The art of knowing how to survey property correctly is a skill that many property investors and developers would give their right arm to learn. As a property professional one of the annoying little expenses that you constantly have to pay is that of the property survey.
Wouldn’t it be great to cut down on the amount of in-depth surveys you have to pay for each year? This article will go into detail about how to survey property yourself. It will give you a checklist of vital things to look out for when surveying property. By the end of it you will have enough knowledge to be able to make educated decisions on the state of any given property.
The first thing to do is to make sure you are prepared. Below is a list of a few items that you might want to take with you when you go to view a potential investment property.
A useful tip (though not always practical) is to try and do the survey in wet conditions. This way you can spot problems with down pipes, a leaky roof, faulty guttering or any other wet or rain related problems.
You don’t necessarily have to do the survey in the order that is specified here. However, it might be wise to firstly start off by taking a walk around the property and trying to get a general feel for it and the location.
Check the condition of any outbuildings associated with the property. That includes sheds, garages, outdoor offices, barns, stables, toilets or anything else.
Check the state of any alterations that have been made to the property. Check extensions, loft conversions, basement conversions (be especially mindful of any problems with damp in basement conversions since, if they have not been built correctly, these conversions are notorious for damp problems, ).
It is crucial that you check any relevant paperwork and ensure that things where done according to building regulations and that planning permission was obtained where necessary. It is also a good idea to view any current guarantees or warranties the vendor has.
Other Things to Check
If you are trying to be meticulous in your property survey, then you will probably also want to check the seven things on the list below.
Lastly, do not forget to check the land registry to find out the actual price that comparable properties in the area have recently sold for. There are many free websites on the Internet that you can get this information from.
All the items listed above can be checked and verified by you just as well as they can be by a surveyor who comes into a property and walks around it for 25 minutes. Learning how to survey property yourself is not necessarily something you need a degree to be able to do. However, if you have a builder that you work with regularly, or that is a friend, then I would advise you to try and drag him along to your property visits – especially the first few – until you gain more confidence.
The fact is, most surveyors are not stretched very much in their day to day jobs and the skills that they use to do the average run of the mill property survey, only touch a fraction of what they spent years studying.
This article was not written to put the humble property surveyor out of business.
Surveyors are vital cogs in the buying property wheel and even if you don’t employ them, lenders always will. When you need them, surveyors can be an invaluable lifeline. If you are dealing with a property that is not standard build, that is not your average property, or that you just feel might have problems, then you need to organise a comprehensive survey by a professional.
The reason this article was written was to try and educate the average property investor and developer so that they can judge the condition of a property themselves before having to call in the surveyor. That way, if the vendor is not willing to come down in price, they can eliminate a number of properties they are looking at, before they spend money on a property surveyor.