Sherwood Surveyors & Property Consultants

07530 291 367

To survey or not to survey?

Do I need a survey?

The purchase of a residential property commonly involves the buyer(s) obtaining a mortgage. In order for the mortgage lender to agree the mortgage they send out a surveyor to compile a mortgage valuation report. The inspection required to compile the mortgage valuation report often takes no more than twenty-five minutes and so the extent of the inspection is limited. The survey is also often undertaken by a General Practice Surveyor rather than a Chartered Building Surveyor who is recognised as an expert in construction and defect diagnosis.

A mortgage valuation inspection is not a comprehensive survey and while the borrower (purchaser) will often receive a copy of the report it is in a simple format. The RICS state that ‘It answers only the lender’s questions about whether the property offers suitable security for your loan. You cannot rely on it to answer the questions that concern your personal interests or to give you details of the condition of the property’.

The Consumers’ Association ‘Which?’ magazine and the Council of Mortgage Lenders advise that even if you obtain a mortgage valuation report they still recommend that you arrange a survey by your own surveyor.

The older the property the more likely there is to be a problem in this regard approximately 27% of the UK housing stock is over 100 years old and a further 50% was built before 1945.

Our experience of undertaking surveys of new properties for the NHBC has also shown us that even properties less than 10 years of age can also suffer from significant defects.

These problems and defects are not always visible and we recommend the commissioning of a survey prior to purchase. While the commissioning of a survey may appear to be a further expense it can often save you money in the long term reasons include:

  • With full details of the condition you have power to negotiate on a reduction in the price or request for works to be completed by the seller prior to purchase.
  • It is best to identify structural defects prior to purchase because contrary to belief not all structural problems are covered by building insurance policies. Examples include; inadequate lintel provision above openings sulphate attack (if not caused by an ‘insured peril’) and damage that pre-dates the inception of the policy.
  • A report can provide you with details of possible future expenditure associated with the building. By having the information available prior to purchase you are able to plan for future maintenance and repair.
  • Most lenders advise that the Mortgage Valuation Report should not be relied on when deciding on the purchase of the property.
  • A large financial commitment should be made with confidence especially in the current market where prices can fall as well as rise.

Sherwood Surveyors can provide a professional service based on many years of experience of investigating and reporting on the condition of residential property.

We are able to undertake the surveys recognised by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and provide you with a concise report on the condition of the property.


Call us today on 07530 291 367 or 01909 512 149 and speak to our Chartered Surveyor.

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