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Antony Antoniou – Luxury Property Expert

How to Choose a Surveyor – Avoiding a Property Buying Horror Story

How to Choose a Surveyor – Avoiding a Property Buying Horror Story

Buying a property is a significant investment, and relying solely on estate agency images and a quick look around might not reveal potential issues that could turn your dream home into a costly nightmare. To safeguard yourself from hidden problems, it’s crucial to get a property survey done before finalizing the purchase. A proper survey can help identify existing and potential problems, allowing you to make an informed decision. In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of property surveys, how to choose a reputable surveyor, and what to do if you encounter any issues.

Why You Need a Property Survey

A property survey is different from a valuation, which is conducted by a mortgage lender to assess the property’s value. While a property survey is not a mandatory requirement, it can save you significant amounts of money in the long run. Many older British houses are prone to various issues like asbestos, damp, subsidence, and invasive plants like Japanese knotweed. These problems might be unknown to sellers or even intentionally concealed.

Horror stories abound on online forums, like the one where a buyer discovered a crack in the wall, leading to a shocking revelation that the homeowners had removed a structural chimney breast without proper reinforcement, risking severe structural damage.

Addressing issues like subsidence or structural problems can cost around £13,500, and removing invasive plants may set you back around £4,000 or more, depending on the extent of the damage. Moreover, these problems can lead to disputes with neighbors or sellers, further complicating the situation.

However, by conducting a thorough property survey before the purchase, you can renegotiate the price or even reconsider the deal entirely. A good surveyor will identify issues like dampness, water corrosion, roof problems, woodworm, or asbestos, providing valuable insights to make an informed decision.

How to Choose a Surveyor

To choose a reputable surveyor, start by checking if they are accredited by either the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA). Look for online reviews and recommendations from friends or family who might have used their services before. Additionally, consider hiring a surveyor who is familiar with the prevalent risks in the area, as they will be more likely to spot potential problems specific to that location.

How to Choose the Right Survey

Once you’ve selected a surveyor, the next step is to decide on the appropriate type of survey. There are three main types:

1. **RICS Home Survey Level 1:** This provides a traffic light system to indicate the property’s condition and potential issues but does not offer advice or valuations.

2. **RPSA Home Condition Survey (formerly Home Buyer Report):** This checks the property’s roof spaces, highlights ongoing maintenance issues, and provides an estimate of repair costs. Some surveyors may also include property valuations.

3. **Full Structural Level 3 RICS Home Survey or RPSA Building Survey:** This is the most comprehensive survey, covering everything from the previous levels and providing a detailed analysis of the property’s structure and condition, including an inspection beneath floorboards. It identifies defects, their potential consequences if left unaddressed, estimated repair costs, and the time required for repairs.

Keep in mind that the cost of a Level 1 or Level 2 survey typically ranges from £500 to £1,000, depending on the property’s value, while a full structural survey may cost between £700 and £1,500. It’s essential to prioritize the survey’s quality over the cost, as a thorough inspection can save you a substantial amount in the long run.

How to Complain About Your Surveyor

Surveyors affiliated with RICS and RPSA must adhere to specific standards and a code of conduct. However, if you discover serious issues that were overlooked, both organizations have complaint and arbitration schemes in place to address such concerns. If you cannot reach a satisfactory resolution through these channels, you may also lodge a complaint with The Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme, if the surveyor is a member.


– Buying a property is a major investment, and a property survey is essential to avoid potential issues.
– Property surveys help identify current and potential problems like asbestos, damp, subsidence, and invasive plants.
– Hidden problems can turn your dream home into a costly nightmare if not addressed before purchase.
– Hiring a reputable surveyor is crucial; check if they are accredited by RICS or RPSA and read online reviews.
– Three types of surveys: Level 1 provides a traffic light system, Level 2 offers more detail and valuations, and Level 3 is a comprehensive structural survey.
– Prioritize the quality of the survey over the cost to save money in the long run.
– Complaint and arbitration schemes are available through RICS and RPSA if issues are missed by the surveyor.
– Additional recourse through The Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme if the surveyor is a member.

In conclusion, investing in a property survey is a crucial step in the home-buying process. By choosing a reputable surveyor and the right type of survey, you can uncover potential problems, negotiate the purchase price, and ultimately avoid a property buying horror story. Remember, a small investment in a survey can save you from substantial expenses and headaches in the future. Happy house hunting!

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