At present only about 20% of buyers get a professional survey done of their property. It is often the case that the buyer thinks that the mortgage providers survey is sufficient, so there is no need to pay for another one. A mortgage lenders survey purpose is just to put a value on the property to establish the amount and terms of the loan.
A mortgages lenders survey will not point out any structural problems with the property or even if you are paying a fair price for it. This is the reason to commission a professional survey of the property.
In terms of professional surveys, there are two types available. These are the Homebuyer Survey and the Building Survey. As described by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the two surveys are described below:
Homebuyer Survey: An inspection presented in standard format suitable for modern properties of conventional construction. It focuses on essentials: significant defects and problems which are urgent. It is not intended to be a detailed survey.
Building Survey: A much more detailed report on the condition of the property. Suitable for all types of property of all ages and types. Always recommended for an older property, one of unusual construction or for a listed building.
The Homebuyer survey is the cheaper option, and is suitable for houses that are less than 30 years old, and of conventional construction. If the property you are looking at is older than this, or an unusual construction, it is best to go for the more thorough Building survey. The Building survey however will cost from £400 upwards, and will take a day or even two to complete. You should receive the final report within about 3 weeks from the survey.
When you have decided which survey to have done, you need to decide on a surveyor to carry it out. Your mortgage lender may be able to recommend someone, or your estate agent should be able to. You can also contact the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors at www.rics.org.