What is a full structural survey?

It's certainly true that when buying a new home there are plenty of ways you can spend your money. Some things, might be low on your priority list, especially if you are a first time buyer, however, there are some things you simply can't avoid.

Things like your conveyancer’s fees and the mortgage valuation fee are right at the top of course. But whilst a mortgage valuation might be sufficient for a lender when they are determining the value of the property you are buying, it's worth thinking about whether a simple mortgage valuation is enough for you?

Some buyers will decide to obtain an RICS Survey Report which generally covers a rudimentary report on the fabric of the property. This report will usually be enough for most buyers and it’s not unusual for a home buyer to commission a more in depth report from the same valuation surveyor instructed by the lender to provide a valuation. This makes sense and helps to save duplication in work - and fees.

However, if you are buying an older property or if the homebuyer’s report has thrown up some issues that need further investigation, you might want to consider commissioning a full structural survey. Structural surveys may include a commentary on value but they also go into some detail in respect of the building’s structure, internal and external fabric, decor and services.

How much does a structural survey cost?

A structural survey may costs several hundred pounds, perhaps even more, dependent on the size, value and condition of the subject property. Most structural surveys can be undertaken by chartered valuation surveyors but a chartered building surveyor or structural engineer might also work in this field.

Whomever you employ, the survey should be far more intrusive and detailed than a valuation or homebuyer’s report and so it’s worth checking with the seller to make sure carpets can be lifted and loft access is available, if necessary. In some circumstances surveyors might ask to expose brickwork or internal fittings and services and this might involve you in some remediation work afterwards. It's best to clarify this before the surveyor attends the property, especially if you already have an idea of what is required.

After a structural survey the surveyor may recommend further specialist tests and/or work be commissioned, including checks to wiring or a specialist damp course company. The surveyor will be able to check for damp and will almost always be able to identify its source. A specialist contractor will be able to give you a real world estimate as to cost which might be very helpful if you need to renegotiate the agreed purchase price.

Whereas you might expect to pay a couple of hundred pounds for a mortgage valuation on your new home (dependent on its value) a full structural survey may cost you several hundred pounds more. In all cases, make sure you employ a properly qualified surveyor and make sure they hold sufficient professional and public indemnity insurance.

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