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Why shrewd home buyers use a Chartered Building Surveyor

I recently got a call from a lady who asked whether my company surveys domestic properties offered for sale. She explained she and her husband had looked at a property which they liked but had nagging concerns about some things they saw during the viewing. Client confidentiality prevents me from giving more detail but suffice to say my survey findings justified her request. I surveyed the property and provided an elemental condition report highlighting building defects and construction issues (with comment on their seriousness or otherwise). The survey and report were completed swiftly and issued ahead of the client’s second viewing of the property.


The client was delighted at the level of detail and clear photographs in the report and was able to take a view on what would be an appropriate offer for the property (given the works she and her husband would be need to address our comments). At last update I heard the seller agreed to a reduced offer and my clients were deciding whether to purchase the property or continue their search elsewhere. Either way their proactive approach means they should not be caught out by issues that were identified in the survey. For my own part I have the satisfaction of a job well done, a satisfied client and payment received on the day the report was issued – good result all round!


Reflecting on the survey I wonder why requests are relatively rare for this sort of thing. It may be due to an incorrect assumption on the part of the many prospective purchasers that the Chartered Residential Surveyor preparing the Home Report will take account of the building’s condition and reflect it in the valuation for the property. I mean no disrespect to Residential Surveying which like any profession contains practitioners usually ranging from ‘not bad’ to ‘excellent’, but also has the odd ‘duffer’ who needs to be avoided at all cost. Building Surveying is no different and members of the public should do their homework and seek references from satisfied clients. Good companies have no problem supplying details of these and firms that can’t should be regarded with suspicion.

Returning to my point, the Residential Surveyor is unlikely to fully appreciate the ‘detailed condition’ of the property for the following reasons:

– His/her background and training is different from that of a Building Surveyor and there is less emphasis on construction detailing, maintenance defects analysis and repairs.

– He/she is on site for a relatively short time an often has a list of visits to carry out during their working day. The purpose of their visit is not to carry out a detailed survey of the building fabric condition.

– In simplistic terms valuation of the property is made with reference to historical sales of similar properties in the area with adjustments for differences between the subject property and the reference properties.

Construction defects and other issues not noted by the Surveyor preparing the Home Report can result in costly repair bills for the home buyer. This makes it advisable (particularly for higher value properties) to have the property inspected by a Chartered Building Surveyor prior to purchase.

Hopefully readers find this posting to be informative and I would be happy to receive any questions or enquiries via our contact us page.

Kevin Sergeant