Independent Chartered Building and Property Surveyors

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Homebuyer Survey Checklist

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  • 14-02-2019
Homebuyer Survey Checklist

When buying a house, it's essential to commission a suitable property survey to help you understand the condition of the property before committing to the purchase. A number of factors that will determine the survey you will choose, including the size and age of the property, the building style and how thorough you want the surveyor to check the house before buying. 

Valuation or Survey?

A valuation is very different from a survey, though they are often used interchangeably. If the property you are trying to buy has a mortgage, the mortgage company you are working with will conduct a basic valuation of the house to determine if it’s worth the money you are planning to pay, or you are paying. 

After the mortgage company finishes the valuation, you will be handed a detailed mortgage valuation explaining everything you need to know. However, you should know that the mortgage valuation does not contain possible flaws that the house might have because it is not a survey. Therefore, it is up to the potential homeowner to hire a competent surveyor to do a thorough inspection of the house to determine whether or not to buy the house.

family moving into new property

Preparing your home for a valuation

Since the chartered surveyor will have to look inside the property, you can prepare in advance to speed up the process and have minimal disruptions. Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Take plant off the window sills
  • Move the furniture away from the exterior walls
  • Tidy and clean the property
  • Clear or remove items from areas that have common problem
  • If you have enough time and resources, you can start packing and arranging your belongings to give the surveyor time to look at what they want to
  • Surveyors usually know the places to look and how to do it. To avoid inconveniences, you can move heavy items to areas that don’t need a lot of surveying. 

In case you are worried the surveyor will have a bad report, you can repair any minor defects. Some of the things you can do include:

  • Scrubbing mould off your bathroom tiles
  • Fixing dripping taps by replacing them or replacing the washers
  • Filing any hairline decorative cracking
  • Repairing broken wood

What won’t the surveyor check?

The surveyor should inspect and try to gather as much information as possible during the house survey. However, some things or conditions may deter the surveyor from accessing all the parts that should be inspected. Some of these things are:

  • Missing keys to some windows or doors
  • Drain covers that are too heavy to lift
  • Heavy furniture that’s blocking areas that should be inspected
  • Fitted floor coverings
  • Loft hatches and doors that cannot open easily or that do not open at all
  • Limited access to the loft or loft insulation that’s hindering the view
  • Inability to access garages, gardens and other outbuildings

surveyor discussing over drawing plans

If the surveyor was unable to complete a full survey due to limited access, you could ask the owner of the home to offer needed help to the surveyor after a day or two to have a full report. Alternatively, the surveyor can ask the homeowner to move some items to allow easy access and inspection. If you are the homeowner and you’ve made some repairs, you should not overestimate the cost of your home to avoid scaring the buyer away.