Buying a house is likely to be the biggest purchase that you will ever make. It is such a significant investment, yet you only have a short viewing before making your decision. The location, space and style might tick your boxes, but structural surveys provide assurance that this is a good move.
A Surge in House Buyer Enquiries
In January 2020, mortgage approvals reached their highest in 4 years. Then, the plans of many buyers were then put on hold as lockdown measures were enforced.
According to the RICS Survey, as soon as house viewings could resume, there was a surge in buyer enquiries. There is nothing like the whole family living, working and keeping entertained under one roof to highlight the lack of space, a small garden, difficult neighbours and other irritations.
There are other motivating factors driving demand. For now, interest rates remain low. In addition, the Chancellor announced a Stamp Duty freeze in July. This means property purchases under £500,000 will be exempt from Stamp Duty until Spring 2021.
Making an Informed Decision about Moving House
When you view a property, it will usually be filled with the seller’s belongings. You are in someone else’s home, so the scope to have a really good look around is limited. The estate agent may tell you a few details, but it is in their interest to sell, so they are unlikely to point out any issues. Your gut might be telling you that this is your dream home, but is it a wise investment?
You can put an offer on the table, but before proceeding, we would advise that you book a qualified structural surveyor to undertake a detailed inspection of the property. It is also valuable to research the local area and visit at different times of the day. Undertaking trial runs of your commute for the new location is also useful.
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Which Type of Structural Survey is Advised before Buying a House?
RWA Consultants are a team of experienced and qualified structural engineers. We regularly undertake structural surveys to support property purchases. There are several different types of structural survey that can be undertaken. Each aims to provide you with information about the property.
Your mortgage lender will arrange a valuation, which you will pay for. This is purely an assessment of the property’s worth and is not a structural survey.
This is a non-invasive structural survey. A member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) will undertake an internal and external visual structural inspection. They will provide a report of their findings and if requested, an insurance valuation.
This is an extensive structural survey. In addition to a visual inspection, the RICS structural surveyor will explore the attic, behind walls, under floorboards. The report will include all findings, as well as advice on repairs and the estimated costs. Recommendations will be prioritised, to provide insight into the urgency of getting work done.
If you are moving into a new build, a snagging survey should be all that is required. This will highlight any minor issues, which can usually be rectified by the builder.
The Purpose of a Structural Survey
The purpose of a structural survey is to provide you with the insight that will help you to make an informed decision. The structural surveyor will be looking for signs of subsidence, damp, damage to structural timbers, damage to the roof and chimney stack, rotten windows, dated wiring, invasive Japanese knotweed and other issues which can impact the structural integrity of the building.
A structural survey can highlight structural work that is worth undertaking. If you are aware of this, it is possible to negotiate with the seller, either for them to fix the issue or for a reduction in the offer price.
If the work is extensive, you may decide to retract your offer and continue your property search. Equally, the structural report can offer peace of mind, that you are making a sound purchase.
Is a Structural Survey Necessary?
There is no legal obligation to have a structural survey, however, it is strongly advisable. We would certainly recommend a detailed building survey if you have put an offer on a listed, older or unusual property. If you have any concerns about a house, it is best to have them investigated. Please tell the structural surveyor if there is something specific that you would like them to look into.
It can be helpful to ask the surveyor to go through the report with you. They can explain any details that you are unsure of, answer your questions and offer advice.
This may feel like yet another expense and one which can be avoided, yet it can save you facing unexpected costs further down the line. When you are making the biggest purchase of your life, we believe it is worth paying for an inspection that can help you make an informed decision.