When spending a lot of time, money and effort in buying a property you would think most people will make sure that all the bases are covered. After all, getting things wrong can cost a small fortune.
It’s all the more surprising with the amount of investment involved that many property buyers ignore the task of carrying out a full structural survey and largely trust to chance that the building they are purchasing is in sound condition. They either think that it is a waste of capital that can be better spent elsewhere, or depend on third parties who have vested interests elsewhere.
However you own a property, freehold or leasehold, you have a vested interested in ensuring that the building is fit for purpose and that nothing is going to go wrong in the future. That not only means the structural integrity of the building but also the land on which it has been built. A recent statistic shows that as many as 4% of buildings in the UK are built on what has been termed contaminated land – properties that have been built on former industrial sites or even old landfill.
The reasons for not carrying out a full structural survey of a property yourself are based on spurious reasoning at best and, whilst it might involve an additional cost, can certainly prevent issues further down the line when there is less legal recourse to getting your money back.
Your lender or mortgage provider will carry out a valuation, but this is often just to ensure that the property can easily be sold on should there be a problem with your finances and you are unable to meet the terms of the agreement. These surveys are often actually carried out without anyone even attending the property to have a look around. The problem is that many home buyers think that these kinds of surveys are carried out for the benefit of both the buyer and the seller and are a full and frank investigation of any potential problems. This is simply not the case.
You might also think that your solicitor will have a handle on things. Unfortunately they are focussed on legal aspects such as the deeds to the land and whether there are any building regulations that you need to be aware of for the property. They are not there to carry out a full structural survey and they are not qualified to do so anyway.
If you are thinking of not employing someone to carry out a structural survey as a cost saving measure then it would be prudent to think again. If, further down the line, there is some structural issue that has gone unnoticed it will probably cost you a lot of money, either in repairs or in the loss of profit/revenue if you then decide to sell on the property.
A full structural survey could save you thousands in repair or renovation bills and even prevent you from being saddled with a property that is too difficult to sell. In the end, it pays to spend a little bit more and have peace of mind rather than depend on the advice of a third party who may or may not have your best interests at heart.