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A homebuyers survey can be a good idea before you buy a property. The survey and report that follows can help you uncover any potential issues and repairs that are needed.
This information can help you to negotiate a better price. It can also help you to assess the amount of work needed after your purchase, as well as potential costs.
Damp is one of many defects that a homebuyers survey will look for. The survey will include a visual inspection for clear signs of damp, as well as damp meter readings that will be carried out at regular intervals.
The surveyor will also carry out a thorough external inspection. This will identify defects to the outside of the building that are potentially allowing damp to penetrate inside.
Whilst a homebuyers survey will look for damp and report on its findings, it is not a thorough damp survey. If damp is located, they will often recommend that a damp specialist is instructed to carry out a more thorough damp inspection.
With that said, if the cause of damp is obvious. For example, condensation, or it is clearly penetrating damp from an external defect they have already discovered, this will likely be included in the report.
Whilst a homebuyers report is thorough, it is also non-intrusive and is usually just visual inspection. This means the surveyor will not move furniture, they will not lift carpet and floorboards. As a result, when damp issues are found on the surface, it is quite common that they will recommend a more specific damp survey.
Could a homebuyers survey miss damp?
Because discovering damp is not the sole purpose of a homebuyer survey, it is possible that the surveyor could miss damp.
As we have already mentioned, they will only carry out a visual inspection and are less likely to move objects such as large furniture. The inspection is generally surface level, so it is possible they will miss hidden signs.
The damp meter readings that the surveyor takes will also be carried out at intervals, as well as instances where visual signs of damp are present. For this reason, it is very possible that less obvious damp issues could be missed.
However, if obvious signs of damp are present the surveyor will instruct you to carry out further investigation, with a more thorough damp survey. When this survey Is carried out, it will be much more thorough and is far less likely to miss anything.
What should you do if your homebuyers survey finds damp?
One of the main purposes of carrying out a homebuyer survey, is to avoid overpaying for a property with hidden issues. Nobody wants to buy a property, to later find that there are serious repairs needed and lots of extra expense.
If your report uncovers any issues, this can potentially be used as a bargaining tool, to negotiate a better price on the property.
This doesn’t just include damp; the survey will look at all aspects of the property. This will include visual, internal inspection of things like:
- Loft space
- Internal roof area
- Internal woodwork (looking for signs of woodworm and rot)
Externally they will look at:
- The roof
- Guttering and down pipes
- External walls
- Windows and doors
- Obvious signs of subsidence
A surveyor will also look at services to the property, such as gas, electric, and water. This will also include drainage; all will be used to help assess an energy efficiency rating.
If the report picks up any issues, you can use these to help negotiate a better purchase price.
Getting a damp survey
If damp is an issue, you could instruct a damp proofing company to come out and provide a more thorough damp survey.
Many damp proofing companies will offer a free damp survey, and this will provide a more detailed damp report and a quote for any repairs that are needed.
Once you have this information, you can approach the seller with an offer that represents the work needed. This will make it more likely that you can achieve a fair price for the property.
However, there is one thing to bear in mind when having a free damp survey carried out.
The company offering the free survey is a business. There is a reason the survey is free, and this is because they intend to quote for work. Whilst this is completely reasonable, it is advised to get multiple quotes, so you don’t overpay for damp proofing work.
One quote will be sufficient when used to achieve a better purchase price, but you should shop around when you come to doing the work.
Hiring a good surveyor for the best price
When you are planning to have a homebuyers survey carried out, you will need to find a RICS qualified surveyor. In many cases these may be recommended by your lender, solicitor, or estate agent. However, you may be able to get a better price by comparing companies online.
By using a comparison site, you can get a much better idea of who you are hiring. Surveyors on these sites will have a full company profile, including things like:
- Company details
- Real customer feedback and reviews
- An overall rating for job satisfaction across all previous customers
- List of qualifications and certifications.
The service will usually give multiple quotes from local companies, meaning you get to compare several different surveyors.
Also, because these companies are competing for your business, the quotes tend to be extremely competitive. This means prices can be lower than those recommended by lenders, solicitors, and agents.
Our favourite comparison service for this type of work is called Bark. Their service will give you up to 5 local quotes from surveyors in your area.
A homebuyer’s survey can be a particularly useful investment before you purchase a property. The survey itself is quite detailed, it will usually uncover any obvious issues the property is facing. This will include damp and a variety of other problems.
You can see an example homebuyes survey here
Whilst the survey could uncover damp issues you should not rely on it to give in-depth reasons and solutions to damp problems. This will usually require a more focused damp survey.