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When should we book our survey on a second hand house?

Updated: May 23, 2023

This one catches a lot of first time buyers out! When should you book a survey? Before you bid? After your offer is accepted? When you sign contracts? In 99% of cases, you should book your survey as early as possible when you are sale agreed and after you have spoken with your solicitor.

A visual timeline showing when you should book a pre purchase survey when buying a house or apartment
When do I book a Survey if buying a second hand home?


Good question! You want to ensure you get the most value out of your survey and get the timing right to ensure it keeps the process moving along.

Why not before Sale Agreed or before I bid on the property?

This can seem to make sense on the surface, after all, why would you bid on a property if you don't yet know the full condition?

Well, if you survey a property before you go sale agreed, you run the risk of being outbid and then you are out of pocket for the fee you paid for a survey.

If every person had a survey complete before they bid on a property, it would mean great business for us! But it would be a very costly situation for every bidder who's offer was not accepted by the buyer.

Wait until you are Sale Agreed before booking a survey!

Why not book a survey after you sign contracts?

Another good question. Shouldn't you wait until the vendor is committed to the sale before you pay money for a survey?

Again, that may seem logically sound, but remember you are also committed to the purchase once you sign contracts. So if the surveyor identifies a serious issues with the structure, you still have to buy the property at the contracted price.

If the surveyor does identify issues, you need to have the ability to walk away if they are not issues you want to take on!

Why should you book EARLY in the sale agreed process?

A lot of buyers leave it to the week or days before signing contracts before hiring a surveyor. While in a lot of cases, if the surveyor does not identify any serious issues, this may work out, the issues arise when the surveyor does identify a serious issues. Here are a couple of examples:

Example 1: Structural Issues Imagine the property is being surveyed a few days before you sign contracts. Then the surveyor identifies the roof timbers are rotten, and the property will likely require a new roof. While you are getting quotes for a new roof and potentially trying to renegotiate the purchase price to cover these costs, the contract signing gets pushed out.

Example 2: Legal Issues Another case could be the surveyor identifying a potential legal issues. Say the surveyor identified a front porch has been added to the property after it was originally constructed. The porch is approx 6 sq meters and so will need planning permission. You're solicitor will then need to chase this up with the vendor. If no planning permission is in place, or if it did have planning but needs a certificate of compliance with planning, this can take weeks or even months to resolve.

If either of these examples were discovered early in the sale agreed process, they would likely have been resolved by the time it comes to contracts and so the sale does not get delayed by nearly as much time.

Why should you speak with your solicitor first?

When you engage a solicitor after going sale agreed, they will start the process of ensuring the property is legally sound for you to purchase. Part of this process involves ensuring there are no issues with the boundary or planning.

If the solicitor wants to ensure the boundary looks correct. They will provide a land registry map for the surveyor to review while on site. The surveyor will visually inspect the boundaries and highlight any issues for the attention of the solicitor.

Likewise, if there have been any alterations (extensions, conversions, porches, garages etc.) to the property since it was built. The solicitor may request an opinion from the surveyor as to whether or not those alterations need a certificate of compliance with planning or a certificate of exemption with planning. The solicitor may also provide these certs for the surveyor ensure they match the works carried out to the property.

If these requests come in after the survey has already been conducted, there would likely be an additional charge if the surveyor needs to revisit the property.

Are there any exception to this?

Of course! Every single situation is different and there is no "one rule fits all". The most common exceptions with this are:

1: Auction Properties

When you are bidding on a property at auction, there is no "Sale Agreed" phase. Once you are the winning bidder, you are committed to buying the property. Because of this, it is recommended you have your solicitor review the legal pack provided by the agent before bidding and if you are unsure of the condition, you should also get a surveyor before you bid at auction.

The risk here is of course not winning the auction and losing out on the fee paid for a survey.

2: Solicitor Requests Waiting

There are times when the solicitor advises holding off on a survey until they have received all documents. Perhaps they are waiting for a land reg map they want the surveyor to check or a certificate of exemption for an extension.

Or maybe there are just some grey areas and they want to wait to make sure there is nothing they need the surveyor to check while at the site.

Either way, solicitors know what they are doing and are also on your side! So it is advisable to hold off until they give the go ahead.

The risk here is the same as above. If you leave it late in the sale agreed process and the surveyor identifies issues which need further investigation, you run the risk of delaying singing contracts and ultimately the purchase. Or if an issues is discovered which would cause you to pull out of the purchase, you would have invested a lot of time which you could have been using looking at other properties!


At our surveys have dedicated sections for anything your legal advisor needs to be aware of. This ensures communicate is clear and fast!

We also have the fastest turnaround time in Ireland and offer upfront pricing so you don't need to go calling around for quotes!

To book, just go to and click on "Get Survey Now".


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