Homebuyer Surveys

'Homebuyer Surveys' are a packaged format marketed by the RICS.  They are almost entirely 'tick box' and provide little or no information worth knowing about a house.  They are acknowledged by all, even RICS, as being unsuitable for old houses.  They are marketed by internet based groups like Countrywide and E-Surv who undertake mass market, pre packaged surveys.  Some of their surveyors report having to do several surveys a day..

We undertake homebuyer surveys of old homes built with solid walls and breathable materials.  We work all over the country.  We have surveyors in London, and Scotland. We cover Yorkshire, The Lake District, Weardale, Northumberland, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Wales, Devon, Cornwall, Hampshire and beyond..  

We specialise in homebuyer surveys for old houses - we understand old house construction, and why these houses often have damp problems.  Most timber and damp problems are very simple to rectify, but need specialised knowledge of the building, and the materials used in the building, to diagnose and sort the problems.

Most homebuyer surveys are tick box lists which are almost useless to anyone.  They do not help you understand your prospective home.  They don't help you work out what any work might cost. They usually recommend a 'timber and damp' survey as well - they shouldn't - it should be a part of the survey. If a building condition surveyor has to get someone else to tell him why the house is damp, he does not know his hand from his face, let alone how to survey a dolls house.

We don't recommend other surveys - we do it ourselves because we understand the buildings - we know the cause of problems, and we can show you the solutions.  We can even help with arranging schedules and specifications for building work.

If you need a Homebuyer survey, whether in London, Scotland, England or Wales - drop us an email and we will discuss your purchase with you to see how we can help.

We use a lot of equipment to do our building condition surveys - commonly, we use thermal imaging to find cold spots which indicate where there is a potential for condensation (which the damp fraudsters tell you is rising damp..) we use thermo hygrometers to measure humidity in the building, and moisture content of the air under floors, behind cupboards and so on.  We use carbide tests to measure the exact moisture content of brickwork and stone walls.  Building Condition Surveys are a complex art, and you can't do them in a few minutes.  

One survey I recently had to check had been done by an RICS chartered surveyor, who did the whole thing in 30 minutes. He charged £850 for it.  He missed the fact there was a flying freehold.  He missed the lack of any fire protection in the attic dividing the space between two properties.  He diagnosed damp problems in the house next door, not the one he was paid to survey!

Another survey we checked - again very expensive - had missed a structural concrete wall on top of a 3x2 inch rafter in a kitchen - and housing a bathroom including bath that would hold a quarter of a tonne of water - total weight of full bath and wall - nearly 3 tonnes - on a ceiling rafter no thicker than your arm... 

Another one - said the roof was fine.  I climbed in, and found two broken purlins ready to collapse. Turned out the surveyor was very fat, and could NOT have gotten into the roof space, so just wrote 'roof appears ok' - negligence claim ongoing.

Another one - just settled for nearly £150,000 out of court - the timber frame was apparently only in need of 'routine maintenance'.  I leaned against it and the building moved.  Owners moved out, timber frame rebuilt on the chartered surveyor's professional liability insurance.

Another - Georgian roof space -surveyor said roof was ok - we asked how he had missed the fact that concrete tiles were now actually so heavy the rafters were splitting and breaking - roof about to collapse.  Negligence claim ongoing.

Yet another - said the roof was fine - apparently a bit of normal 'woodworm' in timbers.  They were powder - I put my hand through one of the main structural support beams - its a flat pitched stone tiled roof with about 10 tonnes of stone slates on it.  Negligence claim and ombudsman ongoing.

All of these within the last 12 months alone - It is frightening just what level of incompetence there is out there.  I'm sure half the surveyors that look at houses have never taken one apart - it's all book learning and 'qualifications' - 'professional development' - letters after the name.. What happened to experience?

Not all surveyors are quite so stupid - but the majority of tick-box homebuyer surveys are done far too quickly, and are churned out by internet based 'book your building survey here - we're cheap!' companies.  If you get one, look out - you'll almost certainly regret it.

Costs are around £1900 for the survey, plus mileage.  Please bear in mind that a RICS homebuyer survey is not suitable for an old house, and you should be looking to compare with the cost of a rics Level 3 survey.  (Around £1900 to £2500 depending on the size of the house). The new RICS survey guidance rules do state clearly that homebuyer surveys are really only suited to a small modern building. A small investment considering your home is probably the biggest investment you will ever make in your life.  We like you to be with us.  We like to explain what we are seeing and why. What you need to do, what materials to use and so on.  

WE use a huge variety of equipment.  The average surveyor will turn up with a 'damp meter' which does not even measure damp.  We turn up with thermal imaging cameras, thermo hygrometer, infra red probes, carbide testing kit, we even have a drone helicopter with camera for difficult roofs.  In my opinion you cannot do a survey without these pieces of equipment to back up your experience and confirm diagnosis of a problem.

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