There is a big difference between property surveys and lenders’ valuations, which are explained as follows:

A property valuation determines the value of the property and ensures that the property you want to purchase is worth the same amount that you want to borrow to pay for it. It is paid for by you but carried out for the benefit of the mortgage lender so that they can be sure that their investment is worth it, safe, and secure before they approve your mortgage.

However, a property valuation does not reveal the true condition of the property. It does not uncover any issues with the property or tell you anything about the building’s condition. It does not highlight costly defects or potential faults with the building or assess its structural integrity. It does not offer an accurate analysis of the property or provide any further advice on how to rectify faults. For this reason, a property valuation alone is limited because it is not detailed or sufficient enough to tell you everything you need to know about a property. Only a survey will provide you with a full, comprehensive, and accurate image of the property.

Viewing a property is more about deciding whether it suits your needs and desires. You’ll get a general feel for its condition, but without proper investigation by a qualified building surveyor most people will be unaware of serious defects and problems. Which down the line will most likely become apparent and could have serious financial implications. According to research by Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), more than a fifth of homebuyers who did not take out a survey prior to purchasing their property found themselves owning a property they would not have purchased had they had been aware of its true condition.

There are numerous possible issues that may be revealed in a survey, but just a few of the most common are:

  • Structural movement — This may be due to subsidence or to the materials deteriorating, but it could lead to cracks in walls, foundations and other parts of the building.

  • Drainage problems — If drain pipes are faulty, there’s the potential for serious water damage.

  • Asbestos — Although it’s now known that asbestos causes serious health hazards, it was widely used in construction until it was banned in 1999. If the property includes asbestos, it will need to be removed.

  • Damp — If the building has inadequate ventilation or damp-proofing, it could suffering from rising damp, mould or condensation.

You are under no legal obligation to obtain a survey however we always highly advise our clients to have one undertaken by a qualified and RICS approved surveyor.

When we receive a copy of the survey from a client, we will check the section confirming the legal issues for legal advisors, and where necessary include them in any pre-contract enquiries we may need to raise with the seller’s solicitors. Anything else which relates to the building, structure or condition should be checked by professional contractors who can give you quotes for any works of a serious concern. The quotes can then be given to the estate agents who may be able to help with negotiating a sale price reduction or simply ask the sellers to fix any problems before exchange, if possible.

Should you have any questions regarding the above, please feel free to contact Carla Eagleson, a Property Lawyer at WBW Solicitors on 01803 407621 or email at carlaeagleson@wbw.co.uk