House & Structural Surveys

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Why a House Survey is Important

A structural survey / pre-purchase survey is an inspection carried out by a professionally trained person in order to assess the general condition of a house or an apartment. Whether it’s referred to as a house survey, a structural survey / report or a pre-purchase inspection, getting a survey completed on a house or apartment is a prudent part of a property buying journey. It’s not a compulsory step for buying a property but it’s a common step that many people do incorporate into the process and it’s important to understand that the physical condition of the house / apartment is a concern of the purchaser, not the seller.

Can I Use the Bank’s Valuation Report as the Structural Survey?

If you’re financing the purchase of the property with a mortgage, then your lender will require a valuation to be completed post sale agreed. As the purchaser, you pay for this valuation; the majority of these valuations are carried out by estate agents and not engineers or surveyors. The lender has a panel of estate agents they work with and they provide you with this list in order for you to engage them. Furthermore, the purpose of the valuation on behalf of the lender is not to check for defects in the property, its purpose is to establish the value of the property bearing in mind the value of the proposed loan (mortgage) offer; essentially it is to reassure them that the property is worth the sale agreed price. As a result, you definitely should not rely on the bank valuation report as a structural survey of the property. If you wish to get a pre-purchase inspection done on the property that you’re sale agreed on, you will need to organise it yourself.

Typical Cost of a Pre-Purchase Inspection / House Survey

In terms of costs of an apartment or house survey, it would cost approximately €445 - €500 for a 2 bed apartment or 3 bed semi-detached house in the Cork or Dublin areas. Of course, for larger properties or for period (older) properties or properties that are in an obvious state of disrepair, it will likely be a higher cost. You can get real-time quotations on the Auctioneera Marketplace where there are a number of independent pre-purchase engineers covering all of Ireland. Handily, you can also check their reviews to get an indication of their past work.

Getting a Survey - Auction V Private Treaty

In terms of structural surveys, with auction sales you would need to get a structural survey done before making a bid; with private treaty property sales, the survey is done after going sale agreed. Bids are binding when it comes to purchasing a property for sale by auction; in contrast, offers on private treaty properties are not binding until contracts are signed. We have a comprehensive guide on the difference between auction sales and private treaty sales here.

What is Checked in a Structural Survey?

Structural surveys will involve a comprehensive overview of the construction of a property, identify any major or minor defects present, and make recommendations for remedial repair. These will be detailed in the report that the surveyor issues to you after the inspection.

 

As you can see in the video above, structural house survey reports can be lengthy and so if you engage the services of a structural engineer, you will want to take some time to review what they’ve detailed in their report. Of course, some building surveyors / engineers cover different elements as part of their surveys but in general the following will be covered in typical house surveys. Note that if you book a surveyor on the Auctioneera Marketplace, you can see exactly what each surveyor includes in their survey inspection before you book the service.

What’s Commonly Covered in House Inspections:

(Be sure to check what your chosen surveyor covers as part of their fee)

  • Internal and external visual inspection
  • Roof cover inspection (including fascia/soffit, rainwater goods, rooflights, valleys)
  • Chimney stacks inspection
  • Windows, doors and external walls inspection
  • Ventilation check (background/mechanical, sub-floor, cavity, roof void)
  • Damp Proof Course (moisture meter testing)
  • Roof structure and attic area inspection
  • Internal area inspection (ceilings, floors, walls, doors, staircase, kitchen/bathroom fittings)
  • Woodworm assessment
  • Dry rot assessment
  • Visual assessment of services - gas, electricity, water, drainage, heating system
  • Outbuilding assessment
  • Planning/ building regulation compliance review
  • Boundary map review

How Long Does a Pre-Purchase Survey Take?

How long the property inspection / survey takes to be completed of course depends on the size of the property. However in general, a property inspection can take around three hours for a standard three or four bed property. If it’s a period property or a property on a larger scale, it might take a half a day or slightly more. If you’re unsure, you can always ask the surveyor that you have chosen. Completing the inspection is just the first step because after that the surveyor will draw up the report itself and as seen in the video above of the sample report, these can be lengthy.

What Type of Surveyor Should I Get for the Home Inspection?

When sourcing someone to do your pre-purchase inspection / survey, you may come across a variety of firms. Architects, engineers, or quantity surveyors are all professionals that can carry out a property inspection. By carrying out this work, they can report on any defects that wouldn’t appear to the untrained eye.

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