The Hockeys Guide to Home Surveys

Posted on Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Hockeys Guide to Home Surveys

Buying a property anywhere is a big commitment and buying a house in Cambridge even more so.

The picturesque buildings of Cambridge University, close proximity to London and high standards of living make it one of the most desirable and expensive places in the country to reside. House prices in Cambridge have continued to rise in the past 12 months, with the overall average price of a property reaching over £500,000 according to Rightmove – twice the national average.

If you are lucky enough to find your dream property and have an offer accepted, the last thing you want to do is shell out for unexpected essential home improvements once you move in. That’s where surveys come in. So, what is the purpose of a survey and which type should you go for? Read on for the answers!

What Is A Survey?

Put simply, a survey is an inspection of a property undertaken by an expert – a surveyor. It uncovers any issues with the house pre-purchase, so the buyer has an idea of any recommended or essential work that will need to be carried out.

Why Do I Need A Survey?

“It’s prudent to have a survey, whatever type of property you’re buying,” says Paul Muscutt, Director at Cambridge Chartered Surveyors and Property Consultants Westley and Huff.

“In most cases, buying a house is your biggest ever purchase, so you need to be sure about it. A survey gives peace of mind about the property you’re buying and also acts as a checklist about work that may need to be done to your home. Yes, it may cost a few hundred pounds initially, but it could save you in the long run.

“Pre-Covid, a valuation survey would be undertaken by the lender, but the pandemic has made desktop valuations more commonplace - so it is more important than ever to instruct your own survey to ensure an expert has checked the property before purchase.”

So, what are the different types of survey, and which one should you opt for?

Level 1 – House Valuation Survey

“This isn’t strictly speaking a survey” says Muscutt. “It is more a valuation for a mortgage company or bank.”

“It’s really to show the lender that, should the buyer default on their mortgage payment, the asset is valuable enough for them to retrieve their investment - it will highlight any major problems which are likely to affect the value of the property, but won’t go into great depth about the condition of the house.”

Level 2 – Homebuyers Report

“A homebuyers report is more comprehensive than the house valuation survey,” according to Muscutt.

“It starts at the top of the building and works its way down, with the surveyor making comments on the general conditions of each part of the house – this includes the roof, chimney, gutters, wall and windows. It won’t go into minute detail, but it will provide a general overview and highlight areas of concern.

“A homebuyers report is generally speaking for houses of a fairly modest side and modicum of age as well – typically from the 70’s upwards.”

Level 3 - Building Survey

Muscutt explains: “A building survey is generally regarded for much older properties that have a higher chance of having significant defects - such as grade 2 listed or Victorian buildings.

“It goes through a similar process to a homebuyers report, but the surveyor is onsite for much longer and can delve much more deeply into the bones of the property including the structure, adding photos to illustrate findings - which isn’t a feature of a homebuyers report.”

Post-Survey Support

Once the survey is complete, the surveyor will compile the report and send it on to the client.

“With a level 2 and level 3 survey, we will speak with the client after we’ve delivered the report just to take them through it step by step” says Muscutt.

“We try and filter out the jargon so each client understands exactly what the report is saying - we will then discuss the findings before referring the client to local specialists who can carry out the necessary work if required.”

In summary then, a survey isn’t as complicated or scary as its sounds – and the smart advice? Have one done!