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The importance of having a property surveyed before signing contracts

When you are buying a property in Ireland there are dozens of steps to remember. Between gathering documents, communicating with estate agent, solicitors, insurance companies, planning moves and much more, it can feel like a full time job on top of your already busy life.

One step that many people leave right to the end of the process, and a step which some people even skip, is to hire a surveyor to inspect the property and give you a report on it's condition.

What is a Survey?

A house survey, sometimes called pre-purchase survey, structural survey, engineers report, property survey etc. is a report on the condition of a second hand property. It's purpose is to give you a professional opinion on the condition, including any structural issues identified, so that you can make an informed decision on proceeding with the purchase and signing contracts.

Do I have to get a survey when buying a house?

In most cases, there is no requirement to get a survey. However as we'll cover below, it is highly recommended. It will always be recommended by your solicitor and occasionally your solicitor will have queries for the surveyor to advise on.

Banks will request a survey to be complete in some circumstances which vary from bank to bank and usually based on the age of the property. For example, Bank of Ireland automatically ask for a survey to be conducted once a property is over 100 years old.

If your bank do request a survey, the survey will have to be conducted by a Building Surveyor, Engineer, Architect or Architectural Technologist. The surveyor or their company will have to have PI Insurance with a minimum cover of €1m.

Why is it important to get a survey before buying?

Buyer Beware... Sellers do not have to disclose issues!

A house or apartment is one of the most expensive decisions you will ever make. In Ireland, unlike buying a new product, once you sign the contract on a second hand property, the house is yours and in the exact condition you bought it. If any issues are identified after you get the keys, you have no legal comeback.

The vendor does not have to disclose any issues which are currently known about the property. For example, if they are aware that all of the roof timbers are rotted and need to be replaced, they do not have to inform any potential buyers.

Because of this, it is your responsibility to ensure you have done your due diligence on the condition of the property and hiring a professional to conduct a survey is the best way to do this.

You don't want any surprises!

There will be issues with with every single second hand property and there is nothing more disheartening than moving into a property and finding a bunch of unexpected issues.

Thankfully, most issues are minor and would not be cause to pull out of the sale. However, even minor issues which would not cause you to pull out of the sale add up. So you'll want to be aware of what will need attention after you move in so you can plan for the cost and work.

What types of issues can a surveyor identify?

Although a pre-purchase survey is visual in nature, there is a very extensive list of possible issues which a surveyor can identify. These include:

  • Structural Issues

  • Damp Issues

  • Issues caused by general wear and tear

  • Issues caused by poor maintainence

  • Building regulation issues

  • Health and Safety Issues

  • Legal Issues (related to certs or boundaries)

When a surveyor identifies an issues, they should give you an idea of how serious it is along with any advice or recommendations.

How do I find a reputable surveyor?

There are a few items you want to check:

  • The surveyor is either a Building Surveyor, Engineer, Architect or Architectural Technologist.

  • They are registered with a governing body for their profession.

  • They carry PI Insurance.

  • The are recommended by past customers or well reviewed.

If you follow each of these steps, your chances of finding a top quality surveyor will be much higher. However, if you don't want to spend hours and days emailing, calling and filling out forms, why not visit our sister company are Ireland's leading surveyor. They offer the fastest turnaround times, upfront pricing, top quality surveyors and they cover every county in Ireland. Their surveys also exceed the standard SCSI Type 2 report which most companies use.

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