Building Surveying
Apr 26, 2024

Building Survey Examples: Informed Decision-Making

For buyers in the UK real estate market, building surveys have become an integral part of the process of buying properties..

For buyers in the UK real estate market, building surveys have become an integral part of the process of buying properties. Official statistics from the Office for National Statistics show that there are signs of recovery in the UK housing market with house prices increasing at the end of 2023 for the first time in four months. This rise followed a period where mortgage rates were low thereby boosting demand from buyers.

Recent industry data suggests that property sales and demand have risen across the UK, with new sales agreed up by 17% in December 2023 compared to last year. Nevertheless, Scotland and Northern Ireland continue to experience slight price increases while London and other southern regions experienced declines in prices.

What are the Different Types of Building Survey Examples?

There are several types of building surveys offered according to various goals. Some building survey examples include the following:

HomeBuyer Survey for a Residential Property

A Level 2 survey (also called a HomeBuyer Survey) is suitable for newer buildings which appear to be fine. It looks at how good condition the building is as well as its structure to point out any issues arising. It offers information on its present condition along with legal needs-related advice and must also expose emergency defects.

Building Survey for a Historical Building Renovation Project

A Level 3 or Full Building Survey is usually appropriate for older properties requiring renovation works but can also be suitable for new build which come with their own construction defects. The whole of the property is covered, including basements and lofts. The building survey is adapted to the specific property and it picks up on visual faults and sometimes hidden issues which need specialist investigation. A building survey discussed the construction and materials used while giving advice on maintenance, which is especially useful when carrying out major structural work or dealing with special features.

How Long Does a Building Survey Typically Take?

The length of time a building survey takes depends largely on factors such as type of survey or size and condition of property among others. For example, a Homebuyer Surveys can take 2 to 4 hours long, whilst a Full Building Survey could last between 3-5 hours due to its more detailed nature.

After the survey, there is usually a period of waiting for the surveyor to complete the report. For HomeBuyer Surveys this is typically between 2 and 3 working days whereas for Building Surveys it can be 4 to 5 working days.

Please note that this may vary depending on the type of survey and the workload of an individual surveyor. Surveyors may also require additional time for investigating and reporting complex defects depending on property condition.

Case Studies - Structural Survey Example

Case Study 1: Residential Property 

A flat converted from a castle required a full building survey. It involved a detailed examination of all aspects of the property including structural integrity, architectural features and overall state.

Furthermore, stone roundels and window mullions which may need special attention due to their historical and architectural significance are inspected in detail. By critically looking at these elements, the building surveyor can identify any damage, rotting or declining quality which may affect their structural wholeness or aesthetic values.

Challenges were encountered in reaching the voids and old mill races beneath the building. The history of the property was revealed by the surveyor through close work with the client and careful pre-inspection research into its condition as well as long-term maintenance issues.

This level of study gave an insight into maintenance needs and historical resilience thereby highlighting the importance of detailed full building surveys for such unique properties.

Case Study 2: Industrial Warehouse Assessment

A research paper examined one case study on the assessment of a warehouse building partly damaged by fire. A study investigated the technical condition and repair of steel structure elements after fire destruction.

The findings indicated difficulties associated with checking the structure of a warehouse after it had been hit by fire. It gave information on repair and maintenance of steel structures emphasising how important structural surveys are for industrial places, especially when unexpected events like fires occur.

Case Study 3: New Home Purchase 

There was a Level 2 Building Survey (HomeBuyers Report) on a purpose-built flat. Since this was a newly built property the chances are that it would be less prone to having any structural problems because builders have to follow stricter building regulations hence there are less likely to be defects as compared to other buildings. Beware, however, new build properties can still come with their own issues, given that costs in construction have risen over the years and developers may try to cut corners. 

Many developers may therefore break rules in order to save money due to the increased prices of construction materials and pressure from deadlines, resulting in defective properties being sold at prohibitive costs. On average every house has 157 defects according to figures from BuildScan. The Home Builders Federation (HBF) said that 94% of new-build homeowners identify at least one defect after completion.

Therefore, to save £50 by going for the cheaper Level 2 survey instead of a thorough building survey might be false economy.

Making the Right Decision

In the field of building surveying, building survey reports are vital to clients in buying property. They indicate where improvements are needed and aid better decision-making in the home-buying process, particularly in respect of budgeting for repairs and maintenance.