Article 21- Pre-purchase survey
This article discusses who you should instruct to conduct a pre-purchase survey if this requirement is imposed upon you by your bank or building society. You should also read Articles 4a to 4d inclusive so that you are fully informed of the entire process associated with the building preservation industry
HAS A PRE-PURCHASE DAMP AND TIMBER SURVEY BEEN
REQUESTED BY YOUR BANK OR BUILDING SOCIETY?
SOME HELP AND GUIDANCE
Buying a property, especially for the first time, will inevitably expose you to situations where you will have to make judgements and decisions based on little or no experience and sometimes during this process you may encounter less than scrupulous people who will exploit your vulnerability. This predicament is no different to many other scenarios in life it is just that the amount of money involved and the potential impact upon your life could be considerable if you make a mistake.
A very common situation when buying an older property is that your surveyor or the building society/bank surveyor reports back to you that they located damp in some walls and/or noted some woodworm holes in floor/roof timbers. They, or your mortgage provider, then stipulate in their report that you must ‘arrange for the property to be inspected by a timber and damp specialist’ If you are a first time buyer you probably did not even know such people existed and deep down you are thinking how much extra is this going to cost me?
Virtually every day I receive enquiries from buyers asking me what my fee would be to go and inspect the property they want to buy as their surveyor has found some woodworm and/or damp and have asked for a specialist report. Many of these people think that they have to engage an independent specialist surveyor, such as me, to conduct the survey and then get a contractor to quote for any work I may consider to be necessary. Others want an independent survey because they fear that a contractor will find ‘unnecessary work’. I could easily keep quiet, quote my fee and go and conduct these inspections but I know that most buyers, at this stage, probably do not require my services.
I invariably suggest to this category of enquiry that they should arrange for at least two contracting members of the Property Care Association (PCA) to go and conduct the required survey. I explain that they may have to pay a nominal survey fee (almost certainly less than mine) though I have noticed recently that some contractors are now charging considerable fees, so be careful.
Despite what you may have read or have been told not all contractors are bad. Not only will a contractor enthusiastically find all work that may be necessary but they will also provide you with a quotation to carry out the work, possibly enabling you to re-negotiate the sale price of the property. Many buyers I speak to do not realise that contractors are able to conduct the ‘specialist’ survey required by their building society and others who were sceptical about using a contractor see the logic of using a contractor one once it has been explained.
So do you need an independent surveyor such as me for a pre-purchase survey? The answer is probably not. Be aware that you may be spending money unnecessarily by engaging an independent surveyor who will then probably recommend that you obtain quotes for the work they consider necessary from a contracting member of the Property Care Association who will then have to survey the property once again – perhaps an unnecessary duplication? I also receive enquiries from vendors who want confirmation that all of the work found necessary as a result of surveys commissioned buy their purchasers is actually required but that’s another story!
To conclude: If this is your situation my advice is that you arrange for two or three contractor members of the Property Care Association to do this for you. Armed with these reports and estimates you might withdraw from the purchase or be able to re-negotiate the sale price of the property to allow for the cost of remedial work found necessary. You may connect to the Property Care Association web site by clicking on the PCA logo in the left margin on this site.
You should be aware however that unfortunately there are some contractors out there who purport to be able to provide an independent survey but the bottom line is they are contractors – not an independent surveyor. Some who participate in this underhand practice even charge survey fees that are greater than mine! So be aware of this and ask straight out - ‘are you a contractor?’
Of course if you still want an independent opinion then please give me or one of my colleagues a call.
(Please refer to Informative Articles 4a – 4d inclusive on this website for more guidance on selecting contractors, instructing contractors, dealing with additional work etc.)