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Chartered surveyors

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What is a Chartered Surveyor?

Chartered Surveyors are employed to conduct surveys on properties, at the request of a buyer or mortgage lender. They are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors(RICS).

What is a Full Survey and why do I need one?

Full surveys have been described as a ‘health-check’ for properties as they review a number of factors that may affect their price. If a survey identifies any major structural problems with a property it could affect your decision about whether to go ahead with the purchase or encourage you to try to renegotiate the offer price in order to reflect the cost of necessary repairs that would need to be performed.

A Chartered Surveyor will report on all the parts of the property that they can easily review, and will comment on the condition of the parts that they don’t inspect in detail, such as under carpets or furniture, and the testing of the water supply and wiring. The survey is more detailed than the mortgage lender’s valuation survey or estate agent’s review to develop a suggested asking price.

One frequently asked question is whether surveys are worth their cost (usually several hundred pounds). The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), state that surveys are essential in helping you to decide whether to buy and how much to pay for a property. A home is likely to be one of the most costly investments that you ever make, so it is wise to make sure that you have as much information about the property as possible, before you decide to go through with the purchase. Paying for a Chartered Surveyor to conduct a survey may cost a few hundred pounds, but it could save you a few thousand pounds in a lower purchase price or in costly repair bills.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) both recommend that home buyers get a survey done, rather than just relying on a valuation, before going through with the purchase of a property. If you live in Scotland a survey is recommended before you make an offer on a property.

What are HIPs and how are they relevant to chartered surveyors?

Home Information Packs (HIPs) are the result of recent legislation which is designed to smooth the process of buying a home. HIPs were originally conceived to try to address the fact that a significant portion of the relevant information concerning the state of a property is only available to the potential buyer in the latter stages of the buying process. HIPs were therefore envisaged to make it incumbent upon the vendor to provide this information to any potential buyers, the logic being that transactions are less likely to fall through if the information which can cause transactions to fail is available and can be considered up front. Since much of this information is presently obtained at the buyer’s expense, the failure of transactions can result in substantial cost to the purchaser, for which there is no redress under the current system.

The situation concerning HIPs is currently fluid, and Mouseprice advises its users to review the DCLG website for the latest information on the progress of the implementation of the legislation.

Homebuyer Survey & Valuation Report (HSV)

The Homebuyer Survey and Valuation Report (HSV) is probably the most suitable survey for conventional properties built within the last 150 years which are in reasonable condition. However, the HSV does not detail every aspect of the property, as it is designed to focus only on matters that need urgent attention. Therefore, this survey is not appropriate for properties in need of renovation or if you are planning major alterations, (in which case, a Building Survey would probably be more suitable). The following information would be outlined in the Chartered Surveyor’s HSV report:

  • The general condition of the property.
  • Any major faults accessible by the Chartered Surveyor that may affect the property’s value.
  • Any urgent problems that need inspecting by a specialist before you sign a contract for the purchase of the property.
  • The results of tests carried out for damp in the walls of the property.
  • Any detected damage to timbers, including woodworm and rot.
  • The condition of any damp-proofing that may have been made to the property.
  • The condition of the insulation of the property.
  • The general condition of the drainage. (Although the drains are not tested in detail by the Chartered Surveyor.)
  • The Chartered Surveyor’s estimated cost of rebuilding the property after a fire, for building insurance purposes.
  • The value a Chartered Surveyor would place the property at on an open market.

Building Survey

A Building Survey is a comprehensive inspection of a property and is suitable for all properties. Buyers who are seeking to purchase listed buildings, older properties, unusually constructed buildings or properties that have had extensive alterations, should definitely consider paying for a Chartered Surveyor to conduct a Building Survey.

A Building Survey examines all accessible parts of a property and if you want to have specific areas included that you are concerned about, you can ask the Chartered Surveyor to incorporate them into the survey. A Building Survey includes the following details:

  • Faults both major and minor and what they could mean in the property’s future.
  • The possible cost of repairs that may need to be made.
  • Results of damp testing conducted on the walls of the property.
  • Any damage to the timbers of the property, including woodworm and rot.
  • The condition of any damp-proofing in the property.
  • The condition of the insulation in the property.
  • The general condition of the drainage, although the drains are not tested in detail by the Chartered Surveyor unless requested by the buyer.
  • Technical information on the construction of the property and the materials used.
  • Location information.
  • Recommendations for any further special inspections that may need to be made to the property before purchasing.

Please note that Building Surveys do not include a property valuation. However, your Chartered Surveyor can provide this valuation separately if required to do so by you.

Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Information

If you are uncertain about which type of survey you require or you have particular concerns about a property that you are interested in purchasing, then you can talk to a RICS member or access reports from the RICS website.

A RICS member will be happy to discuss any particular concerns you may have in more detail and they can help you to decide which survey is best suited to your needs. The RICS survey reports are completely independent and are designed to help you to make a more informed decision about a property you are interested in purchasing.

The RICS requires all of its members to agree terms and conditions with a client before a contract is signed and a service is carried out. The Chartered Surveyor is also obliged to include a fee or the method for calculation of their fee in these terms and conditions. This process therefore reduces the likelihood of any surprises for either the client or the Chartered Surveyor with regard to fees.

If you do have a complaint about a Chartered Surveyor, the RICS has a redress system in place. Please see their website for more information.