Top Tips for Getting a House Surveyed
Finally! After months of searching, you’ve found your dream home.
Your offer has been accepted, you have your deposit ready, and you’re just waiting for your mortgage lender to sign-off on loan approval.
You only have to get them a Structural Survey and…
Wait. A structural what, now?
Truth is, a lot of banks and financial institutions require a Structural Survey to be completed on a property before they green-light a mortgage.
Also true: Most eager home-buyers don’t even consider it – or its additional expense – when putting together their buyer checklist.
In fact, according to the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) a whopping 60% of buyers don’t lock in a detailed Structural Survey when buying a home, even though this purchase is probably the biggest investment they’ll make in their lifetime.
But here’s the thing. A Structural Survey (also known as a 'House Survey', 'Building Inspection' or 'Pre-purchase Survey') is essential for you to understand the health of the home you may be living in for the rest of your life and for that reason, is likely to be the best money you’ll ever spend.
Consideration #1: Beware of Differences in Structural Surveys
Not all Structural Surveys are created equal. If your bank asks for a Standard Surveyors Report or a Mortgage Valuation they’re simply looking for confirmation that the value and condition of the property is in line with the loan amount.
However, many house-buyers are unaware of this and think that the Mortgage Valuation offers proof that the property is in tip-top shape.
It doesn’t. To secure that kind of proof, you need more than a ‘walk-through home inspection.’
You need a Full Structural Survey Evaluation, which is a deep dive into drains (not literally, of course!), roofs, attics, wall structure, and service installations.
This kind of report will tell you how well insulated and fire-protected your new home-to-be is, and whether the “character-building” chinks in the wall are likely to crack open like an egg over time!
Consideration #2: Crucial Areas the Report Must Cover
A full Structural Survey will also include comments on the cosmetic finish of the property, such as floors, kitchen and bathroom fittings, doors, etc. Overall, you should expect this comprehensive report to cover:
- Analysis of major and minor flaws and defects
- Repairs and maintenance advice
- Rot and damp test results as applicable
- Assessment of current damp-proofing, drainage, insulation and roof-space
- Information on the types of materials used in the property
- Recommendations for further specialist inspection if needed.
Should You Ditch Your Dream?
Remember that no house is perfect. If your surveyor points out a few flaws and issues, it doesn’t mean your dream pad’s a dud.
It does allow you to reconsider buying, of course, but also to renegotiate the sale price.
After all, if you discover that you’ll need to replace a rotting roof to the tune of €5,000, you can discuss with the seller whether this can be subtracted from the original price tag.
Buying a new house or apartment can leave you strapped for cash, so being able to shave a wedge of money off the overall property price is something to be welcomed!
Consideration #3: Get in the Professionals
Whomever you choose must be registered with one of the several governing bodies who operate in Ireland and have their own professional indemnity insurance.
A written report from a family friend who’s a “dab hand at do-it-yourself,” will not suffice.
Though surveyors can be architects, engineers, or quantity surveyors, the SCSI is the professional body for Chartered Surveyors in Ireland, and they can help you source a surveyor in your area.
Additionally, if you’re buying an unusual house, such as an old mill, castle, or your own personal Pemberley, they can recommend someone with particular expertise of specialised buildings.
Other companies, such as Get House Survey, also have listed experienced surveyors who are SCSI or RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) members.
Yes, Experience Matters:
Check that your surveyor has experience in Pre-purchase Surveys. Why? The more experience a surveyor has, the higher the chances of them spotting something serious.
Even though a surveyor does not check for things like Pyrite (this requires drilling into foundations and a lab test), someone who’s been in the game long enough to spot sneaky structural issues could end up saving you thousands in repairs later on.
Get the Lowdown from Past Customers:
You probably wouldn’t buy a coffee-maker online without looking at the reviews first – it’s no different when choosing a Surveyor.
When seeking out the best possible professional to conduct your Building Survey, ask your solicitor, estate agency and even recent house-buyers in your life for recommendations.
If you’re researching online, read reviews or ask potential surveyors for past customer testimonials.
A good surveyor should happily display or share their reviews, and after all, you want to know that the survey content and format you receive will meet the requirements of any bank or financial institution.
Bottom line - Structural surveys are another cost to a probably already–tight, house-buying budget. So be smart, and only hand over your hard-earned cash to someone whose credentials you trust.
Follow the Surveyors Recommendation:
And finally, once you’re ensconced in your new home, follow the surveyor's recommendations - no matter how small.
You forked out the funds for a reason. So, if they gave recommendations like “clear moss from the roof”, “clear gutters”, or “replace insulation in the attic”, don’t just leave it floundering on your to-do-list – get to it!
Fixing flaws and issues sooner rather than later, will not only make your dream home even dreamier, but could save you hundreds, or even thousands, of euros in the long run.