• Alaine Bradbury

Buying Without a Survey #tip2

Don’t calculate your costs without a survey, even when your buying cash! I’ve seen it too many times, as much as you know about buildings, or your relying on your builder mate giving in the one two’ just get one done, because you can always miss something.

That feeling when you didn’t get one done to only discover hidden costs like damp, rot, subsidence or other major structural defects until it is too late is awful.

Find out as much about a property as possible before you buy, that way your costs are accurate.

I know the word survey can bring up a myriad of other questions but the RICS website offers loads of great guidance on the different ones available;

RICS surveyors offer three 'levels' of survey: a Condition Report (level one), Homebuyer Report (level two) and Building Survey (level three)

Don’t confuse a mortgage valuation with a building survey. A proper survey undertaken by a Chartered Building Surveyor will provide information on the type of construction and materials used, and will give details of any defects, suggested remedy and an indication of cost. They will also tell you if you need more specialist knowledge and even more surveys.


I bought a 300 year old barn conversion a few years ago, the building survey mentioned getting more surveys, damp and timber reports and argh it was a headache at the time and took up all my focus. Delaying completion when all I wanted to do was get started.

The report also flagged up the land ¾ acre on various levels, I loved the garden and thought others would too. I’d naively thought that when letting out the property I’d appeal to a tenant with a green finger, I did BUT needless to say the surveyor was right to flag it as high maintenance, the tenants just couldn’t keep up.

I hadn’t factored that in despite the survey flag, I’d been so focused on the timbers. It also affected my relationship with the neighbours, they weren’t happy with it being so overgrown, it affected my tenants, feeling overwhelmed and annoyed by me mentioning it on every single inspection visit.

With the garden looking overgrown throughout each tenancy and at the end of the tenancy, having to spend hundreds of pounds getting it to a decent state again to re let I was often overwhelmed, I finally decided to take on the skills of a local gardener to manage the ground work. I initially oversaw the issue to my detriment, I had to go back and build the cost into the rent and out of my cash flow. Did it affect my cashflow negatively, yes for the first twelve months! So the lesson learned here; its not all damp and rots surveys flag.

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