Home Buyers Report v Full Structural

I noticed a house for sale which might be about 80 years old (I'm guessing here).
There doesn't appear to be anyhting obviously wrong with though it does need modernised and re-decorated.
Would either a "home buyers report" or a "full structural survey" tell me anything more about the house than the lenders survey will?
I rang a surveyors association and they contacted a surveyor in my area who apparently said that houses in that street (where the house is located) would not require a full structural survey.
I was just wondering if anyone had any opinions about these different surveys?
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snipped-for-privacy@postmaster.co.uk (SuzySue) writes:

Home buyers report = Yes, there is a house at that address.
Lenders survey = Surveyor slows below 30mph as he drives past.
Structural survey = Surveyor looks in loft, then disclaims any responsibility for anything whatsoever he fails to find.
That being said, I always have a full structural survey on houses I buy. The cost is irrelevant compared to the cost of the house.
--
"The road to Paradise is through Intercourse."
[email me at huge [at] huge [dot] org [dot] uk]
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Actually, I went for the home buyer's report for my house (1909 terrace). I was very impressed by it, really. It consisted of many, many pages, and about 30 photographs illustrating the issues found and any settlement cracks, evidence of DPC injection etc. He had obviously crawled around the loft spaces, examined the brickwork whenever visible, looked for missing lintels and settlement, and thoroughly disparaged the kitchen. We managed to knock off 5 grand with it.
For my previous house (1986, in an area not known for subsidence) I went for the standard valuation. It had about one page, detailing that it was made of brick and tile and hadn't collapsed.
Christian.
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responsibility for anything whatsoever he fails to find. That being said, I always have a full structural survey on houses I buy. The cost is irrelevant compared to the cost of the house.<
iirc a tv consumer program warned that even full structural survey does not guarantee that if any problems arise after buying house that you can recoup any loses against whoever surveyed house for you?
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Did I not say that?
--
"The road to Paradise is through Intercourse."
[email me at huge [at] huge [dot] org [dot] uk]
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<SNIP>?

Here are a few classics from a survey on our present house.
"It has off road parking but the curb needs to be lowered" The curb has been lowered since the before the garage was removed in the 70's
"The porch is of stone and Tile" Yes its stone With castilations and a Lead lining"
"The walls and floors arnt straight" Its 250 years old in parts and the walls vary between 600mm and 300mm thick depending on rooms
" The walls dont have a cavity" They hadent perfected the cavity wall back then.
"Its of standard construction" Its dug into a hill with only a front side and 1M back wall.
So as you can see it al depends on the surveyer . Personally get one who knows the area.
Ian

responsibility
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And who knows the type of house. Our home is a "vernacular" Georgian building built right at the begining of the period. It was built by local builders ho appear to have been given a pattern book and told "build something that looks like this". So they build a traditional 17thC half-timbered house then built a brick skin to make it look like a Georgian town house.
A nightmare as far as modern surveyors go, so we contacted SPAB and got surveyor with experience of this type of house. End result a through and competent survey that gave us a list of the real problems with the house and that specifically said "under no account should a lender insist on the injection of a chemical DPC because it will cause more problems than it will solve" and similar caveats. He also suggested a number of builders able to cope with the work at reasonable prices.
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On 4 Dec 2003 17:22:38 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@ukmisc.org.uk (Huge) wrote:

I had a bag of allsorts on this house with a full structural survey. The surveyor did crawl around the entire loft-space and went into the sub-floor under the kitchen which is an incredibly tight squeeze. (I inferred this from the comments he made about inspecting some old damp which I think would have been difficult to manage at 12' range with a torch.) Then he added the usual disclaimers about getting in anyone who knew anything about everything by way of drains, water, electricity, gas, damp, roofs, cavity walls, etc, and failed to spot the cold water mains flowrate was about 1 bucket/hour.
Still, the house *is* made of brick and tile and hasn't yet fallen down.

True. Lost in the noise, really. Especially in the SE with stamp duty at the penal rates old Prudence thinks fit to encourage mobility. (What's all that about anyway, move house from one property to another of equivalent value, cough up clerical costs at land registry mysteriously dependent on value of houses, then pay a swinging *tax*. Tax on what, gain, income, loss ???)
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On Thu, 04 Dec 2003 17:22:38 +0000, Huge wrote:

As the son of a surveyor I tend to agree. The full structural survey might highlight an expensive problem. There is time to get one and a time to save a few hundred quid.
They are not likely to tell you anything useful at all if you are buying a flat in a medium or large sized block.
With small conversion flats it is far far more important to look at the legal framework of the way to building is (or isn't!) being maintained, and the last few years accounts.
For a freeholder the advantages are that the surveyor is neutral and the vendor may be more helpful in allowing access than they would to a prospective buyer. They can flag up potential problems which a busy buyer might not spot. It all comes down to your time v your money and your level of skill/knowledge/experience.
The surveyor would have to be seriously negligent for you to claim against them. Once again it comes down to time+hassle v money+pride.
HTH
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Ed Sirett - Property maintainer and registered gas fitter.
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On 4 Dec 2003 09:15:52 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@postmaster.co.uk (SuzySue) wrote:

I think the home buyers report is an excuse to print money, I didn't bother having one on my last purchase, unless you walk around a house with your eyes shut it is unlikely to highlight anything you wouldn't have seen or considered
With a property of that age the report will probably say :-
signs of rising damp (damp meter always reads > 0 somewhere), recommend full damp survey
signs of wood rot, recommend a full rot survey by another company
signs of wood worm, recommend a full survey by another company
electrics may not be to current regs, recommend a full electrical survey by another company
drains (if they run across your property), recommend a full CCTV survey by another company
roof insulation probably not up to current regs but couldnt get in loft (for whatever reason)
My last one said the Lathe and Plaster ceilings could give way at any time because they were over 80 years old
My issue is that they don't lift any carpets or give anything a proper poke, they inspect the roof from ground level and in their report they just say lots of maybes, perhaps I have been unlucky
Oh and don't forget the fascination with the skirting boards, which in one of my reports they were "basic but fit for purpose"
Chris
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(SuzySue)

OK - hands up - I'm a Surveyor and I agree there are incompetent ones about - I have to judge them sometimes. But you can do a lot to avoid getting a poor report if you know the ropes. I hope this is helpful:
1 Make sure you employ a Chartered *Building* Surveyor, not just a Chartered Surveyor. This may be a bit unkind, but generally you don't want a Valuer or Estate Agent doing your report, which is very common. Check with the firm you appoint that the inspecting Surveyor is a Chartered Building Surveyor.
2 All Chartered Surveyors are required to hold Professional Indemnity insurance to reimburse damages suffered as a result of any proven negligence by the policyholder or his employees. It is the PI insurers who require Surveyors to include disclaimer clauses in survey reports. This is broadly similar to not admitting liability for road accidents under car insurance.
3 Surveyors can't be expected to move loft-loads of junk. Neither can they cause any damage to someone's house or contents without their permission. Fitted carpets usually fall into this bracket. If the client specifically wants the Surveyor to look under floorboards then he should be prepared to pay for refitting the carpet. In my view the surveyor should really be experienced enough to predict the likelihood of any under-floor defects without inspecting, and give an appropriate warning.
4 The Home Buyers/Flat Buyers Report was introduced to provide a cheaper alternative to the "Full Structural Survey" where this is inappropriate. This applies only to small, fairly modern property. It is intended to be just a report on the condition, and will not give extensive advice or go into serious defects in any great depth.
5 OTOH, you should expect a good "Full Structural Survey" to report all defects (other than cosmetic damage), advise on the remedial work necessary, including priority and likely cost, and explain what will happen if no remedial work is undertaken. This is the main difference between the two types of report.
6 Surveyors don't have X-Ray eyes, but they should be experienced enough to have a "feel" for the condition of any building and to give advice on the likelihood and extent of any hidden defects. They should be able to note and interpret tell-tale signs of defects and also provide enough useful information about cracks, dampness, insect attack etc to enable a purchase decision to be made without referring to "specialists". Recommending specialists be employed should only be done when remedial work is actually necessary.
For a list of Chartered Building Surveyors in your area look under "Surveyors-Building" in Yellow Pages and look for the RICS Panel.
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snipped-for-privacy@postmaster.co.uk (SuzySue) wrote:

Whatever survey you get done, TALK to the surveyor when you get the report. A surveyor can be restricted to caveats and arse covering in a written report but may give an honest 'off the record' opinion on the property. Personnaly I would first go arround the house with a builder friend and look closely. THEN get a full survey. Richard
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This is *damn* good advice! On each of the few times we've moved house, talking with the surveyor has saved us a bundle. Couple of examples: a nice-looking "cottage" (20s sub-Arts&Crafts place) in Norf Oxford which had been loft-converted. We liked it (hey, we wuz young). Chap went to look at it, was honest enough to take the initiative in asking us to phone him. "Don't touch it," he said, "the walls are bowing outwards as the roofridge gently drops; they took out the cross-members and didn't tie the structure together properly. If you want this in writing, that'll be 300quid; if you're happy with this verbal, call it 100." Needless to say we used him for the next survey on the place we did buy; and were amused to hear from a friend who lived round the corner - part of why we'd wanted it - that the couple who *did* buy it spent the winter in a caravan while the roof-and-upstairs were fundamentally rebuilt...
Similarly the more recent purchase: made an offer on the place up the hill from the one we bought in the end. Agreed on a full survey for that one, and agreed we'd take a verbal report first. The Nice Man came back with a list of about 5 substantial Works which needed doing, which ruled it out for the quickish purchase we needed to make (wanted to move in before the start of the new school year); and took a good chunk off the price of the survey on the aborted purchase when we used him to look at the one down the road we finally bought - paid about 1.5 times the price of one survey for these two (second one written up), *and* had his excellent advice on the strength of our buying position (we'd sold the "old" house and had buyers anxious to do their move during the summer break too) to stiffen our resolve in not overpaying for the hunted house. Keen as I was to get moved in, I read the written survey on where we are now in an initially optimistic frame of mind, summarising it to myself as "well sound", and it wasn't until I started on the programme of minor works I'd noticed needed doing for myself (once the first flurry of moving in was over) that I reread it and found each of the things I'd now decided to fix were clearly spelt out on his survey.
(The more recent "valuation" report when moving mortgage this summer, by contrast, was a total joke: one page of tickenboxen, with material inaccuracies and inconsistencies. Though the friends who were staying in our place while we were away told us he had actually come inside, rather than just driving past, he must've been smoking something seriously efficacious to come up with a couple of the misstatements he did. Oh well, it was all funny-money (valuation fee paid by new lender) with a m-ge of about 40% of the nominal valuation, so I didn't see any reason to correct the sillies.)
HTH, Stefek
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When I made the offer on this house yesterday I said to the estate agent that the offer was subject to survey.
BTW, the house is simply a "regular" two-storey end-terraced house.
The estate agent asked me if I wanted to have my own independent survey conducted, and I said yes. I think that was the right thing to say!!
He then told me that I should get the survey done ASAP, as they wouldn't want to get to the stage where they agreed the sale with me, then I had survey done. In case I dropped out at that stage and they lost the other two bidders.
I thought the survey was done *after* the sale was agreed??
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(IANAL, assuming English, rather than Scottish)
Yes. You can't be expected to commit to the expense of a full blown survey without at least a verbal acceptance that the house is taken off the market. Obviously, nothing would be legally binding until exchange of contracts. However, I'd be very worried proceeding on the basis that the other bidders are still in the running, as you are quite likely to waste your cash. If the vendor wishes to proceed on this basis, then they should organise a survey from a reputable firm agreeable to you and recover the costs from you upon exchange.
Christian.
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I buy old houses, that are not moving, and there is little or no compotition. The last one had been empty 2 years and needed a 4x4 to get neer it, the one before was a half finshed diy project. the one before ...........
I make a low offer, if they take it then thats the price a pay.
If they talk me up, I let them, then survey and use it to batter them down below the orignal price.
The more you can find wrong the better, if you can find some serious issue (no services, leekey roof) better still.
Rick
On 5 Dec 2003 02:16:15 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@postmaster.co.uk (SuzySue) wrote:

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The Estate Agents Act requires us to continue to market a property until exchange of contracts, and to report all offers to our clients in writing, unless instructed otherwise by the client.
The ultimate effect of this law is to actively encourage gazumping, but nobody seems to be aware of this, and the Government certainly dont publicise the fact.
The fact is that most people have a survey/valuation, and come back to knock something off the price, saying that they wont buy it, or cant afford it, if their demands aren't agreed to. This is not much different to gazumping, but is culturally acceptable. However, if they are in competition with someone else for a house they want, having told us that this isn't fair, or even that it is illegal, it is amazing how quickly they forget they didnt want to buy it, or didnt have the money.
If we are to obey the law, and look after our clients interests, it is very difficult to end up with a happy buyer.
I have one developer client who is prepared to agree a "lock out" for 4 weeks, or so, in return for a non-refundable fee of between 1,000 and 5,000, which forms part of the purchase price if they proceed. many people wont agree to this, and his attitude is that they cant have their cake and eat it.
New house builders operate the same system. 1,000 to reserve, which is lost if they dont proceed. This seems to be quite acceptable to buyers of new properties, but not of second hand properties..
It is my own opinion that the system stinks, and that there are some massive vested interests which have every reason not to encourage an improvement of the system.
--
Richard Faulkner

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IMHO a "full structural" or even a homebuyers is a waste of money.
If the place is falling down, then the lenders survey will find that.
Get the vendor to let you have a really good poke arround, which is all the surveyor does. Take off light switches, feel if raidators wharm up, get the vendor to turn on gas fires, taps. Take off the odd light switch / wall socket, look in the fuse cupboard. Lift up carpets (if possible) look like a hawk for mold, or even hire a damap meter. Check doors and windows close, skick head out of window and look for leeksing gutters.
The survey does some of this then writes his notes in such a language that it tells you nothing, like "there is some evidence off XXXXX and it should be checked by a specalist company", they use this loose language so you can't sue them when they screw it up, and it they are not confident enough to use definitive language then the survey is not much good.
For example, mine told me the access track was muddy and may be slipery when wet. mine told me he did not check the sewage arrangment, and I should get a specalist to do that, even a simple glance and basice knowledge of the regs told me it was illegal.
Rick
On 4 Dec 2003 09:15:52 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@postmaster.co.uk (SuzySue) wrote:

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