Guide to choosing a surveyor

Whether you’ve bought land or a building; a commercial property or a home, you’re likely going to need a surveyor. Surveyors help you protect your investment by insuring you know exactly what you are purchasing.

What you see isn’t always what you get.

In fact, in the world of real estate, what you see is seldom what you get. A cursory overview of the property and/or home will not always show where property lines begin and end, nor will it alert you to any outstanding or potential legal issues or building restrictions pertaining to your purchase. In other words, what you don’t know can hurt you.

The best way to steer clear of avoidable hassel is to get the right surveyor for you, and your property.

First, determine if you require a Homebuyers Report or a Full Building Survey.

Homebuyers Report

This is the more affordable option of the two types of surveys. The reason is simple: it involves less actual surveying. In some cases, this is enough. For instance, if your property is only a couple decades old and in fairly good shape, then this survey could be enough. The surveyor will seek out urgent issues that could affect the value of the property.

Here’s the purpose of a Homebuyers Report:

To access the condition of the home/property and identify any issues.

This could include identifying major faults in the structural integrity of any buildings on the property, thereby drawing attention to urgent issues which require inspection by a specialist prior to committing to anything. It also includes testing for dampness in walls and checking for presence of woodworm or rot.

To determine whether or not the asking price is reasonable.

This includes ascertaining the value of the house on the open market, the approximate cost of rebuilding the home after a fire, and whether or not the asking price is reasonable considering the condition of the building.

To illuminate any considerations or arrangements that should be made prior to purchase or prior to making any commitments.

This includes divulging any legal complaints against the home, or any pre-existing disputes or discrepancies in the deed.

Full Building Survey

More expensive than a Homebuyers Report, a Full Building Survey is predictably more comprehensive. This sort of survey offers a detailed assessment of a property’s condition, and is ideal for properties or buildings that are older than 30 years old, are listed, are of an unconventional construction or that have undergone extreme renovations, and properties or buildings which you are intending to renovate or change in any capacity.

Your surveyor will provide you with a report listing minute details concerning the construction of your building or formation of the property. The list will include:

  • the materials used in construction
  • serious and minor problems and any issues these problems could present
  • potential cost of repairs
  • any harm to timber, including rot and woodworm
  • the condition of the damp-proofing, drainage and insulation — keep in mind the drains are not tested
  • the location of the property and any major restrictions imposed on location (ex. building restrictions or environmental regulations)

Finally, a Full Building Survey will include recommendations for additional inspection by specialists.

The Price of Surveying

The price of a survey  — whether it be a Homebuyers Report or a Full Building Survey  — depends on the individual or company conducting the survey, as well as (and this is the big one) the property being surveyed. Not only does the value of the home impact the price of the survey, but so does the degree of complication involved in making the survey. For instance, the cost of a Homebuyers Survey for a small home with a lot of problems could be more than the cost of a Full Building Survey for a bigger home with few or no problems.

It’s impossible to make accurate generalisations. However, on a comparably valued home in comparable condition, a Full Building Survey is typically around $300 hundred dollars more than a Homebuyers Survey. So, the approximate cost of a Homebuyers Survey for a home valued at $200,000 would be around $540, while a Full Building survey would cost about $870.

This guide should help you determine which option is best for you and your potential investment. Whatever you do, don’t overlook at least considering a survey. Surveys are meant to illuminate the murkier (and more costly) corners of property buying, so spending little money up front now could save you a lot of money, stress and time down the road.

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