This reply was written by Brian Binfield – FCIOB Dip HI, Building Consultant at Regional Surveying Services Ltd in Kent
Q: After almost a year of searching, my partner and I have found a great property we want to buy in North London. It has all the space we need to start a family and has been recently redecorated – however, the original building is very old. The estate agent mentioned that we should commission a full building survey report, do we really need one?
A: If you’re buying a new house, the answer’s ‘yes’! Always hire a qualified and experienced building surveyor to carry out a full building survey on any property you want to buy. They’ll be able to find out if the building has any underlying flaws and whether it meets all the necessary Statutory Approvals such as planning permission and building regulation approval. Ultimately, a building survey report will tell you whether the property you want to buy is worth the asking price or not.
I had a client recently who was looking to buy a property in Canterbury. Both the vendor and the estate agent assured her that she didn’t need a residential building survey, but when I arrived at the premises to complete the survey I noticed a strong smell coming from within the roof void. When I inspected further I discovered that the roof void and the external cladding were both full of wood worm! As a result of this and another drainage problem I discovered, the client managed to get £12,000 reduced from asking price!
Another one of our clients was also told that the property she wished to buy was structurally sound. In fact, the building condition survey carried out by our company found that the property’s walls didn’t meet thermal requirements, there were damp ceilings throughout, and the foundations of the house were compromised by subsidence. These findings enabled this client to also negotiate a substantial amount off of the asking price.
The most important thing when hiring a building surveyor is to make sure the person or company you hire has hands-on practical experience and preferably a Chartered Institute of Building Qualification, as all our surveyors do. Some other types of professionals such as quantity surveyors or estate agents offer to carry out full building surveys; and while some might be capable of this, others just don’t have the practical experience of those employed by specialist surveying companies like RSS Ltd – so be careful who you hire.