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How To Deal With Bad Home Survey Results

How To Deal With Bad Home Survey Results

How To Deal With Bad Home Survey Results

Buying a house or flat may be exciting, but it’s also a huge investment and possibly the largest financial commitment you’re ever likely to make. That’s why it is so important to carry out a property survey before you exchange contracts.

The results and expert opinion contained in the survey report are critical information for the buyer. This is your chance to get behind the estate agent’s spiel and dig beneath the well-presented façade. Having the building checked out by an independent professional will help you gain a thorough insight into the property you’re about to buy.

It is no understatement to say that a home survey can make or break the deal. But if the survey throws up unexpected problems with the building, is walking away from the purchase the only real sensible option?

What major problems could the survey pick up?

Most residential surveys aren’t invasive, meaning surveyors are often not able to look behind walls or under floorboards. But regardless of whether you go for a standard RICS HomeBuyer Report or a full Building Survey, they should all highlight major building issues found, including:

  • Damp

Rising damp, penetrating damp and condensation needs a thorough investigation to establish the root cause and scale of the problem, which may be a wider consequence of building neglect, especially in older buildings. Most damp issues are fixable, but the cost of remedial treatment can run into thousands.

  • Timber decay

The main causes of wood decay are wet rot and dry rot, both of which can materially affect the structural integrity of supporting timbers. Dry rot is the bigger threat; it’s more destructive and more expensive to treat.

  • Rotten windows

Wooden window frames are part of the appeal of period architecture but they haven’t always been looked after. While it is perfectly possible to refurbish original sash windows, it may be more cost effective to replace the old windows with more modern versions.

  • Old electrics

If the property doesn’t conform to modern standards of electrical safety, costly rewiring may be necessary. This is a slow, messy and disruptive job that requires lifting floorboards, drilling into walls and ceilings and redecorating.

  • Subsidence

Structural movement as a result of the supporting soil moving from under the building’s foundations is a serious matter. The cause could be a nearby tree or a water leak from a damaged drain, which can be fixed. But it may be difficult to get home insurance for a house with a history of subsidence.

  • Japanese knotweed

One of the most invasive plants in the UK, having Japanese knotweed in the vicinity of your property will make it more difficult to get a mortgage and home insurance. Ideally, a treatment plan is already in place.

If your home survey discovers evidence of any of the above – bearing in mind that this is not an exhaustive list – the first rule is not to lose your head. Here are 4 steps to take before making your next move.

Consult with your surveyor

Having digested the report, ask your surveyor to take you through the findings in detail so that you fully understand the scale of each problem found – this should be offered as part of the original survey package. Next, discuss recommended actions to address each issue. Do you need to get a specialist survey and drill deeper? Should you get quotes from a builder or contractor? Is it a good idea to speak to the seller at this stage? Would they encourage you to buy another property instead?

Get a second expert opinion

Sometimes, specific defects come to light that requires further investigation before you can make an informed decision. As this surveyor explains: “A Building Defect Report can focus on individual parts of the building structures, such as individual cracking or distortion, or it can be a more general investigation of issues such as the condition of mortar pointing, roof coverings, damp or timber defects.” A specialist survey may make you feel more positive about the property or it may scare you off completely, but at least you’re taking the decision in the fullness of all the available facts.

What are the cost implications?

If the property you are thinking of buying has major building issues, putting them right will clearly have financial implications. Obtain professional advice from your surveyor, specialist contractors or building companies and get at least two independent cost estimates so that you can make comparisons in terms of scope and price. Think carefully about whether you would be willing and able to take on a big project, and how to find the budget to make the necessary improvements to the building.

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