Hiring a Surveyor: What should I pay & what should he check?

Don’t recall a thread on this before. I’ve never hired a surveyor before so have all the usual questions.

I’d likely look for 3 quotes before deciding on who to go with.

What should I ensure the surveyor checks?

Is there a standard list somewhere online?

What specifically won’t they check? I’m guessing there will be some things your average joe soap assumes they look at but they don’t.

I was phoning around for quotes a few weeks ago. One guy was promising the earth, saying that he’d look at the electrics and plumbing for me, among other things - when I asked him what exactly he’d be doing he said he’d look at the fusebox to guess the age. Fantastic.

As a general rule of thumb, they won’t look at anything that requires tools to open. They may request that an engineer’s report is obtained for any structural changes in the house - they won’t do an engineering assessment on the spot.

It’s nice if you can get out on site on the same day as the surveyor, but this is at the vendor’s discretion. You’ll likely need to ask the EA if they’re cool with that.

The crowd I used are below:

propertyhealthcheck.ie/

I’m not affiliated with them in any way, I was just happy that they were very straightforward to deal with, without any hard sell or dancing around the issue of money. There’s a fair bit in the report, and it looks comprehensive, but a) I’m not qualified to say if it’s actually any good and b) I won’t know for certain if they caught everything until I’ve moved in for a bit. Looks good though.

propertyhealthcheck.ie/ has a free sample report and generally gets recommended here (would have used them if I reached SA back in 2013).

Property check quoted me €400 + vat (23%) about 18 months ago.
Another QS quoted me €750 + vat. Taking the piss. Think he was recommended on here. If his name crops up I’ll counter it.

QS I went with was €500 + vat was recommended by solicitor. Knew his stuff and both the solicitor and QS helped me avoid a moneypit.

Was quoted 400 plus VAT this week by a guy recommended by a friend. Surveyor teaches/examines the DIT course so presumably is of good standard.

You should just use propertyhealthcheck.

Having spent >800 on a detailed survey of a largeish house (by property health check) recently I think I would approach things it a bit differently next time.

Three things I care about:

  1. Are there any really significant structural problems? Like >20k and/or massive disruption to fix (including redecoration afterwards). For instance, rotted timber frame structure.
  2. Is the property planning compliant? I feel that this question sits in the grey area between surveyor and solicitor, and I don’t like that. Is is possible to engage some sort of planning surveyor?
  3. What will it cost to bring the property up to the standard I want? That’s presumably where I need architect/builder/QS expertise.

(1) and (2) really affect whether I’ll bid at all, and up to what price. It’s frustrating to pay loads of money to know stuff that should be disclosed by the vendor to all bidders. Sure, the winning bidder can get their own surveys done after going sale agreed, but it’s a massive waste of effort for multiple bidders to do beforehand, so they don’t, so stuff gets bid up but people in the dark.

(3) I’d happily do after going sale agreed as it doesn’t really affect the price.

The situation we have right now leads to so much frustration and bad feeling, not helped by EAs who blatantly lie about issues they know full well about but hold back in the hope that they can bounce the buyer over the line.

I guess I’m saying that I’d look for a more focused (and probably cheaper) survey just covering structural issues and deal with the detail later.

I found the PHC report to very heavy on detail but a bit difficult to tell the wood from the trees. It must have taken ages to put together, and it’s nice to have all the photographs backing up the commentary, but there was still a lot of boilerplate text in there.

For me, your point (3) is vital to know before going sale agreed. If it’s going to cost 100k to bring the property up to standard I’ll bid 100k less than if it’s in walk-in condition.

How often are ‘sale agreed’ prices negotiated down post-survey? Friend of mine is buying a doer-upper and his survey said dry rot in the floor would cost about 8k to fix. They didn’t get 8k off but managed to push down the price by a few quid. Might be tougher to do in cases where there has been a bidding war.

In my case my suggestion of a post-SA price reduction was met with “the underbidder won’t care about those problems. They’ve sold their house to buy this, they’re very emotionally attached”. So I dropped out and then a week or so later was told that the underbidder wasn’t interested after the EA told her about my survey.

It’s hard to pick out the croutons of truth in the big soup of lies.

I just walked away from a sale agreed situation; a few things popped up that needed significant work, and the vendor would not renegotiate. Sayonara.

What I learned from that is to get more checked earlier in the process.

Would love if places for sale had a survey report provided by the vendor, it’d save so much time.

I’m not interested in a place that’s falling down. Saw a nice place today, but it has a sloping floor upstairs and a large old window that seems to be either falling in (or the wall is bulging out).
Maybe these are minor issues that are relatively cheaply fixed (<20K), but maybe they’re huge issues that mean a lot of expensive work.
I’m not going to gamble 500 euros on the survey to find that out, so no go for me.

If I were trying to sell a place that obviously needed work I’d get a survey done and some quotes from builders. I’d make this information available to any viewers. This would cost me less than €1,000 and there would be a far greater chance of the sale going through at the price agreed initially rather than having the delay and hassle of post-survey renegotiation. Also I wouldn’t lose potential buyers such as Poohbear who are put off by an ‘unknown quantity’.

I reckon a few people with knackered old houses don’t have the money to be throwing around on surveys. If they’re trading down the EA, solicitor etc will be paid out of the sale proceeds. Might also be an issue with estate sales.

I’m not sure that’s a very good idea.

If a seller believes the property might require remedial work, they’d be best off pricing the property just slightly below market rates and hoping for traction that way. The benefit of this would be
(i) a buyer might not get a survey which identifies the problem,
(ii) it passes the cost of a survey to potential buyer,
(iii) if remedial work is required the price has already been anchored so while some concession might be required, this is based off a higher starting point.

That’s fine in theory but if pisses off buyers after a protracted bidding war then it might easily backfire.

Would a buyer trust the seller’s survey? And is the seller or their surveyor responsible if something is missed? I’d still be inclined to get a survey done myself.

In fairness, the goal isn’t to make friends, it’s to make as much money as possible.

By anchoring the price it makes the buyer feel they’ve gained something when you drop it slightly. Plus, by having them incur the cost, they’re that little bit more committed/invested.

You won’t make any money if the buyers drop out.

Irritating customers is no better strategy in real estate than any other business. I think the reason EAs do it so much is because they’re morons rather than masters of psychology.

I can’t argue with that but I still think from a seller’s perspective, the above strategy would make more sense.

And I think you’re kind of missing the sequence of events. The buyer would not be pi55ed off. Firstly the list price is anchored in their head, they complete survey which identifies issues, you concede a little on the price, they feel they’re getting something. In the buyer’s eyes they’ve won something while the seller has lost something.