The purchase of a home is probably the biggest investment and financial commitment that most people make during their lifetime. Furthermore, once all the paperwork has been completed, for the majority of people, the property will be the biggest monthly financial outgoing for the greater part of their working life.
As such, it makes sense to ensure that the building being bought is not only what it is claimed to be regarding boundaries, rights of way, building restrictions and so on, but that it is also suitable for its purpose. A building in a poor state of repair or with ‘hidden’ problems, such as dry rot or subsidence, could entail continual repairs and refurbishment that may drain the purchaser’s financial resources, even to the point of making the repayments of the property loan unaffordable.
In other words, a survey provides protection regarding the description of the property in both physical and legal terms. A survey will highlight any areas of the building’s fabric that may need attention as well as any areas which may potentially be the cause of any future legal disputes. If after having a property survey done, matters do not turn out to be as detailed, the purchaser at least has legal recourse against the building surveyor.
A property is not something that you can just take back to the shop if it doesn’t ‘perform’ as expected, and problems inevitably get bigger and more expensive the longer they are left, so it is vital to know what you are up against, even if the results of the survey mean that you have to turn down the opportunity to buy your dream house. After all, when you buy a car, you don’t hand over any money unless it has the necessary documents to prove its road worthiness, and its service and repair history. If there is anything that creates doubts as to its reliability, you just say ‘no’ and move on. The same cold, ruthless logic needs to be applied when buying a property.
It should be borne in mind, however, that property surveys are not a one-way street. If you are the seller of the property in question, you also stand to gain from a property survey. As the seller, you can have one done in order to inspire the purchaser’s confidence and trust in the property and any claims you may make regarding its condition. Furthermore, and arguably more importantly, a survey provides protection against any future legal disputes which may arise from alleged descriptions or claims that are challenged as being inadequate or inaccurate.