In the current economic climate it is perhaps not surprising to find that more people are bypassing building surveys in a bid to save money. These are difficult times, agrees the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), but it also warns people that not having a survey done before they commit their hard-earned money to a property purchase is a short-term saving that could result in far higher costs over the longer term.
Already, one in six homebuyers are currently paying over £12,000 just to make their new home fit to move in to. Defined as such, these costs do not include decoration work or any other form of non-essential structural and technical work, but focus entirely on making the newly bought property liveable. In many cases, of course, the sums spent on necessary repairs can escalate to well beyond the benchmark figure mentioned above, while serious structural renovations can run into six-figure sums for which there is no insurance coverage.
This is the essence of the warning currently being given out by RICS. As they see it, the current economic climate makes it even more imperative not to launch yourself into a large and important transaction you will be repaying for many years to come without the security of knowing exactly what you’re buying and what additional costs may be hanging over you. While not all structural defects show themselves at the time of moving in, most are eventually revealed over the course of years, leaving many a homebuyer to wonder what they have got themselves into.
Giving a home a once-over with a keen amateur eye or bringing a handy uncle along is no alternative for a professionally conducted survey. Just as some apparently fatal cracks and tears can actually be resolved quite easily, so there are a great many potential problems hidden to the naked eye. What’s more, a large percentage of homebuyers in the UK will be buying properties ranging from existing to old, but even relatively new or recently completed houses can have defects, and if you’re buying direct from a developer you’re in a much stronger position to demand recourse if you’ve informed yourself beforehand and have a professional survey indicating the exact state of the property.
The situation is no different in Spain, where building standards are either not always as high as in Northern Europe or occasionally not as strictly controlled. Most properties are fine, but factors such as the weather conditions, gradients and absentee owners can put extra pressures on the health of homes that are sometimes left untended for months at a time. Under such conditions it is important to look for damp, inspect pipes and wiring, and ensure that the property can both be moved in to immediately and does not show signs of impending problems further down the line.
Besides giving you peace of mind and indicating that your property is both safe and won’t begin to cost you more money than you believed it would, the benefit of a survey is that it can greatly enhance your bargaining position with the vendor. In a bad case you will want to walk away from the house, relieved that you found out about its defects before you committed yourself to buying it, but in other situations the issues may not be serious enough to put you off the purchase but big enough to illicit a reduction in the buying price. Also remember that if you get stuck with a house that harbours problems this will affect its value and your ability to sell on too, so don’t make do with a long-distance valuation that serves a completely different purpose – get a RICS qualified chartered surveyor to inspect your intended new home and make sure it is everything you hope it to be.
Survey Spain, Chartered Surveyors: Ethically and professionally governed by RICS in London, 12 qualified and experienced English and Spanish speaking, independent surveyors work with integrity only for you. No conflicting loyalty to banks, developers, contractors, owners, estate agents, lawyers or town halls! All Reports and Valuations are reviewed by a second surveyor.