When buying a property
When buying a property, a building survey is generally required:
- Prior to exchange of contract
- Before work starts on extending the property
- Prior to a major conversion or renovation
- Making structural alterations
A full building survey is particularly valuable – and often essential – for investigating properties that are:
- Older or bigger
- Extensively altered
If you are a property buyer or a homeowner in Greater London, the essential, professional advice by chartered surveyors, civil engineers and structural engineers is to ensure you carry out the correct and appropriate building survey required.
Our building surveying services in London are civil engineer-led to provide, but not limited to:
- A full building survey report to satisfy most requirements including, mortgage lenders.
- Site inspection, usually a visual survey unless advised otherwise.
- Verbal advice and discussion of the building survey during site visit.
- Written report by a chartered, near chartered structural engineer.
- Email and phone support for queries related to the technical report.
Further building surveying inspections to:
- View opening up works, if required.
- Sign off work undertaken (by request only).
Further supplementary reports.
What is a Building Survey?
A Building Survey involves a detailed inspection and full breakdown of the fabric and condition of a property. It covers all aspects of the building fabric such as, insulation, heating, electricity, gas and drainage. A diagnosis of any defects found is accompanied by advice on major repairs and maintenance required.
Items that can be included in a Building Survey:
- Major and minor defects and their likely cause
- Dampness in the walls
- Alterations to supporting walls
- Renovations made without necessary planning permission
- Presence of hazardous materials, especially asbestos.
- Evidence of subsidence
- Damage to masonry and roof
- Damage to timbers
- Large trees close to the property.
- Woodworm, dry rot and other damage to timbers
- Condition of existing damp proofing and insulation
- Advice on non-tested drainage
- Information on the materials used to build the property
- Further relevant technical information
- Recommendations for further investigations on the property
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makes your project planning as simple and straightforward as possible:
Provide a quote
Site inspection visit
Detailed design stage
Ongoing support until project completion
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In the last decade, Structures Made Easy have successfully completed 3,000 construction projects, and consistently proven to be an industry leader.
Using the latest, state of the art engineering design software and design codes, we ensure your project is completed to your exact specifications, from design cross check procedures to quality control measures.
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Doors and windows
A building survey will include the opening and closing of most of the windows, doors and cupboards. Detection of any cracking, missing keys, damaged timber might reveal bigger problems.
A DIY loft conversion can present problems and there can also be other issues sometimes discovered in a loft, including:
- Incomplete firewalls
- Signs of woodworm or other forms of infestation
- Visible electrical wiring defects
- Cold-water storage tank issue
- Inadequate insulation
- Loft ladder not fitted
Building surveys in London will particularly focus on the construction or a pre-existing basement in a property. This is because London’s underlying geology consists primarily of clay, which is prone to seasonal movement, and can lead to subsidence.
In extreme cases, the foundations of a house can be seriously affected. The specific ground conditions within the vicinity of the property should always be taken into consideration with any works involving a basement area.
Building Survey versus Structural Survey
A building survey is generally a more detailed, forensic inspection of a property involving an intrusive access to the more hard to reach areas.
The property is assessed for defects, and to identify the cause, which could lead to a loss of structural integrity. A full building survey involves issues such as, internal wall fissures, ceiling cracks, damage to beams/joists, and subsidence.
Structural surveys also report on structural defects such as, cracks in walls, damage caused by water or subsidence / movement of foundations etc. An initial report is usually be based on a visual inspection of the particular area of concern.
Building Survey versus HomeBuyer Report
The key difference between a Building Survey and HomeBuyer Report is that the building survey is far more comprehensive, and provides a highly detailed assessment on the condition of a property.
A prospective buyer is strongly recommended to carry out a full building survey on a property:
Built more than 100 years ago
Has undergone a major extension or alteration
Of a much larger build
Intended to undergo future alterations
Of a non-traditional construction
A HomeBuyer Report is generally acceptable for more recently built properties of conventional design, using common building materials and appears to be in a reasonable condition.
A Valuation Report is NOT a Building Survey
A valuation report is often misunderstood to be a type of comprehensive home survey when it’s actually a valuation carried out on behalf of the mortgage lender.
A mortgage valuation is not a building survey report but simply a brief look at a property to assess how much the property is worth, as required by a mortgage lender to ensure the property is sufficient security for the loan.
The intention of valuation is to highlight any serious issues likely to affect the value of the property, NOT supply a real picture of its condition. There could be hidden risks attached to simply relying on the type of information provided by a valuation report.
Why a building survey is the smart home buyers choice
Once the purchase price is agreed, it can be all too easy to want to move in as quickly as possible – without having a building survey carried out first.
Especially, if you are determined to buy the property, and believe, there’s unlikely to be anything seriously wrong with it because the house is modern.
A building survey is optional – but it’s always recommended as the smart choice to make.
Chartered surveyors and civil engineers, alike, advise that a full building survey could help you avoid unwanted and costly repairs, plus, reassurance over minor, superficial and non-risk imperfections.
- One five of house buyers who chose not to have a building survey later uncovered faults, requiring nearly £6,000 on average to rectify.
- Almost one in six new owners paid out more than £12,000 to make their homes habitable.
( Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors – RICS)
Choosing to not have a building survey can prove to be a false saving which could lead to unforeseen but far more costly repairs. In worst case scenarios, the buyer occupies a property they would simply not have purchased if they had been aware of its true condition.
The detailed, impartial information provided by a full building survey can be crucial to help you finally decide whether to purchase a property. Key information relating to any major or minor repair work required can be used to renegotiate the final price. Alternatively, the seller might be asked to fix the issues before the sale is completed.
Carrying out a building survey is strongly advised if:
- You have specific concerns over any part of the property
- You are unsure about the condition of the property
- You are looking to buy an old or unusual property
- The property has a thatched roof or is timber framed
- The building is listed