It’s very sensible to get a house survey for any property you’re planning to buy. Asking a professional to look into the structure to identify any existing/potential problems means there should be no nasty surprises post completion, and you can take appropriate action at pre-contract stage to protect your position in the transaction.
What do you do if you get bad news from a house survey? What if there’s a serious structural defect or something that might need attention in the future? See it as a good thing! It’s much better to find out before you have legally committed: after all, that’s the very reason to get a building survey in the first place.
Here are your options if a survey comes back with recommended action points:
What information will I get from a house survey?
The information included will vary depending on what kind of survey you choose. However, you will receive a report detailing the condition of the property including recommended ‘Action Items’. Level 1 and 2 reports include condition ratings. These will tell you whether each element is normal; is an area of concern; or needs urgent attention.
Some common problems include:
|Damp||Damp is a reasonably common issue particularly in older properties. However, if it’s not dealt with effectively it can cause serious problems, from health concerns to severe structural damage.
|Damage to structural timber||It goes without saying that structural timber is extremely important and any reported damage/weakness should be taken seriously. It can be caused by decay, overloading, poor design or past alterations.
|Japanese knotweed||Perhaps not something you’d immediately think of, Japanese knotweed can be very bad news for properties. This plant can grow up to 10cm per day, damaging structures by growing through weak points and cracks. It’s certainly worth knowing if the property you’re buying has got Japanese knotweed on site as the costs in treating this invasive species can be high, and can take several years.
|Subsidence||Known as subsidence, adverse ground movement can cause major structural problems to a property and require extensive works to repair.
|Electrical issues/old wiring||It may not be immediately obvious if a house has got electrical issues or old wiring that needs replacing. It’s usually straightforward to fix, but if it’s undetected and ignored, the consequences could be severe and even life-threatening.
What to do if you get unwelcome news
If your homebuyers report or other survey comes back with problems, don’t panic! It’s actually a good thing to find out at this stage rather than after you’ve received the keys. There are four main options if you get a bad house survey report:
- Proceed armed with new knowledge
You could simply absorb the information and proceed as you were. However, you are likely to have expenses you weren’t initially expecting. You are in a good position to choose one of the other options…
- Pull out of the sale
If the survey reveals extensive problems and you don’t want to take on the property in light of what you’ve discovered, it’s not too late to pull out of the sale. It can be extremely disappointing, but this is exactly why people get a building survey: to have all the facts in order to make a fully reasoned, informed decision.
- Ask the seller to resolve the problem
You can see if the seller will sort out the problem and contractually agree the conditions under which they will do so. This saves you hassle and means you get the property in the condition you wanted.
- Negotiate on the house price
You could find out how much it would cost to resolve the problem(s) and ask the seller to take that off the price of the house. It is then your responsibility to sort out any issues, but providing you follow the surveyor’s advice in respect of further investigation and conclude enquiries/quotations before you exchange contracts, your financial position should be protected in the transaction.
Get in touch
You may dread the results of your survey report, but it really is better to be forewarned! And, as you can see, it doesn’t necessarily have to derail your purchase. There are several options open to you.
If you’d like to arrange a pre-purchase survey report, get in touch. Our knowledgeable team will be happy to help and answer any questions you may have.
We look forward to helping you through your purchase process.