Building Survey vs Homebuyer Report

House SearchBased in Berkshire, RMA Surveyors Ltd have recently surveyed properties in Newbury, Reading, Wokingham and Windsor.

When making an initial enquiry for a survey on a property, we are often asked what the difference is between a Homebuyer Report and a Building Survey. Our simple response is that while both involve a survey of the property, a Homebuyer Report details all the essential elements of a building but goes into less detail than a Building Survey.

If you would like to read more about the details of each report, take a look at our Property Surveys page.

As chartered surveyors, RMA Surveyors Ltd always provides professional advice and will recommend which type of survey best suits the proposed property. By analysing the age, type (e.g. semi-detached or bungalow) and whether there are any extensions to the property, we can determine which survey would best outline the condition of the building.

If you are unsure which type of survey would be most suitable for the type of property that you are intending to purchase, please contact us and we shall be happy to discuss this with you.

For a Homebuyer Report or Building Survey quote, please call RMA Surveyors Ltd on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

RICS Residential Market Survey

ricsRMA Surveyors Ltd, Newbury have been reading the latest update from RICS, regarding its UK Residential Market Survey.

It states that supply and demand varied across UK in January and 49% more London surveyors saw prices fall in January 2015.  It continues, stating that Scotland and Northern Ireland’s housing market outperformed the rest of the UK in January, with more buyer enquiries, stronger price growth and higher confidence in the outlook.  However, the national results, which are based on England and Wales only, continue to signal a cooling market and price growth has all but levelled off with just 2% more surveyors expecting prices to increase over the next three months (its slowest pace since May 2013).

You can download the January 2015 RICS UK Residential Market Survey here.

If you’re looking for some professional advice regarding a property purchase in Berkshire, please contact RMA Surveyors Ltd on 01635 579 208 or complete the Contact Us form and we’ll be in touch.

Commercial Building Survey

Steel clad roofRMA Surveyors Ltd recently undertook a commercial building survey of an office unit located in Kingsclere Business Park, nr Newbury.

Part of our remit was to inspect the roof, which was a low pitched profile, steel clad roof that could not be easily accessed from ground level. We organised for a lift access platform to be hired and meet us out on site to undertake this part of the inspection.

We advised the client in advance that this would be necessary and it would be worthwhile investigating the condition of the roof covering given that it was likely to be original to the property, which was constructed in the 1980s.

We discovered that the protective paint to the roof covering was rusting in places and that one of the internal gutters was blocked. Both of these items could be potentially costly to rectify, involving the requirement for scaffolding to be employed to safely access these elements.

There was no way to determine this prior to our inspection and our client would have been in a strong position to renegotiate the terms of sale taking into account the defects noted.

If you have a commercial property that you are considering purchasing or leasing, please contact us for advice and a free, no obligation quote.

Homebuyer Report identifies Movement

ground movement on buildingWe undertook a Homebuyer Report on a starter home in Thatcham. The property was constructed in the 1990s. During the survey we noted that there was a pattern of mortar repair to the outside walls that suggested some kind of ground movement or subsidence had occurred in the past. We identified this in the RICS Homebuyer Report, and reported it back to our client.

Our client asked their legal advisor to investigate this matter further. It was determined that the property had been repaired previously due to heave, caused by the removal of a tree in the front garden. The repairs were made in the last 10 years.

Our client reported that they were having difficulty trying to obtain building insurance as a result of the findings. It can also be a difficulty in securing a mortgage where ground movement is identified at a property.

We were pleased to be involved and if it were not for our expertise and involvement at this stage prior to purchase, our client could have taken on a potential liability.

Although not as detailed as a Building Survey, a Homebuyer Report will identify any significant defects, such as historical subsidence or ground related movement to buildings, and will put the purchaser in a far better position so that they understand the extent of their liability prior to proceeding with the purchase.

We would thoroughly recommend that no matter what the age of the property that you consider instructing a Chartered Building Surveyor to conduct a Building Survey or Homebuyers Report prior to exchange of contracts.

For further information or advice, please contact us on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

Homebuyers Survey finds damp

HBR dampWhilst undertaking a homebuyers survey in Newbury, our surveyor discovered damp to the base of internal and external walls and damp also to the ground floor throughout the property.

The exact cause of damp could not be determined, although our suspicions were that the damp was caused by a damaged or failed damp proof membrane to the floor. Other possibilities included buried service pipes within the floor screed, which could be leaking.

It is very common for service pipes buried in screed prior to the 1970’s to not be properly protected. Copper pipes can react with the cement within floor screeds causing corrosion; this process is accelerated where moisture is present. In some cases, where we have found similar problems and pipes have been exposed, the copper pipes are extremely thin due to this corrosive process and prone to leaking.

If you have any concerns regarding damp or are experience any similar problems please contact us on 01635 579208 or use the form below.

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Survey highlights flood risk

building survey door drainageWe undertook a building survey of a mid-terrace cottage in Sonning Eye, Berkshire. The property was identified as being in a likely flood area. The current vendor reported that although the lane near the property had regularly flooded, there had been no incidence of flooding during the occupation of the property since 2006.

We highlighted this to our client and advised that they should check with their insurance company that they would be able to obtain adequate building and contents insurance. Given the location of the property, there was likely to be an additional premium relating to flood risk.

The client did undertake these additional checks and whilst waiting for this and other legal checks to be undertaken the weather of the recent winter deteriorated and heavy rainfall unfortunately led to the property flooding.

It appears in this case that the client had a lucky escape. Flood reinstatement works can often take a long time, as we have experienced in overseeing the project management works of properties that have flooded in the past.

It is now quite possible that since the property has so recently flooded this will have affected any insurance policy to incoming owners.

If you have any queries relating to flood damaged properties or require us to undertake flood reinstatement work, please get in touch on 01635 579208 or complete the form below.

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Building Survey Boundary Issue

Retaining Wall & buddleiaWe recently undertook a building survey in Reading; the property was an end of terrace Victorian house. The building itself was in moderate condition, with only minor repairs required, for example some re-pointing of masonry and repair of flashings to chimneys.

The property was on a sloping site, with a retaining wall defining one of the boundaries. The retaining wall was significantly damaged by buddleia (commonly known as the butterfly bush) which was growing through the wall and had misplaced the masonry.

We identified this to our client and advised that they would need to check the ownership of this boundary.

The implication was that as the owner they would need to have the wall repaired themselves, incurring a cost and an agreement with neighbouring properties, from where the works would need to be undertaken. If it was not a boundary belonging to the house, they would need to persuade the owners of the retaining wall to undertake the works themselves.

Should the retaining wall collapse through structural failure it would pose a risk to the building itself and potentially to neighbouring properties, so it was an item that required attention.

As a prospective buyer, identifying issues like this is not easily done, especially when one is caught up in the excitement of taking on a new property. Although our advice can be often be sobering, it can also prevent a nasty hangover from occurring in the future.

If you need advice regarding any structural matters concerning retaining or Party Walls, or would like a quote for a building survey, please contact us on 01635 579208 or by using the below form.

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RICS ‘Buying a home: let the seller beware’

ricslogo_100x350RMA Surveyors Ltd, Newbury have been following a RICS discussion which talks about how a house sale can often be hampered, with information coming to light after a house sale has been agreed.

It states that ‘in most cases, it relates to things that might affect the value and/or the enjoyment of the property – especially if an unknown, possibly prohibitive cost is involved.’

It’s an interesting read and discussion.

We believe it’s vitally important to get a house inspected by a Chartered Building Surveyor, enlisting their services to conduct a Homebuyers Report or a Building Survey, prior to purchase. As a purchase, a house is one of the biggest investments you may make in a life time, so it’s important to be in receipt of the facts.

RICS states that ‘A purchaser is advised to obtain their own home survey (NOT a lender valuation) as a first step, then to heed any recommendations for further specialist reports or quotations for repairs – to build up as big a picture of the property as possible.’

If you’d like further information on a RICS Homebuyers Report or Building Survey, or to receive a quote, please contact us or complete the form below.

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Building Survey found no Chimney Breast

Chimney StacksWhilst undertaking a building survey in Reading, Berkshire, we identified that a chimney breast to a shared chimney stack (or party stack) had been removed by a previous occupant.

The removal of the chimney breast will have required permission from the Local Authority Building Control Department and the person undertaking the work would have had to demonstrate to Building Control that the method of supporting the retained chimney breast in the roof space was structurally adequate. This would usually involve a design from a structural engineer to demonstrate that the method of restraint had been properly calculated.

Additionally, because this is a party structure, the work will likely have required agreement under the Party Wall Act and there should be record of such agreements available for inspection. Without such an agreement in place, the building owner may be liable for repairs to the neighbouring property in association with any structural defects in relation to the removal of the chimney breast.

In such situations, liability is not always clear and the fees of solicitor’s and construction professionals can lead to spiralling costs. These matters can be all dealt with prior to exchange of contracts through a legal advisor.

Were this item not identified prior to the sale of the property, our client could have taken on an expensive liability.

If you’re in need of a Building Survey or Homebuyers Report please contact us on 01635 579208 or use the form below.

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Ensure Extensions are Structurally Sound

Bungalow ExtensionWe undertook a building survey in Chieveley. The property in question was a bungalow which had undergone a roof conversion and had further extension work undertaken to the rear of the property.

The survey that we undertook didn’t throw up any specific serious defects; however, there were a number of minor items that we brought to the client’s attention to enable them to negotiate some money off the agreed sale price.

More critically for the client, we were able to provide peace of mind that the extension works had been undertaken and completed to a satisfactory standard and that he would not be taking on a property with a variety of inherent defects for which he would be saddled with the costs.

When taking on a property that has had recent extension works undertaken, there is often no guarantee that is transferable with the sale of the property. The nature of building contracts is between two parties, it is often very difficult to bring action against a negligent builder once the property has exchanged hands.

For this reason it is very important that a building survey is undertaken to either provide peace of mind or to highlight any deficiencies within the structure and make aware any potential liabilities.

If you need a building survey undertaken in Chieveley, or a surrounding area, please contact us using the form below or call us on 01635 579208.

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