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What defects do building surveyors look for?

Here’s the answer…..

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Introduction

    1. The Role of the Seller
    2. The Role of the Building Surveyor
    3. Planning Issues and Certificates of Compliance

Building Surveys

    1. What is a Building Survey Report

Contents of Check List

  1. Grounds
  2. Outside Sheds / Garages
  3. Septic Tanks / Secondary Treatment Systems
  4. Private Water Wells
  5. Exterior Finishes and Components
  6. Roof Coverings
  7. Attic Space
  8. Structure
  9. Fireplaces
  10. Bathrooms / Ensuites
  11. Kitchen
  12. Utility Room
  13. Livingrooms
  14. Hallway
  15. Kitchen
  16. Bedrooms
  17. Electrical
  18. Heating
  19. Plumbing
  20. Insulation
  21. Notes

Introduction

The purpose of this guide is to assist sellers of properties identify defects that the building surveyor will be looking for when your property is surveyed.

If certain defects can be identified and repaired before the house is placed on the market for sale, it should prevent renegotiation taking place at a very late stage in the sale process, which would likely adversely affect the sale of your property, including the purchase of the home you are looking to buy.

Making the decision to sell your home is a huge step for most homeowners. But once the decision is made to sell, then making your home Marketable should be your number one goal, especially if you want to stand out against all the other homes in the area that are also for sale!

House prices in most parts of the country are continuing to fall. Gone are the days of listing your house and its sells quickly. With the changed market, buyers are increasingly more sensitive to property condition and using building surveyors reports to hammer the vendor down on their price.

By implementing a detailed checklist a seller can decide early on what to do in order to improve the condition of their property. It is important for a seller to know exactly what a Building Surveyor will be looking for when surveying there property. By implementing what is normally a detailed but simple set of tasks the seller will become more educated about the condition of their property including what minor and major issues and potential expenses that will come to light when their property is surveyed.

There are a number of checklists freely available on the internet which will show potential defects in the structure, attic, roof, grounds, walls, floors and services such as heating, electrics and plumbing. These defects if not corrected are potential “deal-breaker” in the sale of any property. By implementing a pre-sale checklist, it will reduce the likelihood of your potential buyer coming back to you trying to reduce the price after their building survey in carried out.

Benefits of the implementing a detailed pre-sale checklist.

Identify defects and make repairs ahead of time. By identifying possible defects early on, the seller is in a position to handle repairs prior to placing their house on the market, making the house more attractive and more saleable. This may mean more money to the seller and a faster sale. Making repairs ahead of time will limit objections over defects during the negotiations. Some defects may be regarded as minor concerns in the eyes of a prospective buyer, but when numerous small defects are added together they can often become deal breakers, especially is a more serious defect comes to light during a building survey.

  • No building surveyor bringing up minor and major issues after the deal is done.
  • Your home could sell faster!
  • Your home could sell for more money!
  • No more buyers walking away because they think there is a problem with the house.
  • No 11th hour renegotiation’s based on the building surveyors report.
  • No more buyers getting cold feet when they find out the home is not perfect.
  • It allows you to resolve any major issues in conjunction with your estate agent and your building surveyor before you put your house on the market.
  • By following a professional checklist it allows you to fix any problems you like or recognise the problem and reflect it in the purchase price – take it off the table as a negotiating tool against you.
  • You have time to get several quotes for those items that you choose not to fix, no more high quotes for carrying out repairs from potential buyers at closing time because they know you’re up against the wall.

A professional checklist should be detailed and broken down into sections covering all the different parts of the property. Checklists would not be exhaustive, but should cover most of the main problems found in properties.

What should Sellers and Buyers should know when organizing a building survey

The type of building survey that the seller / buyer is seeking to have carried out will depend on the age and condition of the property. In many cases the seller or buyer will not know enough about building surveying to be able to give clear and complete instructions at the outset. In these cases the building surveyors first task is to acquaint the client with the nature and extent of the options available and advice as to which is most suitable.

The Role of the Building Surveyor

Surveyors are expected to have the professional skills and experience to carry out surveys. They should also have a good working knowledge of the law in relation to all areas of their profession.

There is no universally accepted scale of fees for surveying. At present when setting fees, surveyors generally take account of a number of factors, including the length of time they expect the work to take, the complexity of the task, having regard to the age, type, size and location of the property.

It is very important that fees and the extent of the survey should be clearly stipulated and agreed between the client and the surveyor at the outset.

Planning Permission Certificates and Certificates of Compliance with Building Codes / Building Regulations.

A Building Surveyor will note any alterations, extensions, attic conversions, sheds, garages and any other structural changes that come to his attention.

The building surveyors concerns cover two particular areas,

  1. Do the alteration / extensions comply with good building practices
  2. Do these changes or extensions require planning permission or certificates of exemption from planning permission.

Far to often sellers leave it to the last minute to obtain these certificates and this will almost certainly delay the sale of a property if non-compliance with planning or regulation issues are noted.

In most cases building regulation issues can be resolved by making certain changes to the building. Issues that relate to planning permission may necessitate contacting the local planning department. If there is a planning permission issue it can take at least three months to sort out. It is advisable not to ignore possible issues in the hope that they won’t be spotted.

Planning permission and building regulation issues concerning changes to all properties are going to be raised when the solicitors exchange final contracts on the property.

Closing your eyes to these questions in the hope that these issues won’t be raised is one of the main reasons that house sales fall through. Also ignoring or waiting to deal with potential planning permission and building regulation issues until the sale is agreed will almost certainly delay the sale of the property for at least three months while planning permission issues are been sorted.

There is no quick fix in dealing with planning permission issues, therefore it is important to make sure that your property is fully complainant with planning permission and building regulations as soon as you decide to put your house on the market. Hopefully if there are any issues, they can be resolves before final contracts are to be signed.

Peter Sweeney Chartered Building Engineer.

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