't know if our surveyor missed the problem with the floor or my buyer's surveyor invented it, or whether there are similar problems with most houses, you just need a structural engineer to spot it.

lalalonglegs Tue 19-Mar-13 16:11:55

Damp specialists are scum. When we were selling a flat last year, the damp specialist found damp all through the back of the flat and in the bay window that was built to modern standards with modern dpm etc 10 years ago. The thing is, it looked like the rest of the Victorian building (as we'd made sure that the builder did a good job) so he just automatically assumed that was somewhere else they could "repair" at ridiculously inflated prices. He quoted 4k to do damp proofing in a one-bedroom flat that had no real signs of damp hmm but the surveyor had said that further investigations were needed...

purplewithred Tue 19-Mar-13 16:20:57

Everything you've listed is surface stuff rather than underlying structure. Do you have any concerns about the really expensive headbanger stuff - roof, underpinning/foundations, internal walls that may have been removed, drains. If so then do get a survey but ring local surveyors and find one who will take a specific brief. Ask to see sample reports to check you are going to get the details you need.

When we bought a 17C cottage which had had a big extension every 100 years we got a local independent surveyor to answer specific questions about the stability of a couple of bits of the house. Got good sensible answers from him.

Otherwise I probably wouldn't bother, as long as you have had a good look at the roof, walls, floors, how the windows sit/cracking and can't see anything obvious. I'm sure Sarah Beeny has a book on this somewhere!

doglover Tue 19-Mar-13 17:01:41

Really useful stuff. Many thanks. My dh and I will need to sit down and really consider this thoroughly. The seller of the property isn't the easiest of guys to deal with so information from a surveyor may be essential.

specialsubject Tue 19-Mar-13 18:03:12

just to join the chorus - surveyors may be so hedged around with caveats that they are almost useless, but if you have a professional survey and it doesn't mention something HUGE like subsidence, your insurance will cover you if (perish the thought) it happens.

and if he does think there is subsidence, it will be money well spent.

try for some quotes.

fussychica Tue 19-Mar-13 19:18:14

For that type of property I wouldn't bother - it's generally money done the drain which brings me to something we did have done when we bought our current 1970s property - a specialist drain survey. £85 for full report and video of the state of the drains - had it done as we knew from past experience that this could be an issue with properties of this age or older.

lalalonglegs Tue 19-Mar-13 19:36:25

I would get a structural engineer to give me a report on whether s/he suspects movement. You will get a definite answer rather than: "There may be signs of movement, I recommend further investigation from a specialist." Beware that some houses from post-War period are considered non-standard construction and may be non-mortgageable.

doglover Tue 19-Mar-13 19:55:08

Gosh, The plot thickens! This is a whole new area for us. Lots to mull over .....................

doglover Sun 24-Mar-13 19:21:34

We're still undecided whether to go for the basic valuation or HB Reportconfused . If the seller isn't going to budge on the price and nothing untoward is discovered then it's money down the drain. If the Homebuyer Report picks up any issues then we'll still end up paying for repairs. We need to get a grip and decide by Tuesday .............................

tilder Sun 24-Mar-13 19:28:41

I wondered the same when we bought our house. It was a project and we knew it needed a lot spending on it. Still got the full survey, which showed a couple of extra things up and we got £2500 extra off.

I find that people who say they are a waste of time tended to have the full survey but find nothing major out. Those who say have a full survey are either cautious or saved a lot of money off the back of said survey.

My view is, yes its a lot of money but then so is a new house.

doglover Sun 24-Mar-13 19:32:47

Good advice.

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