Many buyers, when purchasing a home, become confused between the different types of surveys and searches.  Here are some guidance points to consider.
Searches are carried out by your solicitor, on your behalf and depending on the area.  It may be necessary to have a number of different types of searches instigated and your solicitor will advise you on the appropriate ones.  Typical searches are as follows:-

  • Local Authority Search – This is carried out by your legal adviser with the Local authority and will confirm the planning history for the property.  This search looks for planning proposals such as new roads, changes in road layout, building developments in the vicinity and alterations to land use or public rights of way. 
  • Environmental Search – This will reveal the history of the site on which your house has been built.  It will check if it has been built on waste or landfill site and if it is within a flood plain.  
  • Drainage Search – This is carried out with the Local Authority, who will confirm if the property is connected to the mains drains and whether the property is on a water meter or not. 
  • Mining Search – If the property is within a mining area, this is a search of the Coal Authority records of past mining activity, to establish whether the property is on land, which is at risk of mining subsidence.  The search will also show if there has been a mining claim on the property and if so, how the claim was settled.

Most purchasers obtain a mortgage to finance their new home and rely on this to decide, if they should proceed to buy.  But be warned, the mortgage valuation report is prepared for your lender, to help them to decide if your home is one they wish to lend on and offers suitable security.  They are not obliged to provide you with a copy of the mortgage valuation report.
The best way to reach an informed decision, is to have a professional survey and valuation of the property, by a qualified member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).  Three types of surveys are offered:-

  • RICS Homebuyers Report (HBR).  This gives information on the condition of the property and raises issues that may affect the value of your property, plus a market valuation and insurance reinstatement cost and advice on repairs and on going maintenance problems.  The report uses the RICS red, amber and green colour coding system, so as with most things in life, lots of red means be warned.
  • RICS Condition Report (CR).  The CR is similar to the HBR, but unlike the HBR, it will not include a valuation, or an insurance reinstatement figure.  This new product offers purchasers an interim report, that is more than the lenders’ mortgage valuation, but less than the RICS Homebuyers Report.
  • Building Survey (formerly Structural Survey).  This provides a detailed report on the building’s construction and condition.  It is particularly useful if the property is dilapidated, has been extensively altered, or if you are planning a major conversion or renovation.

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