What type of survey should you have for an older property?

Many property buyers opt for a mid-level survey, such as the RICS Home Survey, thinking this will save them money, without realising it could cost them dearly in the long run. RICS themselves state that their homebuyer reports are not suitable for older houses as they do not provide enough information. Older or run-down properties need a far more comprehensive survey than new houses.

There are many cities in the UK which have predominantly older buildings, such as Oxford. Although beautiful, this older architecture requires a thorough examination for any potential issues. There are many reputable conveyancers who can arrange a connection with a surveyor for a home buyers survey Oxford, such as Sam Conveyancing.

A level 3 RICS Building Survey (previously called a structural survey) will report on any maintenance and repair issues and defects, providing you with detailed information about the structure of the building. This will come in the form of a tailored report with a full description of the construction and condition of every element of the building, a section on energy efficiency and an overall opinion on the condition and any suggested further investigations. You can read about the level 3 survey in more detail here:  A Building Survey is more expensive than the other RICS surveys because it is more comprehensive and takes longer to carry out, but it is often money well spent.

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Why is this type of survey better?

A level 3 RICS Building Survey will involve a lot of specialised equipment which is not used for the lower-cost surveys. A qualified surveyor will have a good understanding of the construction of older houses and why they often have problems with damp. They will carry out tests to measure humidity, cold spots and moisture content in the building, including under the floors and behind cupboards. This type of survey is very different from the tick-box style reports offered for simpler surveys, which will not find such issues. Most damp and timber issues are easy enough to resolve, but specialist knowledge of the building and the materials it is built from are needed in order to accurately diagnose and address any problems.

What else will the survey check for?

The Building Survey will highlight whether the surveyor thinks your property may have subsidence. If subsidence is suspected, you will then need to instruct a structural engineer or a chartered building surveyor to conduct a subsidence survey. The structural engineer will carry out an ‘intrusive assessment’ along with a builder. The footings of the foundations of the building will be inspected in order to locate the subsidence, determine what is causing it and what work will be required to stabilise the foundations.

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The level 3 Building Survey will also flag any signs of asbestos, in which case you would need a specialist Asbestos Survey. This survey will physically test the suspect material, whereas a RICS surveyor does not carry out this test. The Asbestos Survey is an intrusive inspection during which a specialist surveyor will remove samples of the suspected asbestos to take away for analysis. The report will state what type of asbestos has been found and how it can be removed. It may include an estimate of how much it will cost to remove it.

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