Do I Need a Building Survey?

August 22, 2019

Do I need a survey?

We have always said that for most people, buying a house will mean making the highest value purchase they have ever made. With the average UK house price at the time of writing (22/08/19) being £230,292 and £471,504 in London this is for many a huge investment.

There are estimated to be around 25 million homes in the UK ( and in the year 2016-2017 around 184,000 new homes were built ( This means that less than 1% of housing stock at any one time is new. There are no other markets that spring to mind where over 99% of the stock sold is second hand except perhaps antiques!

The view of the top of a loft conversion, normally not visible without dangerously climbing onto this space

In property law there is a phrase, Caveat emptor or buyer beware. This is the idea that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of a property before buying it. This means that if you buy a house and find that there is a serious problem with it once you move in, it is up to you to put this right.

With this in mind, a surveyor can provide invaluable information on that old house you are looking to buy. A surveyor, armed with construction knowledge and the right professional equipment will be able to tell you about all the hidden problems that could end up costing you lots of money after you move in. If you are still set on buying, you can use the opportunity to renegotiate the price to reflect the works that need to be undertaken.

A ‘newly’ refurbished flat where wet patches were present every time it rained

Not only is housing stock second hand (or third or fourth etc) it is necessary to contend with dubious construction practices. We have seen countless examples of ‘newly’ refurbished properties that when you look a little closer have some serious defects. Take for example the image above. This was a flat in a converted Victorian house that had been refurbished very recently. When I inspected it was clear that the roof was leaking and when looking at the roof above, the center valley as it is called, was holding water:

The question should not be ‘should I have a Building Survey’ but rather ‘why shouldn’t I’!?

Remember, this could be your property and it will be your responsibility to maintain it. Make sure you know what you are letting yourself in for!

Posted by:

Robert Hopps

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