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The Risks of Leaving a Survey Until Right Before Signing Contracts

There is some mixed opinions on when the best time to hire a surveyor is. Some people say it should be booked before you bid on the property, others say right before signing contracts. Well, in most cases, these people are wrong...

After helping over 5000 people, we can categorically say the best time to get your survey is "As early as possibly in sale agreed and when you have spoken with your solicitor".

A survey should be booked as early as possible in Sale Agreed and after you have spoken with your solicitor
When should I book a survey?

Why you should NOT leave a survey until right before signing contracts?

It can be very tempting to make sure everything else is in order before booking and paying for a survey. However, a survey is not simply a box checking exercise and doing so presents some risks.

For example, If you leave the survey until a few days before signing contracts and the surveyor does identify any serious issues which need further investigation, then the contracts will likely be delayed. This along can frustrate the various parties involved and mess up plans you had on moving.

A more serious case is where the surveyor identifies some serious defects which might cause you to pull out of the sale. In this case you'd have spent weeks, or even months on a property and that valuable time is now gone.

This is the exact scenario which happens to a customers of ours in March. They had originally gone sale agreed in early October. They were then due to sign contracts on Friday March 22nd, but did start the process of booking a survey until just 1 week before hand. We were thankfully able to fit them in on the Tuesday and had the survey complete and returned to them by the end of that day.

Unfortunately, our surveyor identified 2 different "Condition Rating 3" (serious) issues which the buyer was not aware of:

  1. A structural crack which needed further investigation/testing

    1. Note: The crack was consistent with foundation heave and the property was built in a location and year where Pyrite was an issue.

  2. An extension (conversion) which enclosed the kitchen and resulted in the kitchen not having a direct means of escape. This meant it was in breach of building regulations.

The vendor was unwilling to have testing carried out for pyrite and was unable to provider a cert for the extension (as none existed and could not be issuesd). As a result the buyer was forced to pull out of the sale.

This meant the buyer had spend over 5 months of their time on this property and were now back to the drawing board.

How could this have been avoided?

If the buyer had booked a survey soon after going sale agreed, they would likely have still ended up pulling out of the sale, but they would not have lost out on 4-5 months of time and could have been looking for other properties or already had once secured by now.


So remember, don't treat a survey like a box checking exercise and assume everything will be find. A surveyor is an expert in identifying defects and other issues and will find issues that you did not spot and sometime will find defects that even the vendor or estate agent is not aware of.

At we provide the most detailed surveys in the country that are designed to help you buy with confidence!


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