Buying a Flat? You’ll Still Need a Building Survey

Let’s face it, when it comes to buying a property there aren’t too many corners that can be cut along the way. For the most part, the process is set, with each step reliant on the previous one.

Block of flats

Buying a flat doesn’t mean no building survey is required

A flat may seem an easier purchase than a house and, if yours is a first-floor flat, you could be forgiven for querying whether you need a building survey at all. Obviously, a top-floor flat comes with extra concerns – you’d want to be confident of the condition of the roof before exchanging contracts. Likewise, if you’re planning to buy a basement or ground-floor flat you’d probably order a building survey to check for signs of damp, subsidence and the like. But anywhere in between is surely good to go, isn’t it? Wrong!

Yes, you can argue that the building’s maintenance and any structural issues will be taken care of by the management company. Unfortunately, in our experience it simply isn’t that straightforward. And if work is required it is likely that you will end up paying for it through your monthly or annual service charge contributions.

So doesn’t it make sense to know exactly the condition of the flat you’re buying before you discover that you’ve moved into a money pit?

At home-approved we will check the condition of the flat itself, carrying out the same checks as for a house. Similarly, we will inspect the exterior for any structural issues that might impact upon your flat. This includes the condition of the external brickwork, roof and gutters . Whilst you might not be buying the top flat, and any problem with the roof will only immediately affect the top floor, the leasehold may well stipulate that all leaseholders are equally responsible for funding roof repairs and the like. We won’t have access to the other flats to check their condition, but if we see an external problem, we’ll be confident of what’s going on inside.

In the event that issues become apparent during the survey, our report will clearly explain how major or minor they are, the priority order in which they should be dealt with and the likely associated costs. Whilst major problems may lead you to withdraw from the purchase, others may not. In this case, our report will help you assess whether the service charge levied by the management company is likely to be sufficient to fund the repairs, and if indeed the company has existing funds in place for remedial work.

The building survey report will give you the information you need to discuss with your solicitor, who will then send questions to the management company – questions that may never have cropped up if you didn’t have a building survey.

If you’re buying a flat in Surrey or London, why not get in touch with home-approved to find out more about our building surveying services. We’ll help make sure you buy your dream home not a nightmare flat.

Call us on 0800 980 3113 or email info@home-approved.com.

Sample building report

See home-approved’s example building survey report.