A thorough structural survey is a must particularly when purchasing a second hand property. The basis legal rule which applies when buying such a property is caveat emptor or buyer beware.
It is important to note that there is no duty on the Vendor to disclose any physical defects in a property for sale thus if same are not picked up prior to a Contract being executed the financial consequences for a Purchaser can be severe.
A survey can also assist when ascertaining if any issues arise relating to compliance with planning legislation. There is a growing tendency for solicitors particularly in receiver or mortgagee in possession sales to restrict or delete out the Law Society general condition dealing with warranties relating to planning matters. In these cases it is vital to ascertain if there has been work carried out to a property and if same is compliant with planning legislation. If this is not picked up the purchaser could be left with the bill for the works required to ensure compliance with planning law.
In the event that you are obtaining loan financing to acquire your property your bank will insist that a valuer from its panel carries out an inspection/survey to obtain a valuation of the property. This however is not a proper survey and cannot be relied upon to ensure that any possible defect or issues are picked up pre-Contract.
Although a survey is recommended in relation to new builds particularly in light of a multitude of issues which have arisen in recently built developments, there will (or at least should be) an extra degree of protection for buyers as the purchaser’s rights and remedies will be governed by the terms, conditions and warranties set out in the building contract. In addition new homes will usually be covered by one of the building guarantee schemes (Homebond, Premier Guarantee) which will offer a form of protection against major structural defects for a defined period of time. A survey in respect of a newly built home is also useful when preparing a snag list in terms of items that need to be attended to or finalized prior to the sale closing.
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