2 Building Survey Reports and When You Should Ask For Them

Building surveys are usually conducted at a potential home/property buyer's request, although a realtor may also request for a survey if they suspect there's something wrong, or as a way to assure buyers about the integrity of a building. Once the survey is conducted, you're often given a report that details any defects and outlines remedies, possible alterations or potential legal and insurance issues.

Buying real estate is the biggest investment many people make in their lives, and hence it's important to have an independent party go through the property with a fine-toothed comb and tell you whether you're making a worthy investment. This article highlights two types of building surveys and situations in which each is beneficial.

1. The Basic Home Buyer's Report

This is a basic survey and costs less than a full structural survey. You should request for this survey if you're eyeing a fairly new (no more than three decades), standard house, constructed from standard materials (stone, tile and brick) that looks okay even to your untrained eye. Of course, the reason you still need a survey even if everything looks okay is that sellers have a way of glossing over defects, e.g., placing furniture strategically, filling cracks, etc.

The surveyor goes through every part of the house (360-degree cameras are used to shoot inaccessible areas) and highlights any defects, e.g., damp walls (plumbing issue, possible leaks), rot or termite infestation on timber, drainage and insulation issues and damp-proofing status.

Additionally, you can get an estimated cost of necessary repairs, which you can use to negotiate down the buying price or compel the seller to make the repairs before moving ahead. Finally, the building surveyor can tell you whether or not you're making a worthy investment based on the state of the building and market value and trends in your locale.

2. The full Structural Survey

A full structural survey is more expensive because it covers a lot more ground. It should be done on older buildings (over three decades), buildings constructed over clay-rich soils (more prone to subsidence and settlement disturbance), regions with bad weather (earthquake/tremor activity, strong winds/hurricanes, etc.) as well as houses build using non-standard materials.

A full survey is also useful if you intend to make modifications on the house, e.g., building extensions, or if the previous owner made modifications to it – it makes sense to confirm that all alterations were done safely and properly.

You can expect a more detailed report that highlights the integrity of the property including all structural problems from the foundation to the roof, building material integrity, damp testing and all the details of the home buyer's report. Additionally, there will be technical assessments of the construction and recommendations for additional inspections, repairs or other modifications to make the space better for your purposes. For more information, contact your local building surveying company.