Buying an old house – get a building survey

Building Survey

Click on image for Building Survey video

If you are thinking of buying an old house, it’s essential to always invest in a detailed survey. It may be a further expense in the process, but it is far better to fully  understand the extent of any necessary repairs before committing to a purchase.

Before putting in a final offer, try to gauge some idea of the costs involved in any necessary renovation or repair works programme. At Carpenters , our surveyors will try to provide estimates, that you may be able to use when negotiating the final price to be paid for the property.

Be realistic!….Too many people take a rose tinted view when buying an old house that requires work. Old building projects can be very stressful, so carefully review the project ahead, your budget and time frames before you proceed to commitment.

An old house has many significant qualities that makes it special. Even the humblest two-up, two-down property will have little touches of craftsmanship that give it individuality. Walk down any street of traditional houses and you’ll see a plethora of what might seem like almost unnecessary detail. It may be moulded brickwork, carved stonework, or a simple flourish on a window frame. Coupled with the attractive passage of age, it’s this bespoke craftsmanship and thoughtfulness to the level of detail that gives older properties character and makes them worth cherishing.

Period buildings whilst offering a great deal of character and history can be difficult to fully understand. An incorrect diagnosis with a moisture problem for example can have disaster out effects on the fabric of the building!

Understanding the structure of the building is vital. Some properties that appear to be brick are, in fact, timber frame, while render coatings may cover a whole variety of unexpected materials. Never assume that, because one part of a wall is of a certain material, the whole house is the same: often a wide variety of materials are found in one building. Internally layers of plasterboard or dry-lining may be hiding all manner of problems.

Often items like perfectly good original windows are needlessly replaced with poor replicas or, worse still, totally inappropriate styles/materials.This can often  devalue the property both aesthetically and, according to many estate agents, financially.

Equally, be wary of past repairs or alterations, as poorly executed building work often holds unpleasant surprises. Quick fixes and the use of cement mortars, renders and plasters can all lead to problems in the future.

Carpenters Building Survey

The Carpenters Building Survey is suitable for all residential properties, providing a detailed report on their construction and condition.

The Carpenters Building Survey is the perfect choice for those older or more unusual buildings. We would recommend this level of survey if the building is more than 100 years old, is unusually constructed. It’s particularly useful if the property has been extended or altered or even if you’re planning a major conversion or renovation works.

This level of survey is the most comprehensive report that provides you with an in-depth analysis of the property’s construction, condition and includes advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options. The report will offer advice on when you might want to carry out such repairs and what costs might be involved in carrying them out. The report will also prioritise the more important considerations that require immediate investigation or repair and the implications if not attended to over time.

!–Building survey example – period property–>

Example RICS Building Survey

Listed buildings

If the property is a listed building or in a conservation area, any work you do on it may be restricted, and you will have to follow certain guidelines. The scope for any structural change could be extremely limited and you’ll need to discuss any proposals with your local planning authority. You may also have to get consent from English Heritage (or Welsh Heritage/CADW) before work can begin. Commissioning a Building Survey is a MUST for a Listed Building.

Non-traditional housing

If you’re looking at something different, you could check out the possibilities of pre- fabricated buildings, constructed in a factory to your specifications and delivered on-site. Off-site construction can include anything from simple extensions built ready to plug into main services, right through to entire pre-fabricated houses, though arranging mortgage finance may not be as straightforward as for conventional buildings.

To understand more about the different types of surveys available and what they offer, please visit our YouTube channel or call us today. One of team members will be more than happy to chat through your circumstances and offer free impartial advice as to how best to proceed.

Keep in mind when you buy your home, you want independent advice, giving you the detail you need. A valuation from a mortgage lender is not a survey. It only really tells the lender whether the house offers security up to the amount you are wishing to borrow.

A survey from an Carpenter Surveyors will tell you a great deal more, and could save you thousands in the long run – especially in older properties, or when you want to make alterations. It may also enable you to negotiate the price.


Watch our short animated video explaining about our Building Survey Report

Example RICS Building Survey

What’s included?

  • All parts of the property with steps taken to access difficult areas
  • Where possible drain covers and electrical wiring is inspected (Note: for a definitive report on services a competent electrician and plumber must carry out extra tests and this can be arranged as a separate service)

What’s it suitable for?

  • People who want in-depth insight into almost all detectable defects
  • Suitable for most houses built before 1900 and dilapidated properties where a more technical report is required

What do you get for your money?

  • Peace of mind with a in-depth insight into the nature of the property before you commit
  • Detailed condition information that you may be able to use to reduce the price of the property
  • An independent valuation of the property which you may be able to use to reduce the price of the property