Home Surveyor Questions Explained

It is our experience that homeowners go into virtual panic mode when a home surveyor starts asking questions. This is humane but pretty silly and can be easily addressed if you follow a few simple guidelines.

So, you are selling your house. A buyer has been found and there is now a private appraiser or surveyor at your home. What happens now? The simple answer is to wait and see that the Assessor / Surveyor will ask questions if you wish. If not, perhaps the silence is golden.

A better answer is for you to take an element of control and start a dialogue. How could you do this?

Hello. Ahead. Maybe we can start by answering the questions I’m sure you have? Would you like a coffe? This is a wise and well-tested route.

So what exactly could those questions be?

The questions are naturally subdivided into several different categories, namely:

Q1. Tenure? Is the house wholly owned or leased? In case of a lease, what are the basic terms of the lease?

Q2. Are all the usual network services connected? Are only electricity and gas metered?

Q3. What private services are connected (if any)?

Q4. How old is the boiler and when was the last time it was professionally serviced? Can I see the certificate of service?

Q5. When was the wiring and plumbing provided and can I see a certification to verify this?

Q6. If it is a private drain, is the system shared and when was it last checked and / or emptied?

Q7. Have you had insurance claims and has the house been structurally propped up?

Q8. Has the plot or house ever been flooded?

Q9. Are there rights of way, easements, way-sheets, restrictive covenants?

Q10. What guarantees or warranties pass with the property and the service apparatus?

Q11. How old is the house?

Q12. Has it been modified, improved or expanded? Full details of each one please.

Q13. When were these jobs completed and who did it?

Q14. Did you obtain the necessary Consents and Permissions for each alteration and can we see the certification, plans, etc.?

Q15. Is the home in a conservation area, smoke control area, or other restrictive category?

Q16. Is the house a listed building?

Q17. Have special treatments or works been carried out (humidity, wall ties, radon gas, …)

Q18. Is the home designated under the Defective Premises Act?

Q19. What thermal and energy improvements have been made, when and by whom?

Q20. Are there trees on the site that have Conservation Orders?

Are these types of questions so overwhelming? If not, you probably don’t need any advice on how to answer them. However, if you find them difficult and you really don’t know the answers, I can suggest answers along these lines:

Q1 has several typical potential responses:

A1. I own a long-term lease that started in 1995 for 125 years with a land rent of 100 pa (British pounds) and current maintenance and service charges are estimated to be approximately 1,200 pa (British pounds) to be paid monthly per month due. I do not own a part of Freehold.

A2. I really do not know. Can I call my husband to see if he knows?

A3. It is transferred but I do not know the details.

A4. I don’t know, but if you call Joe Brown of Acme Management Company in Southampton on 9999 123456 they will tell you what you need to know.

Never say something that is not factual. Just say you don’t know. You can see from these four answers that any answer is good. However, if you lie, guess or provide inaccurate data, subsequent legal checks will detect your false answers and your credibility will suffer. The surveyor can review all the data you have provided, so your Buyer Survey Report could become unnecessarily pessimistic. In fact, your poor responses could make the difference between whether a buyer backs out or proceeds. Often times it is the perception of problems or irregularities that causes potential buyers to walk away.

Let me illustrate a perfect answer for Question 1:

I occupy under a long-term lease, but we own a prorated share of the Freehold that we collectively purchased last year. I have a copy of the lease here (keep it), but you’ll see that it was created in 1970 and had a 999-year term on a sliding rental floor.

The management is carried out through a Neighborhood Association of one person from each of the couples that occupy the six floors. For outside expertise, we consulted with PROinspect at Bishops Waltham. They advised that a sinking fund be created for the expected recovery of the flat top in two years and that fund is currently 3,000 (British pounds).

The building was assessed for asbestos hazards just two years ago and a copy of the certificate provided is here for you to keep.

The answer above assumes a high degree of understanding on the part of the non-legal resident and non-surveyor, but don’t worry if your answers would have been that you have no actual knowledge. The effect of your lack of knowledge is not serious; it simply means that the Surveyor will have to work a little harder and gather information from other sources, such as the Housing Information Package, the Realtor, or your Lawyer. Vague answers could have put him in the position of having to make a decision about the veracity of everything you said.

It may be biased, but I think for the little effort required to prepare, it can make the surveyors’ life so much easier that he will greatly appreciate it. Why make your buyers’ surveyor flinch at your brief negative responses when, with a little effort, you can walk away smiling because you have an easier life today? My advice: get ready.

In reality, the typical, average, standard household, primarily Freehold in England, will yield a simple 5-10 minute interview that is quite painless. It’s really not worth worrying about. However, it may be beneficial to speak with your agent and / or attorneys to obtain some basic information that is ready for the surveyor or appraisals.

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