Home is where the heart is they say. But the head must surely lead. This was my lesson from my last renovation. Less of a project and more of a labour of love. And laboured we did! 

I’m Ben, a trainee surveyor and homeowner. Here to write about the need for a consumer paradigm shift when it comes to our understanding of home surveys, or lack thereof. We all want an easier life and to save a few quid right? Then pull up a pew and lend me your ear!

In 2017 my wife and I bought a garden flat in South East London in need of a total overhaul. We had negotiated well we believed and secured the flat for 25k under the asking price and the vendor was anxious to complete.

Like the overwhelming majority in the UK we proceeded, believing the mortgage providers valuation ‘survey’ would suffice. Indeed the agent was keen to assure us of just that: that a level 3 building survey would be time and money spent in vain, so we pushed on and riding on our own excitement and the agents downplaying of the latter; we exchanged.

What then unravelled cost us £15,000 in avoidable costs plus a good deal of stress. 

Once in the property I was able to further scrutinise all the elements of our purchase. We found the Victorian sash windows to be beyond repair. Some were so dilapidated they had been nailed shut! The unscrupulous seller had hidden sizeable old vent holes in the wall behind furniture and worst of all the bathroom roof was beginning to swell as winter set in.

One day whilst using the bathroom a section of that roof collapsed, bringing down a nest of Red Wood Ants with it that proceeded to run amok like some kind of insect circus. Just as well it was me as my wife is no fan of creepy crawlies. This was a real low point but it was no use crying over split milk/ants!

As our family grew and we moved out some two years later, having completed the project; the costs to put right these defects ended up being our would be profit margin. What could’ve been a healthy ROI was spent on rotten windows and an infested, sodden bathroom roof. We broke even and the ordeal nearly broke us!

Fast forward a few years and having learnt a valuable lesson, we conversely just saved 5k from the agreed sale price on our more recent purchase; this time having conducted a level 3 building survey. 

Amazingly the vast majority of buyers like us in 2017 confuse or conflate lenders valuation reports with building surveys and thus miss a trick. An omission that can prove costly in time, money and well-being, just as we learnt. 

To further illustrate this point through our more recent purchase: our banks valuation for the mortgage was actually conducted remotely, online! A major surveying firm and they didn’t even come within a mile of the property! Reckless grounds to proceed if you ask me.

Gold Crest don’t focus on valuations, instead we concentrate all of our energies on helping you make the right move through comprehensive homebuyers reports and structural surveys so you can put your best foot forward at the negotiation table and protect your precious pound!

Ben C, trainee surveyor. 

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