The process of buying a new home is usually one of the most exciting yet stressful life experiences. There’s so much to consider before you even start looking at potential homes, and once you’ve found that perfect property, the mountains of paperwork and back-and-forth between solicitors can be overwhelming.
One way you can ease your troubles is to get a trusted surveyor on team, who can provide a knowledgeable opinion and take some of the stress and pressure away for you. A good surveyor will be able to help you spot any possible issues with properties you have your eye on, guiding you on how much you should factor them into any offers you make and when they should be addressed.
There are a number of services that a surveyor can offer, so the first step is making sure you understand exactly what you need – it’s easy to get confused between a property valuation and a survey, for example.
Valuations are typically carried out for the benefit of your mortgage provider. They won’t tell you anything about the condition of the property, and are really only to confirm to your lender that the property is worth what you’re asking to borrow for it. On occasion the valuation survey will suggest the house is worth less, so you may find your mortgage offer is affected. However, most mortgage providers insist that you have one of these surveys conducted.
A survey, such as a Condition Report, Home Buyer Service or Building Survey, will tell you useful information about the home you’re buying. It will provide a review of the structural integrity of the building, including visible defects, how severe they are, and what steps should be taken to remedy them. This can help you decide whether to proceed with the purchase, and if so, roughly how much money should potentially be deducted from the asking price.
So, armed with some knowledge of the kind of services available, how do you choose a surveying firm to assist you?
1. Look Locally
A flashy firm from London might look slick and professional, but that’s not a guarantee of quality. It’s far more reliable to choose a firm that is familiar with the local land and properties, with an existing understanding of common problems. Simply put, if you’re buying in Stafford, use surveyors in Stafford. If you’re looking at properties in Kent, speak to a local Kent firm.
Local awareness could include knowing which homes are most likely to be affected by faults with building materials, subsidence issues or frequent flood routes, which even the best firm won’t know if they’re from further afield.
2. Established Experience
Firstly, look for a surveyor that is qualified by RICS – the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. This will determine that their performance is of an international standard, and give you confidence in any reports you receive.
It’s also wise to find a surveyor who has personal experience in dealing with the type of building you’re buying. While this isn’t vital (a qualified surveyor can work with any kind of property), it will mean they can look for issues that are typical with the particular style, age and features of your property with confidence and expertise.
3. Recommended from a Friend
There’s a good reason that word of mouth is the most trusted form of advertising. If you know friends, family or neighbours that have moved recently, ask them to recommend a surveyor. They will be able to give you a good picture of firms they contacted, and why they chose the surveyors they did (and perhaps why to avoid the others). Any signs that a surveyor went the extra mile, was able to meet particular deadlines and had a good rapport with their customers is usually an excellent indicator of quality.
Simply finding a reputable firm is a good way to start looking for a surveyor, but remember this is possibly the house of your dreams, so it’s worth taking the time to find the best fit. You never know, they might end up being your trusted advisor later down the line with renovation surveys, boundary disputes or when you move to your next home!