Cash Purchase Investor, second home

If we only had a penny for every client who says “we just got our Builder to have a look, and he thinks it’s pretty sound, so we’re not sure if we need a survey”.

Well, where to start with this? Don’t get me wrong, most builders are pretty good at building stuff. We work with many fine builders, and we don’t do their job, so to put it politely – why would you think a builder can do ours?

Did you know that it takes a minimum of 5 years, and often much longer to qualify as a Chartered Surveyor, and then there’s the Continuing Professional Development that we commit to every year throughout our working lives. Then there’s the Professional Indemnity Insurance that we have to secure annually in order to deliver our professional advice. This means that if anything is missed on survey, we have Insurance to cover us. Then there’s the audit process carried out by our professional body, the RICS. Does your local builder subscribe to all these processes? Thought not.

We recently had a client who came to us for a survey, even though his builder had given him the thumbs up. To put it bluntly, he wasn’t sure that he wanted to pay £500 or so, for professional advice. He was looking at a lovely listed Georgian terraced house (so, some 180 years old), in a conservation area of an attractive local market town. We explained the shortcomings of a builder ‘shuftie’, and the benefits of a Chartered Surveyor’s Building Survey, and we were instructed.

Following inspection, alongside the general maintenance issues identified (which to be fair you might expect in a property of that age), what his builder had missed was an ancient collapsed drain which was just starting to undermine the integrity of the entire listed front elevation of a beautiful property. Our Consultant Engineer’s estimates were put at approx £50k to resolve the defect, and substantial inconvenience and time to rectify it.

We knew there were inconsistent soil conditions in that particular area, and our Surveyor was able to interpret the subtleties of the new movement. What the builder had put down to ‘age’ was massively in-correct, and would have put our client into a nightmare scenario of build costs and liability.

Additionally, we used our vast amount of experience in the whole residential sales and acquisition process, to ask some very searching questions of the Agent and Vendor, to put together a picture of what was happening. The purchase process is an adversarial one – you really need a good Surveyor on your side!

It’s fair to say our client was disappointed, but fortunately in this case our advice was money well spent and he opted to purchase a new build property instead – they just didn’t need that kind of property project!