Should we get a full buildings survey?

Q: I’m just in the process of buying. I’ll be getting a copy of the mortgage valuation report. My husband thinks we should get a full buildings survey done given this is the biggest investment we've ever made. I’m worried though that they will find something wrong (it’s an old building) and it will affect the mortgage valuation report. Advice please!


I gather you are buying an old building and your husband thinks you should get a full building survey done. My advice is that you should. As a surveyor who undertakes such surveys, I can say that in respect of old buildings, most frequently I find notable defects, which were not apparent to the purchaser and which enable them to proceed fully informed. They would otherwise have bought a home upon which they then have to spend significant amounts of money, for which they had not budgeted.

A mortgage valuation report, might note the most obvious deficiencies which would then influence the value arrived at or conditions imposed but the valuer will not be inspecting at much more than a cursory level and accordingly, is only likely to be aware of the sort of defects that  would be reasonably apparent to a layman. Accordingly with an old building it would be extremely unwise to rely upon that valuation report as a building survey.

It is possible to also instruct the valuation surveyor to do a building survey, and of course, if he does, it might be expected that anything significant that comes to his attention as a result of it, would be likely to influence his report on value. If this is of concern, the obvious answer is to instruct a separate independent surveyor to report to you alone.

Andrew McWhirter, McWhirter Associates Chartered Surveyors

For detailed advice on whether you need a survey and what type of survey is most appropriate see our guide What Survey Should I Have?


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