If you are buying a property then you should always have a survey carried out before you exchange contracts.
‘Let the buyer beware’
This is because of the ‘buyer beware’ principle upon which property transactions are based. It is the buyer’s responsibility to carry out all investigations on the property and find any problems or issues that there may be. If you have a survey then this can show up issues that wouldn’t always be visible during a viewing of the property. It is important that you discover any potential safety hazards and financial pitfalls. You should do this before you exchange contracts to purchase the property.
Mortgage lender requirements
If you are purchasing the property with the aid of a mortgage then your lender will carry out a basic valuation survey. This will establish whether the property is worth the money being paid for it. A copy of this is usually available from the lender however some will not provide this.
Types of survey
Most purchasers of property will undertake a Homebuyer’s Survey which is more detailed than a basic valuation. Some mortgage lenders will allow you to add the cost of this survey to the mortgage. This means the buyer can pay the costs over time. The reason for this is that surveys are quite expensive.
Some purchasers will have a full structural survey performed (this is more detailed than a Homebuyers Survey). This is most likely when the property is older or of high value.
If any physical defects are revealed then if they are significant you may decide not to buy the property. Alternatively you could obtain quotations for the remedial work and ask the sellers to reduce the purchase price to reflect the cost of the works. However once you have exchanged contacts there is no going back to the seller should anything come to light at a later date.
Any questions that you have about the results of the survey specifically should be directed to the surveyor.
You can get further advice from the RICS website