Full House Surveys

A Structural Survey is a comprehensive examination of the condition of a house or other property. It reports on the general structural condition of the visible load-bearing elements such as roof structure, floors, and load-bearing walls of the property. The final report provides an extensive level of detail, which is vital when buying or selling a house.

 

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A Structural Survey is a comprehensive examination of the condition of a house or other property. It reports on the general structural condition of the visible load-bearing elements such as roof structure, floors, and load-bearing walls of the property. The final report provides an extensive level of detail, which is vital when buying or selling a house.

The idea behind structural surveys is to prevent nasty surprises and find the potential for future disasters when moving house. A positive house survey can give buyers and sellers peace of mind. Most providers deliver surveys through a professional chartered surveyor. At Structures Made Easy, every house survey is conducted by civil/ structural engineers, who have the deep expertise to find any issues and develop solutions for fixing even the thorniest problem.

There’s a lot involved in a structural building survey. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps, answer critical questions, and hopefully give you everything you need to make an informed choice about who you engage for your full structural survey.

What is a Structural Building Survey?

 

A Structural Survey is the most complete survey examination you can undertake on a property. It looks at specific elements of the building’s condition and components, and provides details about the condition, alongside any potential worries. Structural house surveys are a particular requirement for older buildings or a property with an unconventional type of construction. It’s also suitable for properties that require renovation or extension work — or have had such work done in the past.

Unlike less rigorous surveys, a full structural survey provides an informative level of detail after experts analyse the structural areas of the building. The survey evaluates the condition of the building, assesses load paths, captures any defects of the property, points to their likely cause, sets the level of urgency for repairs, explains the requirements in detail, and can give indicative costs that need to be considered when engaging someone to make the repairs.

Obtaining a quote for a structural building survey starts by making sure the survey company is professional, experienced and competent. At Structures Made Easy, our structural / full building survey services are conducted by accredited and chartered civil/ structural engineers, guaranteeing professionalism and a higher level of expertise.

What Does A Full Building Survey Cover?

 

Structural Surveys encompass a thorough internal and external inspection of a property, with the outcome and any recommendations detailed in a comprehensive survey report. A structural surveyor conducts the inspection in-person, looking at all the visible and sometimes less-visible areas of the property, including those that are usually inaccessible: behind walls, foundations, under floors, behind finishes, around windows, under roofs, cellars, garages, and more.

After discussion and once you have confirmed you want to proceed, the surveyor will note any specific concerns about the property and give them added attention once the inspection is underway.

Internally the surveyor will look at the property for inspection load bearing elements such as:

  • Floors and walls
  • Staircase areas
  • Chimney breastsfull house structural survey
  • Bulkheads possibly hiding structural beams and lintels

This could mean accessing all internal bedrooms, corridors, bathrooms, kitchen , attic, garage and cellar spaces.

Externally they will inspect the property for:

  • Chimney
  • Visible parts of the roof
  • Main windows & doors lintels and walls
  • Drainage
  • Garages and conservatories
  • Landscape areas containing structures such as retaining walls or boundary walls

In most cases, you’ll receive your report in 5-6 working days by email.

 

When Do You Need Structural Survey?

 

 

Structural Surveys can be conducted on any type of property or any age or type of construction; in most cases, however, structural surveys are undertaken for buildings that are 50 years old — or older. They’re also used to examine buildings with obvious defects that need specific expert attention.

full house structural survey

For a property under 50 years of age, a less extensive building survey like a Homebuyers Survey might be more suitable. A Homebuyers Survey is often suitable and detailed enough to cover any areas of concern. If a new building is being bought or sold a Homebuyers Survey is likely sufficient, and a new build is unlikely to have experienced any long-term structural degradation. For facilities that are 50-years-old and up, it’s much more likely a surveyor will find hidden issues or structural damage due to aging. That’s where a detailed structural survey proves its value.

A structural survey can also be applied to buildings that have an unusual structure or have been constructed using unconventional materials. If there has already been an extensive renovation, or you plan on starting a renovation or adding an extension, a survey of the property and clean report is an essential part of your planning.

 

 

Basement Impact Assessment Reports

 

It’s worth noting that in Greater London, many local authorities require a basement assessment as part of any application for planning permission. Any works undertaken must be entirely hazarded and risk assessed with a full structural survey and report with a passing grade.

This is required to review the impacts on flooding, surrounding structures and the local geology to ensure any known risks are mitigated. Another critical area of the assessment report is to understand sequence and method of construction & temporary works and record the proximity of the development to public footpaths and buildings.

London’s underlying geology is made primarily of clay,  which are prone to seasonal shrink and swell, which in turn can lead to subsidence and heave. In exaggerated cases, this can lead to movement of the foundations of a house and ultimately the superstructure above. The specific ground conditions within the vicinity of the property should be taken into consideration to assess any potential issues during or after the construction of a new basement.

 

 

How Much Does A Structural Survey Cost?

 

This type of survey, depending on the size of your home, a structural survey from Structures Made Easy costs from£650+VAT and generally go up to £1000+VAT — but in some cases cost more. Basement impact assessment reports from £1900+VAT or above. Method statements start from £750+VAT or above for residential property.

The scope of a structural survey can vary from project to project, so if you are looking for a building survey, please contact us to discuss costs. The final price would be determined by the condition, size and location of the house. Larger buildings and or one in visibly distressed situations will typically need more time to complete. Accessibility may also impact the cost as the surveyor will need access to almost every area of the building, and limited access can lead to extended time or specialist kit being required.

Common questions about structural surveys

 

Will the structural surveyor examine the loft?

Surveyors will inspect the loft and pay particular attention to the roof. The roof is often where structural problems hide, particularly as this is an area of the building not typically shown to buyers.

Will the structural surveyor examine cupboards?

Surveyors will open cupboards to check for unseen damage or defects that might worsen. The surveyor will take care of the contents of the cupboard and ensure they have the owner’s consent before moving anything.

Will the structural surveyor look at the boiler?

No, this is not part of the structure thus outside the scope of the structural survey.

Will they look for Japanese knotweed?

A surveyor will look around the property and note the presence of Japanese knotweed as part of a structural survey.

How long will the report take?

Depending on the size of the property and what they find, a structural survey can take anywhere between an hour or two on site to complete the report. The report can take 5 to 10 working days to complete. The timing will vary depending on access and the property size.

Will the structural surveyor need to shift furniture?

Inspections do not involve moving furniture, fixtures, fittings, or the use of invasive procedures. The purpose of the Inspection is to determine so far as is reasonably practicable whether the structure has any visually evident defects that may compromise its stability. If any intrusive measures are required then the surveyor will raise the request accordingly.

 

 

When to organise a structural survey

 

You can book a building survey whenever at any time. However, they happen most when an offer to buy a property has been accepted. Offers are usually conditional on no major concerns being found by a structural survey. After the surveyor is finished and the report completed, the purchase price can be agreed — net of any significant costs required to make the property safe and structurally sound.

 

To make the survey a success, it’s vital to communicate with surveyors ahead of time so they can explain all the areas of the building they will need access to. This gives the buyer/seller ample time to make sure that each room or element can be reached quickly and safely. If the new property has a loft, for example, make sure either you or the structural surveyor has a ladder tall enough to reach the entry door hatch.

If a building tenant is still living or operating a business on-site, it’s essential to coordinate with them and ensure there are no scheduling conflicts or other concerns that could interfere with the surveyors work. A structural survey involves a lot of examination and ‘poking about’ that can be disruptive. Make sure everyone who might be in the building is happy for you to carry it out at the appointed time.

 

How long should the survey take?

 

It depends on the size, location and accessibility of the property being purchased. A smaller property might take surveyors as little as one hour to finish. For a larger property, it might take surveyors 2-3 hours.  

 

When will you receive the report?

 

Depending on the size of the property and the nature of any issues uncovered, it can take anywhere from 3 to 10 working days to deliver a structural survey report.

The surveyor should be able to give you a clearer idea of how much time will be needed once they’ve visited the building and made an initial assessment.

 

Other types of building survey

 

There are actually three types of building survey that buyers and sellers can consider when a building is up for sale. We’ve discussed the Structural survey at length, but there is also a Homebuyers Survey and basic Valuation Survey. Each one has a different level of detail and is appropriate for different situations.

Structural Survey

  • Suitable for older buildings, those that might have structural issues, or have been constructed unconventionally.
  • Looks at structural fabric specifically
  • Detailed and comprehensive, and at Structures Made Easy, conducted by accredited and chartered civil/ structural
  • Includes indicative costings and timelines for work needed.
  • Appropriate where plans are to convert or extensively renovate a property.
  • Homebuyers Survey / Homebuyer Report
    • Suitable for most residential homes.
    • Examines the general condition of the building and focuses on the most common areas of concern.

     

    Valuation

    • Useful when you’re applying for a mortgage.
    • Helps keep your bid for the property in line with its actual market value.

What does the structural survey report provide?

 

 A building survey report is structured around an easy-to-understand traffic light code symbols that indicate which areas of the house need immediate attention or are of greatest concern. This helps eliminate complicated jargon so that any layman can understand the contents and the urgency of any recommendations.

  • Green means the area is in good shape, has no areas of concern and needs no repairs and. The recommendation will typically be to maintain the area as you have done in the past.
  • Amber highlights defect areas. It shows what needs replacement or repair, but nothing that would be considered urgent or seriously damaged. Anything listed here would be unlikely to affect the overall value of the property but would need some investment in repairs or replacement over time.
  • Red lists any urgent defects that need to be looked at immediately replaced or addressed quickly. They are severe enough that they will likely have an impact on the final purchase price. They could be severe enough to void any offer or stop the sale of the building or could provide the basis for negotiation over the final bid, based on projected cost or repairs.

 

A structural survey will focus on the structural aspects of the property and comment whether it is serious or non serious. It will also comment on whether a movement such as subsidence is ongoing or historic. The survey will detail observations on structural defects, why defects such as cracks have originated and recommendations forward on how to resolve and fix.. The survey report may also include details on what possible repairs and maintenance may cost as a result. This is especially useful if you choose to renegotiate on the cost of the property moving forwards.

Selling a property with known or visible structural defects can not only put off prospective buyers, it also opens the door to requirements for additional assessments to be undertaken before mortgage lenders release their funds. This is why most lenders will insist on a structural survey before funds are disbursed.

A full survey and report are important to ascertain structural integrity – this is also required for most building insurances.

 

Work with a surveyor you can trust

 

We hope this guide has helped you understand structural and building surveys, and that you’re fully informed about each. At Structures Made Easy, we provide structural survey services and other quotes and reports to meet your requirements.

Our structural reports package includes:

  • Site inspection, usually a visual survey unless dictated otherwise / full structural survey by one of our structural engineers.
  • Verbal advice and discussion of structural issues during the visit.
  • Written report by a chartered or near chartered engineer.
  • Email and phone support for queries related to the technical report.
  • Homebuyer structural reports & structural surveys from our qualified structural engineers

Our structural surveys & structural reports usually include a description of the structural defects and the suspected causes, suggestions on how to remediate and estimated costs associated with fixing structural problems. Cracks in walls, ceilings and floors are caused by a number of different reasons. Depending on the size, exact location and frequency of the cracks, the risks associated can vary substantially.

We can also provide recommendations on further investigations if required, such as trial pits or CCTV surveys which may be necessary to conclude our findings. Our civil/ structural engineers can provide a full building survey and report to satisfy requirements for buyers and mortgage lenders.

Our surveyors are not associated with RICS because Structures Made Easy is an engineering firm. Our engineers are associated with the institution of civil engineers and/ or institution of structural engineers.

Get in touch to find out more about the primary services we can provide.

 

Further Information in respect of our Services

Structural Inspections are assessments of those visible elements of the building fabric – e.g. roofs, walls, floors and foundations – specified in the Scope Of Work. Inspections do not involve moving furniture, fixtures, fittings, or the use of invasive procedures. The purpose of the Inspection is to determine so far as is reasonably practicable whether the structure has any visually evident defects that may compromise its stability.

 

Structural Appraisals do involve invasive procedures such as moving furniture, fixtures, fittings, lifting floorboards, cutting holes in the structure and/or removing structural samples for off-site assessment.

Appraisals are likely to damage the building fabric and this may have to be made good. Appraisals cannot be undertaken without the prior written consent of the building owner and that must cover who is liable for making good any damage. The purpose of the Appraisal is to determine so far as is reasonably practicable whether the structure has any evident defects that may compromise its stability.

Structural Surveys are not the same as Structural Inspections or Appraisals. Structural Surveys are usually carried out by a surveyor and may provide an assessment of the building, woodwork, rainwater goods, surrounds, drainage, services, decorations, roof coverings, dry rot, timber infestation, dampness, contaminated land, asbestos, potentially hazardous materials, detached garages, outbuildings, fences and local amenities. The Consultant does NOT undertake Structural Surveys.

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