Whether you’re a first-time buyer or you’re looking for your next dream home, waiting for your homebuyer survey results can be a nerve-wracking time. The property purchasing process is filled with uncertainties, so it’s understandable to feel concerned about the prospect of a negative survey.  

If your house survey does show up some issues, don’t panic. It may not mean the end of your journey with this particular property. Read on to discover how to deal with a negative house survey and what steps to take next. 

What is a house survey? 

Once you’ve had an offer accepted on a property, you’ll want to hire a building surveyor to look at the building and check for any structural issues that could affect the value or your property experience.  

There are three different types of house survey: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. It’s important to organise the one best suited to your property’s age and condition.  

Learn more about each level and work out which one you need in our guide to different home surveys

Common problems that can show up during a property survey 

When a building surveyor checks a property, they’ll be looking for signs of major issues including: 

  • Damp – they’ll be on the lookout for condensation, rising damp, or penetrating damp. Often, damp is treatable but identifying and sorting it can be costly.  
  • Rot or damage to structural timber – rotten timber could put your building’s structure at risk so it’s important to get it sorted. Again, this can be expensive to fix. 
  • Subsidence – this is when the foundations of a building shift and begin to sink. Even if fixed, subsidence can make insurance more expensive. If you suspect your property has subsidence, you’ll need to make sure you get a full Level 3 structural survey
  • Japanese knotweed – because of its long roots, Japanese knotweed can cause damage that may impact your mortgage and insurance terms. 
  • Unsafe wiring – rewiring a property is a big, and often expensive, job. It may cause delays to the moving process or, if you wait until you’ve moved in, it could be disruptive.  

A negative property survey: what to do next 

Has your surveyor identified any of the above issues?  

Get full details from your building surveyor

Firstly, make sure you get all the details from your surveyor. They should be able to talk you through the report and explain whether it’s a minor or major problem. They can also advise you on the next steps. 

Find out how much it would cost to fix the issue 

If you still want to proceed with buying the property, it’s important to get some quotes so you can budget for it. Can you still afford the purchase? You may really love the house or flat but don’t risk it if the costs will put you at risk of debt.  It is important to put into context the cost of rectifying the defect, and weigh it up against the total cost of buying the house, or the cost of renting for another few months. Pulling out may be disappointing but it could also save you a lot of stress and money. 

Consider negotiating the property price 

If it looks like fixing the issues will cost a significant amount of money, you could also speak to the seller and try to renegotiate the sale price. You might suggest that you’ll go ahead with the sale if the vendor can knock off the repair costs. Whilst the vendor may be hesitant to reduce their offer, it is likely that will be brought up again for them on any subsequent sale if you withdraw.

Homebuyer survey options from Torus 

As experienced RICS surveyors, the team at Torus can offer all levels of house surveys to give you peace of mind and help you move forward with your property purchase. Feel free to get in touch with any questions or to book a homebuyer survey.