We can’t see the point of a survey

Our lawyer, Fiona McNulty answers your questions
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Riverside house
© Malcolm Willett (www.willett-ink.co.uk)
Q We are buying a riverside listed building. Our solicitor has been quite insistent that we have to have a survey. We intend to totally refurbish and extend so see a survey now as a waste of money. We already know that work needs to be done to the property and we are cash buyers, so surely it is up to us?

A Yes, it is up to you to decide whether you instruct a surveyor but your solicitor is giving you the correct advice. A solicitor who does not advise his client in this way could be in breach of his duty of care to them.

You should commission a survey just as soon as your offer is accepted by the seller so that the results of the survey are known prior to exchange of contracts because the rule of caveat emptor or "buyer beware" places on you the burden of discovering any defects in the property that may not be apparent to you when you inspect the property yourself.

You could have a Homebuyer Survey and Valuation or a full structural survey but as the property you are buying is listed and by a river you require a full structural survey in order to reveal any major structural defects, the value of the property in relation to the purchase price, any remedial work or structural work that may be required, third party or overriding interests and confirmation of the boundaries.

Importantly, you may be able to use the results of the survey to negotiate a reduction in price, or the survey may reveal matters that your solicitor will need to investigate, such as listed building issues or the defects in the property may be so serious, and the cost of remedial works so great, that you withdraw from the transaction altogether.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors www.ttuk.com.

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