Kate’s 10 Property Survey Tips for Buyers!

publication date: Aug 27, 2010
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Designs on Property and Author of Which? Property Books
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Kate’s 10 Property Survey Tips for Buyers! 

Buying House Guide - Structural Survey

Thinking of buying a new home? Well don’t! At least not until you have a structural survey to check it’s not about to fall down first! Don’t believe that lenders will sign off a mortgage for a property that has subsidence? Is leaking from top to bottom? Or has a converted loft that isn’t legal? Then watch Sarah Beeny’s latest programme, ‘Help! My House is Falling Down’ and after that, read Kate’s property survey tips for buyers, so you don’t end up on the next series!

Top Tip One: Don’t buy a home without an independent structural survey!
If you knew you were going to give someone £500 who could potentially save you thousands – would you? Of course you would! As soon as your offer is accepted on a property, make sure the next thing you do is have a surveyor (who is a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) check out your home.

Top Tip Two: Don’t buy a new build without a snagging survey!
So you are buying a new build – think there can’t possibly be anything wrong with it? Think again. On average, every NEW BUILD in the UK has approximately 80 defects from dodgy wiring to dirty windows and wonky switches, so make sure you have a snagging survey!

Top Tip Three: What’s your home built on?
You may be buying a property for £50,000 or £50,000,000, but before you fall in love with the property and the fabulous kitchen, check what the property is built on. Some properties are built on top of underground streams, land that has been contaminated, or even old household tips. Urrggh.. It’s actually fine, but only if the proper precautions have been taken. Don’t take any chances, check it out first! (Contact us via email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk or tel 0845 838 1763 for help).

Top Tip Four: Could your home be flooded?
You may be some miles from a river or tiny stream, but it doesn’t mean that within hours your home might not be full of very horrible, yucky water with all sorts of things floating to the top! When the flood has gone, it can take six months or more for your property to stop smelling of the remaining stench. Check out the Environment Agency website for more information.

Top Tip Five: How near is your home to the sea!
Sadly, some of our sea is taking over the land our country is built on. People have bought homes over 30 metres from the sea thinking that they had 30 years to live there and now the sea is eating into their back garden. Even if the sea isn’t eroding the coastline, the salt water from the sea will corrode any metal around your home and mean you have to pay more to maintain the outside of the property more regularly. 

Top Tip Six: Is your home in the middle of a new Motorway?
However idyllic your property’s location is now, it doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way! A good legal company will quickly spot any likely problems, but you should always check what’s happening in the local neighbourhood to see what might impact on you. Some might be good, a new train or tram nearby, some might not be so good, for example a nuclear power station or mobile phone mast. (Contact us via email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk or tel 0845 838 1763 for help).

Top Tip Seven: Lovely or Nightmare Neighbours?
OK, so you might think that this is a bit of a rough question, but who wants neighbours from hell next door? Parties all night or early morning rows aren’t fun to live next to, so find out as much as you can about who you will be living next to.

Top Tip Eight: Is your Home Legal?
A conservatory might look lovely – but has it got the right planning permission or building regulations to make it legal? Has the extension or loft conversion that the property has been properly approved or might the local authority turn up to take it down – at your cost? Some properties that are advertise as ‘two bedrooms’ with one being the loft room are only really one bedroom as the loft conversion hasn’t been approved for living and sleeping in – make sure you legal company checks it out first. 

Top Tip Nine: Is Crime Rising or Falling?
The house might look fine by day, or during the week, but does it become a haven for teenage hang outs on a Friday and Saturday night? Do local youths drive up and down at night at speed? Better to find out before you buy rather than the first weekend you move in!

Top Tip Ten: Did the Previous Owners Pay all their Bills?
I once bought a property only to find that it had been previously tenanted by a chap who had ‘legged’ it to Portugal. He left owing money to the local authority in council tax, a car company and many others. They thought they’d try and get their money back by turning up at all times of day or night. Fortunately for me, I had a very large, one eyed Alsatian that wasn’t very fond of visitors! It didn’t take long for them to all work out that he didn’t live there anymore and that one eyed, large Alsatians are quite scary!    


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  • An A4 ‘how to’ guide (approx 80 pages), containing Dos and Don’ts, Factsheets, Checklists, Handy Tips and Forms
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