Survey needed on new house ???


Hi folks.
I'm buying a terraced 2-bed new house, which should be completed by mid-December, and all appears to be going to plan - the roof is being done now. The builder appears to be reputable and it's all looking ok.
Do I need an independent survey, or not? If so, can anyone give me an idea of how much this will cost, and how I go about finding a surveyor who won't rip me off? What, exactly, needs surveying in a new build?
I don't have a great deal of money available, so if I could dispense with this, it would be good, but I don't want to miss out on something which might save me grief in the future - or something which could be put right before completion.
Any helpful comments gratefully received!
Thnx, Barb
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Barb wrote:

You shouldn't really need one as it should have an NHBC guarantee which should require certain standards. But talk to your mortgage broker, and see what they say.
Andy
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NHBC isn't worth the paper it's written on (to quote my solicitor). A house is probably the biggest investment you'll make. I had a full survey done on a 10 year old house, although most people don't. Mine wasn't NHBC but an insurance scheme which lasted until it was 15 years old (which I'd never heard of, but is apparently better than NHBC). In recent years, many new houses have been appallingly badly built. A full structural survey on a newish house was a few hundred quid 9 years ago, IIRC.
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I fully agree that the NHBC guarantee is worthless.
I am uncertain though whether a full structural survey will be of benefit on a newly completed house. Provided that it has actually been built to the plans <cough>, there will be very little for a surveyor to spot and even fundamental structural problems wont show for months to years following the build so they survey fee may be wasted money.
Even if problems show later the surveyor will happily state that they weren't there at the time of the survey so there will be no liability on them.
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fred wrote:

Whilst I agree that you should deffo get a survey done, the NHBC aren't entirely worthless. We had the roof fixed on our 8 year old house this year under the NHBC warrantee and the inspector couldn't have been more helpful.
We didn't have a survey done when we purchased the house a couple of years ago and wish we had've done. Spend a few hundred quid now could save you a lot of grief and 1000's in the future potentially.
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The house will have a guarantee whether by NHBC, Zurich, Premier, or a similar insurer. They issue cover either based on their own periodic site visits during the build, or they will rely on an Architects certification. The guarantee will be for 10years or so which is fine and in that time any problems, if there are any, should surface. You can't rely on site inspections by Building Control or anybody else as being 'quality control', the build quality of the house will rest more with whether it was put up by a concientious builder. If they have built similar houses nearby which have been occupied for a while then see what the owners say about them. I agree that a structural survey now is probably pointless, so as long as you check the guarantee wording then you should be fine. I guess that movement in the foundations would be the worse case, so check out what type of foundations were put in and what the excavated ground conditions were like. Building Control should be able to tell you this. It would also be worth talking to the builder and also looking at the build regs/construction plans which again will be held by your building control service (LA or private) AJ
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On Fri, 25 Sep 2009 18:34:04 +0100, a certain chimpanzee, "Barb"

Don't rely on the warranty. A NHBC one, for instance, only covers major (and I mean, major) structural problems between 3-10 years. Before that, it only applies if the company goes bankrupt or as a dispute resolution arbiter. Bearing in mind, too, the NHBC is owned by the major housebuilders, so they're hardly independent.
The same applies to their building control. Check who's the Building Control body. If it's the local authority, then they are more likely to pick up any non-compliant work. If it's being inspected by the NHBC (not just the warranty), then they are owned by the major housebuilders, and won't want to upset their paymasters. Ask to speak directly to the building control surveyor, whether public or private sector. If the builders don't want you to, you'd have to wonder why. The BCS might not be able to tell you directly whether there are any major problems, but they can often give you a feel if you read between the lines; like a job reference, if they can't say anything good, they can't say anything.
When you buy, make sure it has been completed satisfactorily by the Building Control body. I've seen innumerable properties bought without the buyers checking that it complies with Building Regulations. It usually only comes to light when that owner tries to sell it. Most solicitors or conveyancers can't tell the difference between the Building Regulations completion certificate and the warranty.
Having said that, Building Regulations only cover health, safety and welfare, and aren't a guide to quality. For instance, a kitchen requires a working sink and an extract fan. It won't matter that the cabinets aren't level, or that drawers won't open.
If I were you, I would have it looked at now by an independent building surveyor, before things are plastered over. Use one from RICS or ABE. What they should be looking for at this stage is making sure the cavities are free from mortar 'snots', the walls have adequate wallties and the insulation in the cavity is correctly placed, the party walls are correctly built (with no open joints in the blockwork), the floor joists and the roof trusses are correctly installed, etc. I don't know how much one would charge, but it shouldn't be more than a couple of hours worth of work. You should also arrange another few visits over the next few months, at first fix, and second fix, and maybe on completion.
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It depends on what you mean by a survey. If you are going to get a mortgage the lender will undoubtedly want a survey, but really these surveys are just valuations and a quick look to see that the building does exist. There is no guarantee that everything is OK, though.
Rob Graham
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