Building surveys are usually conducted to check whether a building is structurally sound. Often they are undertaken prior to purchasing a private property.
The three main types of property surveys are Mortgage Valuation Report, Homebuyers Survey and a Structural Survey.
The Mortgage Valuation Report is the most basic of them all, and does not list any faults not visible to the eye. It’s only purpose is to establish if property is in a reasonable condition and worth the purchase price.
Homebuyers Survey is a step up from the Mortgage Valuation Report and highlights any problems which require urgent attention or repairs.
Structural Survey is the most thorough of them all. It needs to be carried out by qualified Structural Engineers and will involve a detailed structural survey of the property from top to bottom. No stone (or should we say roof tile) will be left unturned. Structural Engineers will look at the types of materials used, the condition of the roof, the integrity of the foundations and the state of the walls- i.e. all structure is examined in detail.
Amongst other things, a Structural Survey will highlight any problems a building might have resulting from DIY improvements or alterations or removals of supporting walls. Presence of hazardous materials, such as asbestos is established and suggestions for removal made. Window frames, plumbing, electrical work and insulation is looked at. Signs of frost damage or subsidence are looked at etc.
To establish whether you do need a Structural Survey or not it is useful to bear in mind that if the property is expensive, unusual, over 50 years old, in a visibly dilapidated state or you intend to carry out major alterations, then you probably need one. Also, once a professional structural survey is carried out you will be offered insurance against any subsequent problems occurring.