Updated: Jul 17, 2022
So you're sale agreed and have booked a pre-purchase survey... But what kinds of questions should you ask your surveyor?
Well, let's start with why the basics! Why you are getting a survey complete...
In most cases, you will hire a surveyor to conduct a pre-purchase survey so you have an expert opinion on the property's condition and suitability for purchase. You can use this, along with advice from your solicitor and of course your own opinion to decide whether or not to proceed with the purchase and sign contracts or pull out of the sale.
Surveyors have seen literally thousands of properties and dealt with every possible kind of issue you can imagine. They also deal with people on the house-buying journey every day and so know the difficult process you are going through.
With this in mind, you should feel absolutely confident in asking the surveyor as many questions as necessary. In some cases they will be able to answer/advise, in others, they may recommend a further course of action. But either way, you are getting an expert opinion!
What type of questions can I ask the surveyor BEFORE the survey?
To check any planning docs or boundary maps.
If there has been any extension/conversion work to the property, your solicitor may have some planning docs. Your surveyor can review these and confirm if the works carried out on the property match the docs.
Likewise, if your solicitor provides the boundary map, your surveyor can review these while on-site and advise if the physical boundaries appear to match the map. They will also advise if any neighbouring buildings appear to be encroaching on the boundary.
You can read more about this here.
To explain/run through what they will be looking out for during the survey!
If it is your first time buying a property, you may have just been advised to get a pre-purchase survey and have no idea what a surveyor actually does! That is absolutely fine and most first-time buyers will be in the same boat.
Although we do our best to explain on our site and blog what a survey actually involves, don't be afraid to ask your surveyor to run through it. This will really let their experience and expertise shine and give you extra peace of mind about the whole process!
To check any specific issues/concerns you spotted on your own viewing.
If during your viewing you spotted any damp, mould, cracking or anything else which does not look right, you can mention this to your surveyor.
It may simply be an old water stain or even some non-serious surface cracking of plaster or paint which is not a cause for concern. But your surveyor will be happy to spend a little extra time on these to make sure your concerns are addressed.
What type of questions can I ask the surveyor AFTER the survey?
To explain any element of the written report.
In most cases, we make our written reports as easy as possible to follow. However, there may be some words or phrases you have not come across before and want more information on. In this case, always give your surveyor a call and ask them to run through it with you. They will be happy to help!
More detail on any recommended course of action.
If during the survey a surveyor identifies an issue but is unable to identify the cause through the scope of a survey, they may recommend a further course of action. This could be testing, a specific structural examination, CCTV inspections etc.
Or they may simply recommend some standard maintenance. e.g. if there is no service record for a gas/oil boiler, they may recommend a service to take place.
It is important you know if this is an urgent cause for concern, or simply a recommendation of something which should be done in the near future.
To hurry up with the written report!
This may seem a little pushy, but in our opinion, you should not be left waiting more than 1-2 days for your written report. The more time which passes after a surveyor attends a property, the more detail they will forget before they sit down to write the report.
In addition, you need this report to keep things with the sale moving. If there is any follow-up needed you'll want to get that arranged ASAP. You don't want your survey to be a bottleneck for the sale progress.
We would always recommend giving your surveyor 1-2 days to complete the written report, but after this, you are absolutely entitled to ask them to hurry it up!
Their overall opinion and "would they buy the property themselves?"
In the written report, the surveyor will give their overall opinion, but it never hurts to have a quick chat with them!
When we purchased our home 4 years ago, our written report described the property as "Fit for habitation and purchase with no urgent causes for concern". I had a chat with our surveyor afterwards and he said that "his daughter was currently looking at houses and if she was viewing this one he would happily tell her to go ahead and buy it".
Even though he did not tell me anything which was not on the report, just hearing these words out of his mouth gave us much more confidence in moving on!
This is not an exhaustive list. Every single property is different and every sale is different so never be afraid to ask your surveyor anything which you are not sure about!
Or, please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions on firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if you are not getting your survey with us we are always happy to help and advise where we can. We've all been through the house buying here and we are very passionate about helping others out wherever we can!