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What is a Structural Survey?

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A Structural Survey is created to evaluate a property’s structure. Whether you’re planning to renovate or a property survey has been recommended, a Structural Survey will give you an idea of any structural issues.

In this guide, we will discuss the differences between a Structural Survey, a Full Structural Survey, and a Building Survey. Furthermore, we will provide information on what is included in the survey and when you may need one.

Table of Contents

What is Meant by a Structural Survey?

A structural survey is a way to assess the structural integrity of a property. Structural engineers are tasked with determining if it is safe to live on the property, as well as providing details about the required work.

This survey can be used to identify potential risks before they become too serious and to make an informed decision about renovations and repairs.

When purchasing a property, a chartered surveyor will often suggest a Structural Survey so that a structural engineer can give more insight into the structure of the building.

What is a Full Structural Survey?

A Full Structural Survey is the former name for the Level 3 Building Survey. If you’re looking for a Full Structural Survey, you may see results for a Building Survey or RICS Home Survey Level 3.

This survey is designed for older properties and will provide you with a comprehensive report of any problems with the structure and condition of the property.

What is a Structural Survey
Structural engineers are tasked with determining if it is safe to live on the property, as well as providing details about the required work.

What is the Difference Between a Building Survey and a Structural Survey?

Many people mix up a Structural Survey with a Building Survey, but these are two distinct surveys.

  1. The Building Survey is a property inspection carried out before buying a property. It gives a thorough inspection and report on the condition and structure of the property. This must be done by a surveyor who is accredited by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
  2. A Structural Survey is done by a structural engineer who looks at the integrity of the structure in more detail. Usually, this is a survey recommended by your property surveyor. Structural engineers are regulated by The Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) and The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

What are other Types of Structural Survey?

Many types of surveys look at a property’s structure. The most popular are:

  • A Specific Defect Survey evaluates particular issues with a property’s structure. These issues are typically identified in a HomeBuyer Survey or Building Survey and require further examination.
  • A Building Survey may act as a preliminary Structural Survey, conducted by a RICS chartered surveyor. If more assessment is needed, a structural engineer should be consulted.
  • A HomeBuyers Report (level 2) does not examine a property’s structure, but it gives a thorough overview of its condition.

Who Needs a Structural Survey?

  1. Homeowners may need a Structural Survey for a variety of reasons, such as extending or renovating their property. This could involve removing a chimney breast, altering internal walls, installing solar panels, changing doors or windows, and underpinning floors that have been affected by subsidence.
  2. If the property you are buying has structural issues that are highlighted in the survey, the surveyor might suggest that you get a Structural Survey.
  3. If you and your neighbour are in disagreement over a structural issue on your property, a structural engineer can provide an impartial opinion to help resolve the problem.
What Does a Structural Survey Include
If you need a Structural Survey after getting your Building Survey report, you'll have to pay for it.

What Does a Structural Survey Include?

When buying a property, you may be required to provide your survey report to a structural engineer for further investigation. The engineer will inspect the structure of the building, looking for cracks, roof problems, and any signs of water damage.

They will also assess the plumbing and electrical systems and may need to take a closer look at the issue, which may require some intrusive measures.

For homeowners looking to convert their property, the structural engineer will take measurements to provide accurate drawings. For those looking to build, the engineer will provide detailed drawings and plans to hand off to a building contractor.

Who Pays for a Structural Survey?

If you need a Structural Survey after getting your Building Survey report, you’ll have to pay for it. Although it’s not compulsory to follow your surveyor’s advice, it’s highly recommended due to their extensive experience and expertise.

How Much Does a Structural Survey Cost?

Structural engineers typically charge around £100 per hour. The cost of a Structural Survey depends on the complexity of the project, the need for planning permission, the location of the property, and the size and type of property.

Factors such as the complexity of the project and what the engineer is appraising during the survey can also influence the price.

  • Location
  • Size
  • Type of property

These are all taken into consideration. Planning permission may also be a factor.

Average House Survey Costs in the UK
It's always a good idea to get a complete report on a property's structure before buying it or planning any renovations.

Average House Survey Costs in the UK

The average cost of a UK house survey varies from £380 to £800, depending on the type of survey selected.

Is a Structural Survey Worth it?

It’s always a good idea to get a complete report on a property’s structure before buying it or planning any renovations. Although it may seem like an unnecessary expense, it can save you money in the long run by allowing you to identify and repair any issues before they become bigger problems.

Common issues found during a structural survey

There are many issues found in a property survey that can be easily resolved, but it’s important to read the recommended repairs and maintenance advice to understand the severity of each problem. Common issues include:

  • Poor ventilation or damp issues can require a lot of work when combined with inadequate ventilation.
  • Older buildings often lack proper ventilation or protection, making damp issues quite common. Structural movement happens when integral parts of the building that give strength and stability shift.
  • Roofs, floors, walls, frameworks and foundations may bulge, crack, expand or contract, which can put the property at risk if the movement is severe.
  • Japanese knotweed is a fast-growing plant that causes damage to properties by targeting weak structural points. Its thick roots can invade and worsen masonry cracks and mortar joints.
  • Electrical issues can range from minor to needing full rewiring, while faulty drain pipes can cause water pooling and water damage.
  • Asbestos, which was banned in 1999, can still be found in buildings built before then and should be removed by a specialist.
  • Roof issues, such as poor installation, ponding water, and slipped slates, can become serious without proper maintenance. It’s important to look at the roof as a whole and consider the impact it may have on the property in the future.
Different types of homebuyer survey
A condition report looks at the state of a property and identifies possible risks, urgent defects, and potential legal issues.

What happens after a structural survey?

If the report has revealed any issues with the property or the surveyor has valued it lower than what you offered, you may want to negotiate the price of your new home.

The report will help you to decide which issues are the most pressing by assigning a traffic light system based on the severity of the issues.

This part of the process can be stressful, but once it is sorted out, you can contact your mortgage lender and solicitor to take the next step. At this stage, you will get the final contract to sign and close the deal.

Different types of homebuyer survey

If you don’t feel the need to get a full structural survey due to cost or because you’re moving into a newer property, other cheaper property reports can still be useful when evaluating your home.

These include a condition report, a homebuyer report, and more.

  1. A condition report looks at the state of a property and identifies possible risks, urgent defects, and potential legal issues. It doesn’t provide any advice or valuation and usually costs around £250.
  2. A homebuyer report is suitable for modern properties in decent condition and usually costs around £400. It looks at structural problems like subsidence and damp but doesn’t look beyond surface-level issues.

To Summarise..

Structural surveys can be intimidating, but it’s worth spending a bit extra to get a detailed report so that you know exactly what you’re buying. If you need more information or help, don’t hesitate to seek guidance.

Or, if you’re looking to purchase or sell a property quickly, reach out to our knowledgeable team at Property Saviour today!

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