News from Stephen Hodge
Sep
2011

Surveys Explained

What is a Survey? 

The word survey is a rather loose description used by many people, in a wide variety of trades and
professions and can mean a number of things.
 
At Stephen Hodge Associates Ltd we appreciate this leads to confusion and wish to clarify the purpose of our surveys and the benefits to you.
 
Within the Building Surveying industry we provide different surveys specific to the needs of the client and these could include:
 
• Measured Surveys
• Structural Surveys
• Condition Reports
Homebuyers Reports
 
For the purpose of this post I am going to focus on Structural Surveys, perhaps the best known to homeowners, and often referred to as a Building Survey. I would however encourage you to view our surveying page for further details of the other survey services we can provide or call us for specific advice and/or guidance.


A Building Survey 


A Building Survey is a report based on an examination of each element of a property e.g. chimneystacks, damp proof course and loft space enabling us to identify the defects.
 

A Building Survey has been likened to a Pathologist’s inspection!!! Hopefully the building is dead and not full of living organism’s e.g. dry rot, woodworm, etc. The added difficulty is that the patient insists on keeping all its clothes on, in the form of layers of plaster, lining papers, quilt insulation and other visually obstructive materials.
 
Our responsibility is to diagnose any problems, even if they are not visually evident and with the use of diagnostic equipment and our wide range of professional skills and experience we seek not only to identify the symptoms but the underlying cause. We are then able to provide the best advice to our clients in respect of a remedy and associated costs.
 
We are generally looking for patterns.  Just in the same way as a Doctor may look for patterns of behaviour to aid diagnosis e.g. walking with a stoop or with a limp we are also looking for patterns for instance of cracking, the direction, nature and size, this in turn would help direct our focus onto the cause of the problem.
 
N.B.”The Survey”, often referred to in the buying process, is typically not a survey at all, but rather a mortgage valuation.  Even though it is carried out by the lender for their benefit the client usually pays. Therefore probably the biggest barrier to a client engaging a Chartered Surveyor is the fees, particularly as they possibly feel they have already paid for ' a survey '. 
 

When do I need a Survey?  


• Property selling/buying – before exchange of contracts
• Suspect a problem
• Neighbouring building works
• Changes /concern in property boundaries
• Private rental
• Structural alterations
Commercial Surveys -Taking on a business lease
 
BUYERS BEWARE!! - New houses don't need a survey do they? 
In the words of Bob the Builder – YES THEY DO!
One of the properties that we surveyed in Witney had a missing roof truss.  Another had so many defects that it was eventually repossessed by the developer, and then sold on possibly to another unsuspecting buyer who probably thought “It’s New -I don't need a survey”.'
 

Enormous savings can be achieved. 


In around 95% of cases we save our clients thousands of pounds. Our Building Survey typically costs under £1000 but can save our clients money in the negotiation process, as well as providing peace of mind.
 





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