So, what should you do? Firstly - don’t panic! Please be reassured a survey is the only way to have a comprehensive overview of the property you’re buying so you don’t encounter any nasty surprises when you move in. View it as a good thing, not a necessary deal breaker.
The standard form of procedure for properties in England normally involves an RICS survey. These surveys use a traffic light system accompanied by a Condition Rating to grade the defect, making it easier for the reader to interpret what issues need addressing and how quickly (see below):
- Condition Rating 1 (green) means the element is in an acceptable condition and you need to maintain in the normal fashion.
- Condition Rating 2 (amber) means there is a defect but it is not significant or urgent, i.e. you can move into the property and then rectify. You should be mindful if you have various Condition Rated 2 elements, it can be costly when you add it all up.
- Condition Rating 3 (red) means you need to consider before proceeding with the purchase as, left untended, can either affect the fabric of the building or be a potential health and safety risk.
Generally, Section G (Services) will typically be rated as a Condition Rating 3, unless the surveyor has had sight of the relevant certifications, so this is not to be alarmed about. Surveyors are only permitted to carry out a visual inspection as testing can only be done by qualified specialists. Electrics should have a periodic inspection carried out every 10 years, 5 years for a rental property or upon a change of ownership. Gas should have a GasSafe certificate within the last 12 months. Your legal advisor can request this from the seller.
Once you have digested the report, you should then be obtaining any additional specialist reports your surveyor has requested, i.e. a damp and timber report. It is imperative you obtain this before an exchange of contracts. They may have also recommended other experts provide quotes such as a general builder or roofer. Once you have received all the quotes, you can then make an informed decision about going ahead with the purchase of the property.
If major repairs are required, you can ask the vendor if they are able to repair them in the first instance, although they are not legally obliged to do so. In some cases, people prefer to carry out the work themselves to ensure it’s done to a satisfactory standard. It is at this stage you can use this information as a tool to renegotiate the purchase price. Worst-case scenario, you have the right to walk away if the work to be carried out is considerably more than you expected.
Your surveyor should be happy to talk you through the results and, dependent on what type of survey you commissioned, they may provide costings to give you a ball-park figure of the financial outlay.
In summary, the survey report is crucial to your decision-making around whether you go ahead with the purchase of the property or not. We are happy to read through your report and discuss the findings with you. By way of extension, we can introduce you to the relevant specialists to ensure you are working with the right professionals, thus providing you with the peace of mind and reassurance you need at this fundamental stage.