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Architecture & Building Regulations News

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The Importance of a Building Survey


Most people wouldn’t dream of buying a second hand car without a mechanic’s report yet a recent Red C poll commissioned by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) shows that 6 out of 10 house-buyers did not get a survey done prior to the purchase.
The idea that 60 per cent of buyers wander blindly into what is probably the biggest financial commitment of their life shows a peculiar lack of concern for their personal finances.

This leap of faith by the purchaser is based probably on the manifestly false assumption that the architects report supplied to the bank to secure a mortgage is confirmation that the property is sound, and in good condition. It is no such thing, nor is it required to.
In reality, the lending institution whose multiple hoops you have just negotiated to get that mortgage has no interest in flaws or defects in a property.
The bank’s concern is solely that the valuation of the property is accurate and likely to withstand the elements for the duration of the mortgage. It is the mortgage that counts – at least for the lender.

Adding up the cost:
If you are borrowing, say, €200,000 to complement your €30,000 deposit, the lender’s survey needs only to reassure it that the property is worth €200,000, not €230,000.
For the sake of a few hundred euro, depending on the depth of the property inspection sought, you could know exactly what it is you propose to plough your hundreds of thousands of euro into. It could be the best money you’ll ever spend.
Hidden defects can cost thousands to repair and may include rising damp, pyrite, broken sewerage pipes or drains, flood risks, faulty wiring or a host of other headaches lurking behind that fresh lick of paint, plaster or wardrobe in the upstairs bedroom.
This rule of “let the buyer beware” applies also to newly built structures.

Peace of mind:
But what exactly can you expect from an independent and unbiased survey. After all, the seller of the property is unlikely to want people stripping away paintwork or digging up floorboards of their home when it is on the market.
A standard independent survey will general examine the main structural elements of a home – roofs, walls, floor and finishes inside and out. However, there will often be a caveat that an opinion cannot be given on parts of the building that are inaccessible or unexposed – such as under floorboards or timber cladding or in wall or ceiling linings – though a reliable architect or surveyor will expressly state what has been or cannot be vouched for.
An architect can also assess the property that you plan to purchase and give advice on its potential expansion possibilities.

The report will provide specific questions for purchasers to ask sellers, ideally in writing, before concluding a deal. If there are defects with the property and remedial works are necessary, a list of works can be drawn up as part of the report and a cost estimate prepared. This can be used as a negotiating tool between the buyer and the seller.

A general building survey will not normally test electrical, plumbing, heating or drainage installations but these elements can be investigated as an additional specialist service.

If you or your client is considering purchasing/selling a property and is interested in getting a building survey completed, feel free to contact McCabe Architects on 074 9743012 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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