Upon accepting an offer on a property, you should arrange a survey of the property. Unless you live in Scotland, where the vendor must provide a home buyer’s report before the property is listed.

Depending on the type of survey you require, you can find qualified surveyors through the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA) or Sava, all of which Carpenter Surveyors are part of. 

A property survey can be classified into three types. RICS, RPSA, and Sava all refer to the same document as a condition report, a homebuyer report, and a building survey. The RSPA also offers a buy-to-let property survey for landlords.

Depending on the scope of the survey, you may need to reduce your offer price to account for any defects or structural issues with the property. The vendor or developer may also offer to remedy any maintenance issues prior to the sale rather than reducing the sale price.

If you would like to know your offer price before you make an offer, you can arrange a survey in advance. However, in most cases you would do so after the offer has been accepted. Until contracts have been exchanged and deposits have been paid, your offer and the amount you have offered will not be legally binding.

A new-build property should, of course, be in immaculate condition since it is brand new. Even so, you shouldn’t try to save yourself some money by skipping the survey. This could end up costing you more in the long run because you won’t have discovered potential issues until after you bought the property.

When it comes to new build properties, you should also conduct a snagging inspection, which differs from a home buyer’s survey.

During the snagging inspection, any issues of workmanship, work that was not completed to the agreed standard or specification, and/or any potential issues that are not compliant with the relevant building regulations will be identified. If you are buying a property built on a large development, you should get a snagging inspection, especially if it is one of the last homes built on that development since these homes are usually the ones that are most likely to be cut corners and use cost-saving measures.

Before you move in, the developer should resolve any snagging issues highlighted in the snagging report. An architect’s certificate can also provide you with a warranty that covers any structural problems for a period of six or ten years. Before signing any contracts and purchasing a property, make sure to see a copy of this warranty.

You should always make sure you conduct a survey and/or snagging inspection as soon as possible if you are buying a brand-new home ‘off-plan’ – that is, before it has actually been built. It is advisable to do this before exchange, and certainly before completion if you cannot do so before exchange. This will allow you to rectify any issues before you have paid in full and moved into the property.

You can also request a defect report from a surveyor if you have any concerns about a new build property. This means they will only focus on that issue and any potential risks that are associated with that issue for you as the buyer.

The RICS homebuyers report is the most popular with buyers, particularly for newer properties in good condition. If you are unsure of the type of survey to choose, your conveyancer and surveyor can advise you.

However, you should keep in mind that neither the survey nor the snagging inspection are the same as the mortgage valuation survey that your mortgage lender will want to conduct before they agree to loan you money. In addition, some mortgage lenders may offer a smaller mortgage amount for new builds. This is because they expect the property to lose value in the first few years once it is no longer brand new.