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Property Surveying Blog

Written by Karim El Shenawi-Ali

Since the start of the new year, I have noticed a real uplift in Building Survey requests by potential buyers of properties or clients looking to understand the full extent of their properties structure. I will aim to provide a better understanding of what a Building Survey is, what it consists of and why it is so important for a prospective buyer.

What is a Building Survey?

Previously named a Full Structural Survey, a Building Survey is a detailed and thorough inspection of a building, whether it be a commercial or residential structure. A Building Survey will simply provide detailed information on every element of the building structure i.e. roof, walls, chimney stack, and many more. Most importantly, a Building Survey can only ever be conducted by an AssocRICS or MRICS Chartered Surveyor, I therefore stress that you confirm if your Surveyor is RICS regulated, as RICS surveyors follow strict guidance on Building Surveys and hold the relevant training for such report.

Typically, a Building Survey is undertaken for the following types of properties:

  • Listed Buildings
  • Properties older than 50 years.
  • Unusual or unique buildings
  • Buildings that you intend on doing works to.

New build properties or properties built in the like 50 years, typically wouldn’t be suffering from any significant defects, therefore I would suggest obtaining a HomeBuyers Report, which would be more ideal in that case.

What is included in a Building Survey?

The Building Surveys will naturally cover every element of the buildings structure. These elements would include:

  • Chimney Stack
  • Roof Covering
  • Rainwater and Drainage
  • External Walls
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Floors
  • External joinery
  • Internal Roof Structure
  • Ceilings
  • Internal Walls
  • Services (Electrical, Drainage, Gas, Water)

In order to properly convey the information obtained from reviewing the above elements, Surveyors would typically structure the report in a very specific way.

First, we would identify the elements and the materials that the particular element is made up of. For example, I would identify a chimney stack, then describing it as made up of solid brickwork construction, which is the conventional construction of a chimney stack.

We would then, identify any particular defects that have been noted on the chimney stack i.e. cracks, undulation, weathering or moss growth.

We would then provide our reasoning behind the defect, which is where a trained Surveyor who is experienced and qualified, really portrays their skills. Naturally a Surveyor could say, the above defects may have been caused by continuous exposure to weathering, without any maintenance or in reference to the undulation, this could be a result of a lack support provided to the remaining chimney stack when the below chimney breasts have been removed.

We would then provide a recommendation to repair such issues, for example, in regard to the leaning chimney stack, we would recommend instructing a structural engineer to review the defect in more depth and provide definitive repair options.

Finally, we would then provide a range of possible costings for the proposed repairs, which will ultimately provide the client with a clear understanding of the issue, the cause, repair options and the costs, which ultimately is exactly what a proposed buyer would need.

Why is it Important?

For any home buyer, the most important thing, is knowing exactly what you are investing in, this is a common thought process with any type of investment. A Building Survey will grant any buyer with the comfort of knowing the exact condition of the building they are purchasing, the causes of those issues, the repair options and most importantly, how much will it cost them if they were to move forward with the purchase.

If you are looking to purchase a property, that is ages, or may be unique, feel free to get in touch and I will be more than happy to help you through the process.