For most of us, buying a house is the most significant financial investment we will make during our lifetime. As conveyancing solicitors, our advice is always that a buyer should get a full survey. It is your responsibility to instruct a surveyor (not your conveyancer’s). If questions come out of the survey, your conveyancer may however raise these as ‘pre contract enquiries‘ of the seller. Your solicitor will not be able to air a view on the building survey as their job is the legal side of things. You (as buyer) have a professional contract with your surveyor and you must be guided by them on any issues relating to the ‘bricks and mortar’.
If you are taking a mortgage, your lender will insist on a valuation. Unlike a full survey (which is a warts and all report on every aspect of the building (internally and externally), a valuation simply gives a broad brush view that the property is worth what you are paying for it. It is to reassure your mortgage lender that they could recover the money they have leant you should you default on your mortgage.
In between a valuation and full survey you may want to consider a home buyers report which is less detailed than a full survey, but covers more than just the property’s value (in a valuation). Home buyer’s reports are perhaps most appropriate where properties are newer, and with fewer question marks. If in any doubt – get a full survey.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) can help you find and choose a surveyor. Remember – it’s ‘buyer beware’ when purchasing property. And, once you have exchanged contracts you are stuck with it come what may! So, getting a survey is always the cautious/sensible approach. It could save you a lot of money in the long run if it turns out that there are issues with the house you are buying.