Peace of mind

We talk to the KFH surveying team who help buyers make property transactions as smooth as possible.

12 July, 2022

Approximately 70% of home buyers do not ask for a survey before buying a property that will cost them, o­ften, many hundreds of thousands of pounds. This is a hangover from the days when many buyers relied on lenders’ mortgage valuation to pick up any significant defects. But this is no longer the case; unless it’s a nonstandard property, lenders these days are only interested in a property’s value and whether it meets their lending criteria.

“So it’s essential for buyers to get their own survey if they want peace of mind, particularly given the rising cost of property and the huge expense of fixing problems such as damp, subsidence or a leaking roof after you’ve moved in,” says Lynne Hawkins, Director of KFH Chartered Surveyors and Professional Services. “We’re a safety net.”

Sean Goodfellow, who has worked for the KFH surveying team for many years, says not every home owner has the time to keep tabs on shabby guttering, missing roof tiles or those growing black patches in the corners of some rooms.

“These are some of the most common problems we pick up; less common are structural movement due to subsidence or dry rot due to a lack of ventilation. But unless you get a survey, you’ll never know what could need fixing.”

Goodfellow says the most extreme case he’s come across was an attic within a listed building that had been sprayed with the wrong kind of insulation foam, which had then trapped moisture within the roof and led to major structural timber defects. “It meant the whole roof needed replacing – which was obviously going to be expensive,” he says.

Which survey?

The majority of Chartered Surveyors use the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) three approved surveys, which use an easy-to-digest ‘traffic light’ system to help people understand potential defects. These are:

Level 1

A visual inspection that’s the least comprehensive and does not include tests on building fabric or services, and is designed for a conventional property in ‘reasonable condition’.

Level 2

A more comprehensive visual inspection, but still without physical tests of materials or services, and available with or without a valuation.

Level 3

This is the most comprehensive and probing test and is designed for larger, non-standard, older or run-down properties.

Lynne Hawkins says her team offers a wide range of services both to the UK’s leading lenders, home buyers and sellers, as well as helping evaluate short leases, all within London and the home counties. “All of our surveyors are regulated by and registered with RICS,” she adds.

Peace of mind - Kinleigh, Folkard & Hayward

Things to look for when viewing a property

Here are a few tips from the KFH team on how to spot potential problems during those early property viewings, and highlight why surveys are so important.

  1. 1


    Look at the exterior walls and in particular the areas around windows and doors to check for cracks or distortion, both of which can indicate structural movement.

  2. 2


    Has the property been altered or extended including loft conversions and extensions? These may have required Local Authority consents and Building Regulation approval. Other changes that should be noted include the removal of chimney breasts and internal walls.

  3. 3


    Roofs are expensive to replace or repair so look for undulating roof slopes and missing tiles or slates, which can be down to old age or because a roof was replaced with a covering too heavy for the joists.

  4. 4


    Signs of mould growth or a musty smell should be a concern, but can be merely down to poor ventilation/heating – or something much more serious and expensive to resolve.

  5. 5


    Uneven and/or bouncy floorboards can signify more serious problems – either significant floor slab movement or dry rot to supporting timbers.

  6. 6


    An aged boiler or hot water tank can cost thousands of pounds to replace, but they’re easy to spot. Upgrading to electrical systems can also be expensive and disruptive to carry out. Ask to see servicing and installation paperwork certifications and guarantees.

  7. 7

    Habitable rules

    To get approved for a mortgage, a home must be watertight and have running water, electricity and a usable kitchen and bathroom amongst other things. Lending is restricted and offered on less favourable terms for ‘uninhabitable properties’.

Get in touch

If you have any questions or need a survey conducted on your property, get in contact with the surveying team.