Preparing for a RICS Home Survey: Tips for Homeowners

Buying a home is a significant milestone and not always an easy one! A home is a significant investment, which is why it can be a complex process that involves various inspections and assessments to ensure that you are making the right choice. Among these inspections, a RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) home survey stands out as a crucial step in understanding the condition of the property you’re about to invest in. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner, preparing for a RICS home survey can help streamline the process and ensure that you make informed decisions.

Understanding RICS Home Surveys

Before delving into preparation tips, it’s essential to grasp the different types of RICS home surveys available. The kind you need can differ depending on where you are in the home-buying or selling process. Our team of RICS chartered surveyors offers three main types:

  • RICS Property Valuations: The property valuation is primarily and simply a valuation of your property. These are typically used for tax planning, probate, insurance and matrimonial matters and aren’t recommended for buying a property.
  • RICS Homebuyer Report (Level 2): More detailed than the valuation, the Level 2 RICS survey assesses the property’s condition and identifies any visible defects, potential problems, and necessary repairs. We provide a detailed inspection of the interior and exterior of the property, including any utilities and some grounds aspects. It is non-invasive and use a traffic light system for any defects that require attention.
  • RICS Building Survey (Level 3): The most comprehensive option, the Level 3 RICS Survey is suitable for older or non-standard properties, providing an in-depth analysis of the building’s condition, structure, and recommendations for maintenance and repairs. This also includes a traffic light grading system for easy identification of key issues.

Tips for Homeowners Preparing for a RICS Home Survey

There isn’t much that you need to do to prepare for your RICS survey. Our surveyors are experts in their field and are well-versed in surveying countless types and states of properties, meaning we can conduct surveys on most properties without requiring anything from you. However, there are a few things that you can do in order to streamline the process and ensure your survey goes as smoothly as possible. These include:

  • Gather Documentation:

Collect any relevant documentation about the property, including planning permissions, building regulations certificates, and guarantees for works carried out. By providing the surveyor with access to these documents, you aid their assessment and ensure that all potential issues are addressed adequately. 

  • Clear Access:

Safety is paramount and ensuring that the surveyor has unobstructed access to all areas of the property, including the attic, basement, and any outbuildings will ensure that they not only stay safe while conducting the survey but can access all potential problem points. Clear away clutter and move any obstacles that may hinder the inspection process.

  • Highlight Concerns:

Make a list of any specific concerns or issues you’ve noticed about the property, such as damp patches, cracks, or leaks. While we will typically find them during they survey, by communicating these concerns to the surveyor at the time of booking, you can ensure they pay close attention to these areas.

  • Utilities and Services:

Ensure that all utilities, including gas, electricity, and water, are turned on and accessible during the survey. If possible, provide documentation related to any recent servicing and maintenance of these utilities as extra insight for your surveyor.

  • Budget for Repairs:

Be prepared for the possibility of the survey uncovering issues that may require repairs or maintenance and therefore, costs. By factoring potential repair costs into your budget, you can be more realistic about the financial implications of addressing any identified issues and ensure you are prepared to get the work done as soon as possible.

After The Survey

After your survey has been completed, you will receive a report that details any potential problems that need to be addressed. While our Level 3 survey breaks down potential costs involved in the necessary repairs, the next steps are up to you. To make the most of your survey, you should:

  • Review the Survey Report:

Once the survey is complete, you now have the opportunity to carefully review the survey report provided by your RICS surveyor. We utilise an easy-to-understand grading system and provide advice and expected costs where relevant, so pay close attention to any areas flagged as requiring attention and seek further advice or clarification if needed.

  • Seek Professional Advice:

If the survey identifies significant issues or raises concerns about the property’s condition, consider seeking advice from relevant professionals, such as structural engineers or building contractors. We can also conduct further issue-specific surveys to give a more in-depth approach to a particular problem, giving you better insight into what needs to be done next.

By following these tips and actively participating in the survey process, homeowners can gain valuable insights into the condition of their prospective property and make well-informed decisions regarding their purchase. Remember, investing time and effort in preparing for a RICS home survey can ultimately help safeguard your investment and ensure peace of mind for years to come. For more information or to book your survey with our team, we are on hand to help. Simply get in touch with our surveyors for support, today.


My Walls Are Cracking – Should I Be Worried?

The houses we live in are our homes, shelter, safety and protection from the elements and when we spot things like cracks or potential damage, it can be devastating. More than just a cause for concern, it can trigger stress, anxiety and more. If you’ve spotted a crack in your walls, this anxiety is understandable but they aren’t always a sign of something sinister. Some can be easily remedied while others require more specialist attention, and a home survey can help point you in the right direction. From the causes of wall cracks, to how a home survey can help you determine whether you need to seek assistance, we’ve got you covered:

Understanding the Types of Wall Cracks

A crack in the wall can vary in depth, length, appearance and more, but each one could have a different cause depending on the condition of your property. From hairline cracks that are often harmless, to horizontal cracks that could indicate a structural problem, here are the types that you may face and what they could mean:

  • Hairline Cracks: Hairline cracks are thin, shallow cracks that often result from minor settlement or the natural ageing of building materials. These cracks are typically cosmetic and may appear as a result of temperature fluctuations, humidity levels, or minor foundation movement. While hairline cracks are common and usually harmless, they can be a precursor to more significant issues if left unattended.
  • Vertical Cracks: Vertical cracks that run straight up and down are commonly associated with settling or minor shifts in the foundation. These cracks may occur near door frames, window openings, or corners of walls. Vertical cracks are usually manageable, but they should be monitored to ensure they do not worsen over time.
  • Horizontal Cracks: Horizontal cracks that span across the wall horizontally may indicate more serious structural problems, such as foundation issues or excessive pressure from the surrounding ground. Horizontal cracks can compromise the stability of your home and should be evaluated by a professional as soon as possible.
  • Stair-Step Cracks: Stair-step cracks follow a diagonal pattern and are often seen in brick or concrete block walls. These cracks may signify foundation settlement or lateral pressure exerted on the wall. Stair-step cracks should be addressed promptly to prevent further damage and potential structural failure.

When to Consult a Home Surveyor

While minor cracks may not pose an immediate threat, it’s essential to address any concerns promptly to prevent further damage and ensure the safety of your home. At Able Surveyors, we can provide both a RICS Level 3 Building Survey to assess the condition of your property, or specific defect surveys to determine the severity of the cracks in your home. If you’re unsure whether a home survey visit is necessary, it’s important to understand the potential risks involved in cracks and that even the smallest hairline cracks should be seen to before any further damage can occur. You should consult a home surveyor if:

  • You notice horizontal or stair-step cracks in your walls.
  • Cracks are accompanied by signs of foundation movement or structural instability.
  • Cracks appear suddenly or worsen rapidly over a short period.
  • You are unsure about the cause or severity of the cracks and require a professional assessment.

One of our qualified home surveyors can conduct a thorough inspection of your property, identify the underlying causes of wall cracks, and recommend appropriate measures to address any structural issues. Early intervention can help mitigate potential risks and minimise the cost of repairs in the long run.

How We Assess the Severity of Wall Cracks

When assessing the severity of wall cracks, our team are well-versed and highly experienced in spotting the signs of deeper issues. We are able to adequately assess any potential structural damage, as well as provide estimates as to how much it may cost to repair the issue at hand if needed. When assessing the severity, we look at:

  • Size: We measure the width and length of the cracks. Small, narrow cracks are less concerning than wider, more extensive cracks.
  • Location: We take note of the location of the cracks within your home. Cracks near doors, windows, or load-bearing walls may warrant closer inspection.
  • Accompanying Symptoms: We also look for signs of foundation movement, such as uneven floors, sticking doors or windows, or gaps between walls and ceilings.

While wall cracks can be a source of anxiety for homeowners, not all cracks indicate serious structural problems. Understanding the types of wall cracks, assessing their severity, and knowing when to seek professional guidance are crucial steps in maintaining the integrity of your home. By staying vigilant, addressing issues promptly, and consulting with qualified experts when necessary, you can ensure that your home remains safe, stable, and structurally sound for years to come. 

For more information on how we can help or to book your home survey with our team, simply get in touch on 0207 164 6628, today.


Why A Building Survey Can Help You Save Money In The Long Term

Buying a new home or property is a significant financial investment, whether for residential or commercial purposes. Amid the excitement of acquiring a new property, it’s easy to overlook potential issues that could lead to costly repairs down the road. This is where our Level 3 building survey becomes an invaluable tool, helping you make informed decisions and potentially saving you a substantial amount of money in the long run. We’ve broken down just how this works, below:

Understanding Building Surveys

A building survey, also known as a property inspection or structural survey, is a comprehensive assessment of a property’s condition. Conducted by our qualified and experienced surveyors, our RICS Home Survey Level 3 aims to identify any defects, structural issues, or potential problems that may not be immediately apparent to the potential buyer or investor. The surveyor thoroughly examines the property, inside and out, providing you with a detailed report outlining their findings.

As Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) members, we provide trusted and proven home surveys to each and every one of our clients. Our membership and RICS approval puts us in a unique position and sets us apart, ensuring that we can provide building surveys that you can truly rely on in London and the surrounding home counties. 

What Is Included In A Survey?

Our RICS Level 3 Home Survey provides everything you need from a buildings survey as well as a few extra points that most other surveyors won’t offer. We believe that an all encompassing service provides peace of mind, ease of use and puts you in a better position when it comes to making a property investment. A RICS L3 Home Survey includes but is not limited to: 

  • Thorough Inspection of the property
    • Interior and Exterior of the building
    • All outbuildings
    • No removal or bringing-up of any fabric of the property (e.g. carpets etc) without owner permission 
    • Roof space, if safe to do so
    • Desk-top study and oral enquiries for any other matters involving the property
    • Etc.
  • Detailed Report based on the inspection 
    • A report for your use with inspection results
    • Condition ratings (e.g. Condition Rating 1, Condition Rating 2, Condition Rating 3, NI and R)
    • Energy performance certificate
    • Potential costs associated with suggested repairs or actions needed (this comes at no additional cost to you)

Why They Can Help You Save Money

When it comes to home surveys, the initial cost can seem unnecessary at first glance, but going without a survey may actually cost you more money in the long run. A professional and thorough survey can help to highlight any potential problems in a property you are looking to purchase, and give you a number of options for what to do next:

Identification of Hidden Issues:

One of the primary benefits of our L3 home survey is its ability to uncover hidden issues that might not be visible during a regular property viewing. Structural defects, dampness, subsidence, and faulty wiring are examples of problems that may go unnoticed without a thorough inspection. By identifying these issues early on, you can address them before they escalate from a minor issue into a major, costly problem.

Cost Estimation for Repairs:

As part of your Level 3 Building Survey, we include all projected cost estimations for repairs as part of the service. Where other surveyors may charge you for this in addition to the standard fee, we include this as part of all Level 3 surveys to ensure that you have a clear and concise picture of what work a building may need and the costs associated. Your surveyor will not only find the problems but also provide estimates for the cost of any necessary repairs according to current industry rates. Armed with this information, you can negotiate the property price with the seller or budget for future repairs. This transparency allows you to make informed decisions about whether the investment is financially viable in the long term.

Negotiation Power:

Having a detailed building survey report can be a powerful negotiating tool. If the survey reveals significant issues, you may be able to negotiate a lower purchase price with the seller. Alternatively, you could request that the seller address the identified problems before the sale is finalised. This negotiation power can save you a substantial amount of money and ensure that you’re not stuck with unexpected repair costs after the purchase.

Avoiding Future Litigation:

In some cases, undisclosed property defects can lead to legal disputes after the sale. An L3 building survey acts as a safeguard against such situations by documenting the property’s condition at the time of purchase. This documentation can be crucial evidence in case disputes arise, potentially saving you from the hefty costs associated with property-related legal battles.

Insurance Savings:

Some insurance providers may offer lower premiums for properties that have undergone a building survey. By demonstrating that you’ve taken steps to identify and address potential risks, you may be seen as a lower insurance risk, resulting in cost savings over the life of your insurance policy. It can also make it easier to make claims if something does go wrong in the future if you have a survey that states an issue wasn’t pre-existing.

While our RICS Home Survey Level 3 requires an initial investment, the potential savings and peace of mind it can provide make it a wise financial decision. By uncovering hidden issues, estimating repair costs, providing negotiation leverage, and potentially lowering insurance premiums, a building survey is an essential tool for anyone looking to make a sound investment in real estate. If you are in need of a building survey, our team are on hand to help. We provide comprehensive surveys across London and the Home Counties, with 25+ years of experience. We are independent, RICS Chartered surveyors that you can trust. Simply get in touch to find out more or book your survey, today.

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