Picking a surveyor

About surveys and picking a surveyor.

If you want to have a survey done on a house then you can ring round and get several quotes. Ask about the different types of surveys and see how helpful they are at answering your questions. Tell them about the property and see whether they recommend a specific type of survey.

You can ask local estate agents for recommendations of surveyors, or pick from the yellow pages. As long as you get several quotes you should have a good idea of the prices and costs.

Some surveyors are happy to discuss their findings with you over the phone if you have any questions when you receive the completed survey.

Often a survey will recommend further inspection by specialists. This can cover damp and timber experts, electrical surveyors, heating engineers, structural engineers, drainage experts or other experts. After reading a few you’d get a feel for the sort of things that will be mentioned in surveys – generally they like to cover their own backs and get you to take more detailed advice on almost everything!

If they suspect asbestos then they will recommend you get a specialist in to look at it. If it’s undisturbed then it doesn’t really need looking at, and the only way to test for asbestos is to disturb it and remove a sample.

Don’t confuse a survey with the mortgage provider’s valuation.

The homebuyers’ survey costs under £400 and covers most basic things. This is suitable for properties that aren’t too old or quirky.

A full structural survey is much more detailed but costs more.

You can ask your surveyor if you can come with him when he does the survey. Some may refuse, but if you do go along you’ll be able to ask specific questions about particular things. If you can’t go, then ask him to look at anything that’s concerning you such as extensions, or the attic.

If the survey comes back full of scary stuff then ask the surveyor about it. To get quotes for work ask several reputable builders or specialists to visit and give the quotes to you. You can negotiate with the buyer about them doing the work before you move in, or ask for a price reduction when buying it.

If the owners refuse to reduce the price, then you have to weigh up whether you want to take the loss of paying them their full asking price for the property as well as doing the remedial work and having the hassle of living on a building site. Sometimes it’s best to walk away having only wasted your survey costs.

A surveyor might give you useful information about the house and you can ask them about any aspects. Some will also have an idea about extensions, so if you’re buying a property with a view to extending it in the future they may give you advice about that.

Pick the survey that not only offers you a good price but is approachable and helpful.

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