Q. I’m selling up and moving out of London as I now have to consider schools for my son. We have just had our offer accepted on a super Victorian house that is full of charm and character and just perfect. However after meeting with our financial advisor to sort out the mortgage application he has offered us a range of surveys and has advised we go for the most expensive one being the full structural or Building survey. Do we really need this or is he just getting us to spend more money unnecessarily?
A. When you’re buying a new house, it’s all too easy to get seduced by the look of the place and ignore what could potentially be a money pit if things are not checked out thoroughly by an expert. A surveyor acts entirely on your behalf – and therefore offers the essential service of impartial advice on your prospective property. The survey then allows you to make an informed decision before committing to the purchase. Given you are buying and old house I would definitely agree with the advice of your financial advisor and go for the building survey, this is the most expensive but is very thorough and not something I suggest you cut corners on. A Building Survey is a comprehensive report providing a full breakdown of the fabric and condition of the property, with diagnosis of defects, and repairs and maintenance advice. Expect to pay around £1,000 for a survey of this kind. This may sound steep but it will be well worth paying if it identifies issues which could cost thousands of pounds to put right if not flagged up now. A full structural survey should provide you with all the information you’ll need to decide whether or not you want to continue proceeding with the purchase or pull out because it has identified problems you hadn’t anticipated. A building survey will typically not include a valuation of the property, the mortgage lender would usually commission the valuation and you’d be free to arrange your own survey. Quite honestly when buying a family home which is already the largest financial commitment you are ever likely to make, trying to save money at this point could be a false economy as well as a disastrous decision if things do go wrong in the house once you move in.