What do I get in a Survey?

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Last Updated: 04/12/2014   Tags:

I am often asked ‘what do I get in a survey’ in other words people really want to know what they are getting for their money.  It always seems a lot but generally in terms of the price of the property it amounts to around 1% - 2% of the purchase price.  When buying a property one does not look at it per-se but just makes an emotional decision to buy. The difference with a surveyor is that he looks at the property dispassionately element by element without the emotional baggage.

So how do I approach a survey? In examining a building I look at it element by element following a mental checklist the basis of which is below



No of pots capped?
Bricks good?
Well Pointed?
Flashings – type condition?

Pitched Roofs: 

Ridge line – straight, tiles well bedded?
Hips  - No sag? – tiles well bedded ?
Slopes – No sag? –condition of slate/tiles? – Missing, chipped, delamination
Flashings – type condition?

Flat Roof:

Flashing? - type condition?
Cold or warm?


Gutters Type- wooden, PVCu, Asbestos, Concrete Aluminium
condition- leaks –stains  
Type- condition- leaks –stains, dressed into drain?


Type- construction  Plumb?
Any cracks –reflected internally- ongoing?
Bricks- condition? Rendered? Any hollowness? Well pointed?
DPC – original type? Injected?
Airbricks- sufficient?
Foundations – cellar etc.


Type- wooden, PVCu, Aluminium, Skylight
Double Glazed? Single Glazed?
Any rot to sills?
Well fitted?
Do they open? How well? 


Type- wooden, PVCu, Aluminium, Skylight
Double Glazed? Single Glazed?
Any rot to sills?
Well fitted?
Do they open? How well? 
Other Joinery: 

Type- wooden, PVCu, Asbestos
Facia’s Soffits Other flats?


General condition, paintwork etc.


Roof Void: 

Construction – traditional, Trussed, Steel, MMC
Condition – Rot- woodworm- bowing- shakers Sarking?
 Daylight – Damp penetration,
Insulation – depth
Tanks? – Well supported?
Loft Rooms  - RSJ ? B regs?


Type – Lath and Plaster – Plasterboard- Fibreboard – Asbestos – Solid Condition – level, no sag, cracks- Why?
Covering- Paper, polystyrene tile?


Construction – Solid - Stud – Lath and plaster – Supporting
Plumb?  Even? Hollowness?
Cracks- Why – External?
Coverings – Paper – Tile- Any looseness- grouting


All internal wall for rising and penetration
Lower walls- beneath windows- under flat roofs
Reason – rising, penetrating, condensation.


Breasts intact? – if removed well supported?
Blocked? Vented? Relined? Living gas Fire? Boiler flue –Capped?


Type – Suspended Timber, Solid, Pot and Beam, Cassette,
Condition – level- any bounce/hollowness?  
Covering –condition- Health and safety?
Sound Proofing?


Any Sign- active? Guarantees?


Doors- type, well fitted? flush into frames? Operate ok? Latches? Safety glass?
Stairs – level? firm? banisters firm? Steep? Covering good? (H&S)
Kitchen- Condition- Doors and Drawers ok? worktops, grouting
Fitted wardrobes - Condition- Doors and Drawers ok?
Skirting, architraves, General Condition




Meter- where? - Consumer Unit where?
RCD? MCB? Bonding –Switches and sockets Ok? Properly fitted?


Meter where? What does it service? Any obvious problems- smells? Certificate?

Stopcock – where? Meter?
Type of pipework- leaks? Taps and flushing ok?  Flow Rate? Tanks- Condition 
Bathroom – Condition- adequate?  Leaks?


What Kind, Boiler – Combi? Condensing? Radiators- TRV’s? Leaks- Flue type?
Storage radiators? – Air?  Underfloor?


Type of Pipework, condition-leaks, benchwork, Inspection chambers- blockage- Combined? Shared?


Boundaries Path, Garages- Construction ? Condition? Trees? – Type – influencing?

Looking at the property in this way gives an overall impression. Of course looking is not really enough, you have to know what you are looking at and I have over 20 years experience in residential  property 

The check list is not complete;  The area in which the property is situated matters such as nearby rivers or streams or other detrimental factors are taken into consideration and any matters that would require further investigation by your legal advisers also have a bearing.

The level of inspection does not differ in creating either a Homebuyers Survey or a Building Survey.  The difference comes in the depth of reporting and the advice given.

I hope this gives some idea about what you get for your Homebuyers or Building Survey and the advisability of obtaining one after all it could save you money. Either in the short term by enabling you to renegotiate the purchase price or in the longer term by preparing you for likely repairs.

Further advice can be obtained by contacting Castles Surveyors Ltd on 020 8804 5678 or by Email on enquiries@castles-surveyors.co.uk

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