Buyers Guide

Surveying a Property

A property survey typically happens once you have had an offer accepted on a property you wish to purchase. It involves a detailed inspection of the property’s structural integrity and anything that has compromised it or could potentially compromise it in the future.

A professional property survey will be carried out by a surveyor. It is important to check before you contact them that they are a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). RICS represents over eighty-thousand surveyors, all of whom operate to the highest of standards.

A property survey is not obligatory, however, if you are applying for a mortgage, the lender will insist that a survey is carried out to protect you both financially down the line.

Once you have made the offer, it is important to find a surveyor promptly and organise a date on which the survey can take place. While the survey is being carried out, the surveyor will look over numerous aspects of the property, including:

  • The land the property is situated on
  • The property’s history
  • The condition of the walls
  • The garden
  • The state of the roof
  • Any presence of hazardous material
  • The electrics
  • The central heating
  • Plumbing
  • The presence of pets
  • The loft
  • The doors and windows

While all of the above are routine when it comes to property surveys across the country, Cornish homes may present a little more of a challenge with more specific things to look out for:

  • Mundic

Many properties in the South West used to be built with a concrete made of waste mining materials. This concrete can decompose, and the word ‘mundic’ is used to describe the deterioration of the mineral constituents found in the aggregate. Surveyors with sound local knowledge will provide a check on any mundic in the property you are looking at.

  • Mines

Cornwall has a rich history of mining and found itself at the centre of the country’s Industrial Revolution in the 1700s and 1800s. The majority of the county’s mines are now unused, but many still pose a problem because of their proximity to commercial and residential land. A local surveyor will have knowledge of these mines and will factor in how close the property in question is to a mine and how to best proceed with the sale.

  • Radon

Radon is a noble gas; it can’t be seen, and it is tasteless and odourless. A high concentration, however, can be dangerous to humans. The South West has the highest concentration of Radon in the country, and many homes are fitted with Radon detectors to warn occupants if the level rises. Local professionals will be able to test for Radon and include the findings in any property survey

A surveyor will conduct different surveys in accordance with which report you choose to proceed with. There are three choices of property survey that can be carried out, each of which tailored to your needs as the buyer:

  1. RICS Condition Report

A RICS Condition Report is the most basic and least costly of the RICS surveys. It uses a traffic light system to rate the property you are looking at, with green indicating that everything is okay, yellow highlighting some concerns, and red indicating that repairs and maintenance are crucial.

  1. RICS Homebuyer Report

The RICS Homebuyer Report uses the same basic system as the Condition Report. It does, however, include the surveyor’s opinion on whether or not you should go ahead the with purchase of the property and, if they believe it is a sound purchase, they will tell you whether they believe if the price you have offered is reasonable. Guidance will also be offered on the maintenance that may be needed on the house.

The RICS Homebuyer report is the most popular option of the three and is suitable for most modern homes and older properties that don’t require too much attention.

  1. RICS Building Survey

The most in-depth and costly of the three surveys, the RICS Building Survey will provide the most comprehensive report of the property’s condition, any current defects, potential for renovation, and solutions for maintenance issues.

The RICS Building Survey is tailored to larger and older properties or any property that you will be planning on making major renovations to. It is recommended for listed buildings, property that are over thirty years old, unusual builds, and properties that have already had extensive renovations.

How to Choose a Surveyor

Choosing a surveyor can be difficult, particularly when it seems as if they all offer the same service.

First of all, it is important that they are registered with RICS. The surveyor will have MRICS or FRICS after their name, ensuring that they are working to the highest professional surveying standards.

Local knowledge is key when it comes to surveying. The surveyor will have knowledge and experience of the type of land and property in question and will be able to complete the most accurate report efficiently.

Fees will not only differ with the type of survey that you would like conducted, but they will also differ from firm to firm as well. It is recommended to not instruct a surveyor based on the fees they are charging, but rather on their experience, accuracy, and efficiency.

Here at Lillicrap Chilcott, we have numerous links to prominent surveyors in the South West, all of which have a fantastic track record, and we are more than happy to help you find the best surveyor for the property you are looking to purchase.

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