We have developed a range of Surveys which can be tailored to suit individual requirements and needs and although we have general report formats, the design is such that we are not constrained by paragraph headings. We are always happy to try to give you exactly what you need within the framework rather than offering you a one size fits all approach and therefore compromising on what you need.
We do take the view that certain Survey types that are offered to the house buying public whilst, on the face of it are substantial and useful documents, they can often raise more questions than they answer and cause alarm where it is not necessary. For example, certain report types include colour-coded traffic lights to rate the condition of a certain item and we are concerned that an inexperienced purchaser would look at those at face Value and jump to an incorrect conclusion.
Our approach is different. Regardless of the Survey type that you select, if there is an issue that we feel needs to be reported, it will be reported in the general style of;
‘here is the problem, here is what we think is causing it, this is what you should do, and these are the implications’. If you like, we are pointing things out but not leaving you hanging.
The problem with implying things within reports is that it leaves the buyer hanging in mid-air and potentially unsure as to how to proceed.
We certainly do not take the view that we should tell you as little as possible and if you actually want to know anything, we should charge you extra for it. We believe very much in transparency and honesty. We can’t do half a job.
Regardless of the Survey type that you choose as long as we agree that it is appropriate for the property, we won’t stop trying to explain things to you until we have finished.
In short, what we believe that we offer to you is what house buyers feel that they should expect from a Surveyor. They are employing an experienced professional who will tell them things, explain it to them, reassure or warn where necessary, but ultimately leave them feeling that they have dealt with a proper Surveyor rather than somebody who just gathers information and presents it without explanation or justification.
If you complete the website enquiry form, ring or email us we are happy to send you out example reports by email (or by post if you are not comfortable with technology) and for that we will need a property address so that we can look at it online and an email address to send example reports to you. We will be able to determine what the property is in roughly how old it is and then send you example reports which show that we can cover those areas. If we send you a couple of example reports, fee quotations will be provided for each and we do offer £15 plus VAT discount from our quoted fee if you do instruct and require the report sent as a PDF but not posted. Some people however prefer the bound report to hand. It certainly makes good bedtime reading.
The Essential Survey (equivalent to a Level 2 - 3 Survey)
The Essential Survey was originally created to provide a very viable alternative to the RICS homebuyer Survey, presented differently but ultimately intended to be a much more useful document. It was therefore originally intended as a Level 2 type Survey.
Ours is a policy of continuous improvement and we have always tried to make our range of Surveys as good as they can possibly be. In terms of diagnosis, thoroughness of inspection and detailed reporting, whilst we do not call it a Building Survey, Full Structural Survey or Level 3 Survey, there are areas in which we believe it is still better than its Level 3 alternative and at least its equal in many others.
Ours is a thorough, practical Survey which would deal with all property types and provide the level of descriptive detail that people may expect from a ‘Full Survey’
As with all of our work, we are not constrained by paragraph boundaries and we cannot do half a job. If we need to tell you something, we don’t stop until we have finished telling you.
Typically, the Essential Survey will run to probably 15 pages plus a couple of pages of additional notes and Recommended Suppliers but whereas it is somewhat shorter as a document than its Homebuyer Survey (Level 2) or Building Survey (Level 3) equivalent, the information you receive is ‘action packed’ and useful and is not made up of pre-printed headings and padding. It is structured and easy to read.
It is what we would call user-friendly and our intention is that when you read the report from start to finish you will hopefully put the report down and think ‘ these guys are actually trying to help me and are on my side’.
For the impatient ones amongst our Clients, including those who routinely go to the Sport pages of a Newspaper first, the interesting bit (Repairs Summary) is about four pages from the end.
All Surveys include an Insurance Reinstatement Cost Valuation although this is not to be confused with a Market Valuation which is provided as a separate exercise or within the report at additional cost.
The Brief Indicative Survey (equivalent to a Level 2 Survey)
The Brief Indicative Survey type came a short while after the Essential Survey was created and although originally designed with the intention of being suitable for more modern property, its scope can be extended to pretty well any property type, its main difference between it and the Essential Survey being that the Essential is more descriptive in terms of walls, roof and specific headings including dampness.
In the Essential Survey, these are covered as individual paragraphs in detail whereas the walls and roof are summarised within the description of the property (which is still fairly extensive) but the dampness and timber issues are dealt with in the repairs section if there is an issue to report. If there is not, then the Brief Indicative report remains silent.
The inspection is the same with the Brief Indicative Survey as the Essential Survey, but the report is punchier or more concise. We still test for damp, lift drain covers where possible and inspect two-storey roofs and above where possible using an 8m or 11m telescopic pole with remote access camera to be able to report on areas that are not normally covered in a Survey. We look in lofts and try to deal with as much that will be of use to you, as possible.
Whilst we are confident that either Survey type will suit pretty well any property type that you wish to purchase, unusual properties including Grade II Listed buildings really should fall outside the scope of both Surveys and you would require a full Building Survey which is not a service that we can offer.
We recently had an enquiry from a Client who stated that they were told that any property over 50 years old will probably need a Full Building Survey, but our attitude is that a house built out of brick and slate or tiles in the 1840s is put together in exactly the same way as something built 100 years later and we really don’t see why such an arbitrary distinction has to be made.
Just for avoidance of doubt, roof spaces will be inspected from ladders internally, single storey roofs inspected externally from ladders and higher roofs where direct or safe access is not possible will be inspected using telescopic pole and remote access camera. We look in basements, test for rising dampness to walls and try to see how the drains are running.
We also look at garages and permanent outbuildings directly associated with the property.
Individual Defect Report
It might be that when you are buying a property or own it but have concerns that we can report on specific areas only. We tend not to get involved with disputes where a firm may have carried out works such as constructing a new conservatory which has defects, but we can refer you to Specialists.
It might be however that, for example you want to know whether a loft conversion previously carried out on a property might be compliant with Building Regulations in the absence of Certification, or if an extension looks as though it may comply. You might want to know if the roof on a property looks to be sound enough or well supported and whether detailing to a re-roofing job is correctly done.
We are happy in these cases to quote you on specific issues and provide you with a report covering those areas. The cost of such Surveys usually quite a bit less than the cost of a full Survey on the entire property and where sometimes a Survey of this type might be seen as overkill.
In terms of roof inspections, we do all carry an 8 m telescopic pole and we have an 11 m pole to try to gain access to the roofs on taller properties such as Georgian townhouses but before accepting instructions we would probably need to see what the property was and what access was needed.
We can carry out Surveys for rising dampness, but our equipment is fairly general and realistically if it is a damp problem, you are advised to obtain a report from a Specialist, which you will likely have to pay for but at least it will come with many years of experience and expertise from that person who specialises in that area.
Our general Survey reports provide a detailed list of both essential and general repairs, but these do not normally come with costings. We can provide rough estimated costings on certain of the points once you have considered them as they may be helpful to you as part of your ongoing negotiation process with the Vendors.
These should not be regarded as a substitute for formal quotations but at least we’ll try to give you a bit of a steer as to what you are likely to be dealing with before it is too late. One thing that we always say to our Clients in our Terms of Engagement is that we do not really want you to give your report straight to the Estate Agent or Vendor or in its entirety.
We are reporting to you and as part of our very honest approach, we might say something about the property totally impartially, but a Vendor might take exception to it. The last thing we want is an angry Vendor us ringing up, haranguing us for having the temerity to criticise their property.
The other reason we suggest you do not routinely hand over the report is that if the sale subsequently fails, the report you will have paid for suddenly becomes a free report to the Vendors. We are however prepared to provide you with a summary of salient issues extracted from the report should you need them to assist your negotiations with the vendors and the agent.
We believe that transparency is the key and is an open, honest approach works far better than a ‘cloak and dagger’ approach.
Services we don’t offer
Boundary And Access Disputes
It can be from time to time that somebody wishes to know the ownership of the boundary or a right of access and if you have access to your own Title Deeds and that is usually fairly easy to adduce. Most people do not have access to their title deeds, but it could be that the Land Registry Title and Plan can give clues. An inspection may or may not reveal the answer, but you should not work on the common premise that the left-hand boundary automatically belongs to the subject property.
That all depends upon what the surroundings are, which properties were built first, who has land that is being retained and other features. Sometimes it is only possible to make an educated guess. Where deeds are ‘silent’ it could imply a Party Boundary.
Whilst we are prepared to try to advise as far as possible on certain matters which might include inspection, we will not become embroiled in disputes.
Party Wall Act
A ‘dark art’, and not one that we can provide a service in, but we do have access to excellent Surveyors who specialise.
Again, a ‘dark art’. We know and recommend a smashing Local Architect who can advise on all manner of design and Planning.
The equipment that Specialist Land Surveyors use and how they use it is far beyond what we can hope to provide with a tape measure and some pegs.
We don’t own a theodolite or ranging rods and even if we did, we wouldn’t have a clue how to use them.
Schedules of Dilapidations
This involves a different set of Protocols to Schedules of Condition and we would refer you to one or two Specialists in that area if required.
Partial Structural Surveys
You should be aware that we are not Structural Engineers. Whilst we have substantial experience in Surveying including the diagnosis of structural issues, it may be that you have had a Mortgage Valuation carried out and the Surveyor has found cracking which they are unwilling or unable to diagnose and have called for further investigation.
This can also happen in Homebuyer Surveys (Level 2) or Building Surveys (Level 3), which to us defeats the object of obtaining Professional Survey advice. By far the most common requirement is for a Structural Engineer’s report and without it, the Valuer or Surveyor will be unable to Value the property or recommend granting a mortgage.
We do have access to Structural Engineers, whom we are happy to recommend if required but it is not a service that we can provide at this point. The benefit of having a Structural Engineer’s report, including on property that you currently own, is that they are usually more directly involved with Insurers and if the problem becomes the subject of an insurance claim, it is better that they front it for you.