RICS Homebuyers Reports – A case study of a 3 bed semi-detached home in Burton Upon Trent.
We were commissioned to provide a RICS Level 2 HomeBuyers Report (HBR) on a property of unknown age in the Burton-upon-Trent area. Burton-upon-Trent, like many counties has a Derbyshire postcode, yet sits within the remits of Staffordshire.
The purchaser was interested to know the age of the property and this was estimated by the surveyor to be circa 1950 from the design and construction materials used.
All surveys will provide details of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) where is it is available. In the case of this particular property, it had been fitted with photovoltaic panels (that’s solar panels to most!). These will always be given a condition rating of 3 – requires immediate attention. Surveyors are not permitted to test electrics. The Electrical Safety Council recommend that these tests be carried out by a Registered Electrician.
As the lion’s share of our surveys are completed within the counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire, the surveyor will sometimes write in the front pages of the survey report that the property is in “an area where coal mining activity has, or still is taking place” and “the property is in an area that has historically been affected by mining activity that could affect the property and its grounds”. Although these warnings should never be ignored – it is commonplace within the East Midlands counties to have survey reports with this information in. It means that your surveyor will pay attention to any signs of movement within the fabric of the building.
One of the areas that required attention and was the chimney stack. It should be noted that surveys are carried out at ground level only. We would be taken to task by Health and Safety if we had our surveyors on ladders in all weather, therefore a comprehensive inspection of a chimney or roof area can be limited. If you have any specific concerns regarding this area, we would recommend adding the usage of a pole camera to your survey. A pole camera can provide additional images of inaccessible areas such as the roof, chimneys, guttering, etc. It does carry a small extra charge but can be worth it if you have any suspicion.
Another area that was given a red level 3 rating was the external brickwork. There was some evidence of settlement cracks. Although this may initial seem alarming it is important to read if your surveyor has mentioned if this settlement is historic or ongoing. In this case, the movement was historic and required minor localised raking and pointing in a suitable mortar to ensure weather tightness. In many cases, the settlement can be due to replacement windows being fitted.
One of the final issues – which again can be worrying, but is very common, is misting to the windows. This should not be confused with condensation on the outside of windows, which can occur during Spring and Autumn and is due to temperature changes. Misting inside the double-glazed unit occurs when the seal is broken (failed). This misting will cause heat to be lost, thereby making energy bills higher. The quick solution for this to replace the glass unit. That doesn't mean that the whole frame needs to come out! Just the affected glass units only. You may be lucky and find that the vendor has the paperwork to prove that the double-glazing is still under warranty. If that is the case, ensure that you or your legal representative check to see if that warranty is transferable. If not, then it may be worth asking if the vendor can arrange this work to be carried out prior to the sale.
As the purchaser in this case, was a first-time buyer, she asked that her surveyor call and run through the report in a scheduled call. This was arranged and after some reassurance she proceeded with the sale, after renegotiating the property price with the vendor due to the above issues.