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What's included in a building survey?

By Maurice Shasha  //  Thu 26th July 2018
A building survey involves an extensive inspection of a property and is the best type of survey for listed buildings and older properties. This article explains what's included in a building survey.
Building surveys are particularly appropriate for listed buildings, older buildings, or when renovat
If you've put in an offer on a property and that offer has been accepted by the seller, one of the things you should do is arrange a survey of the building. You might be tempted to bypass this to save money, but our advice is always to invest in a survey, irrespective of whether you're planning to buy a shiny new-build apartment or an old townhouse with visible defects.

For anyone looking to purchase a listed property or an older property, a building survey is advised. If you're not quite sure what a building survey is or what it involves, all will be revealed in this article.

What is a building survey?
A building survey is the most detailed survey available to property buyers. It is carried out by a RICS Building Surveyor and offers a complete evaluation of a property and its condition. A building survey offers property buyers and investors substantial insight, allowing them to make a more informed decision about purchasing the property.

What does a building survey involve? 
A building survey can take up to a day to complete, though surveying a large or complex building may take longer. The surveyor will examine thoroughly the interior and exterior of the property, and this will include any outbuildings, adjoining buildings, boundary walls, and fencing. Only a visual examination will take place inside the property, however. This means that nothing will be moved or lifted from its place. The roof structure via the loft space will also be examined if it can be safely accessed, as will floor and underfloor surfaces. Photographs will be taken where necessary and these will be included in the report with accompanying descriptions.

What does a building survey pick up on?
  • A building survey will pick up on and identify the following: 
  • The building's current condition 
  • Any signs of deterioration or structural defects 
  • Any issues which require speedy attention 
  • Any issues which may present problems or become problematic in the future. 

A building survey, as well as identifying past, existing and potential future problems, will also include recommendations as to how to conserve and maintain the property, and this is especially relevant for older buildings. The survey will also include an estimation of the cost of carrying out any remedial works.

It's important to note that a building survey doesn't follow a standard structure, it is tailored to the needs of the person who has commissioned the survey. For example, if you're buying a property and you plan to convert the loft area, you can ask the surveyor to pay close attention to the loft space and roof structure and provide full details in the survey.

When is a building survey the best option?

A building survey is appropriate for many types of properties, but is most appropriate for:
  • Listed buildings 
  • Buildings which are more than 50 years' old 
  • Buildings with unique design features or complex layouts 
  • Buildings which require renovation or where the buyer has plans to renovate 
  • Larger buildings 
  • Buildings which display defects and signs of deterioration 
  • Buildings which have been altered or modified over the years. 

If you are planning to buy a property in central London which fits the above criteria, we recommend arranging for a building survey to be carried out prior to exchange of contracts.

If you want to know more about the other house surveys available, check out our blog article on house surveys.

Alternatively, if you're looking to buy property in Knightsbridge, Paddington, Marble Arch, Bayswater and the surrounding central London areas, get in touch today.

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