The importance of a structural survey

By Vincent Brady

When you are buying property in Dublin, or anywhere else in Ireland, no matter how old it is or whether it’s residential or commercial, you need to be sure it’s structurally sound. When you are buying a property there are three main types of survey to consider, and if you are taking out a mortgage for the purchase, the lender has the same options and will insist on at least one of them.

Mortgage Valuation Report – This is the most basic of all surveys and involves an inspection of the property to ensure it appears to be in a reasonable condition and is worth the price you are paying for it. This will be the minimum requirement of any lender.

Home Buyers Survey – Although this is more in dept than a mortgage valuation report, it is not as comprehensive as a structural survey. These are usually carried out by qualified chartered surveyors who provide a report of anything obvious that may need urgent attention or could affect the value of the property.

Structural Survey – This is the most detailed of all surveys. It involves a detailed inspection of the property from top to bottom. It will consider the types of materials used, the integrity of the foundations and walls and will look at such things as the roof, loft spaces, electrical systems, and anything else that could cause a problem in the future.

This type of report could highlight problems that are not obvious to the purchaser or the seller but could involve large expenses for one of them.

The areas a structural survey will look at

There are so many things a structural survey will consider, many of which would not occur to most people to check. These can include:

  • Damage to brick or stonework that could perhaps have been caused by frost or other weather conditions.
  • A structural survey will look for hazardous materials such as asbestos, which should always be removed by specialists.
  • Damaged or removed lintels will be looked for.
  • Evidence of damp problems such as dry rot or rising damp.
  • The structural survey will check if any supporting walls have been altered or removed, and if the work has been carried out to the right standards.
  • Damaged or rotten window frames can be costly to replace, so the structural survey will examine these too.
  • If any DIY improvements have been made, whether any planning permission needed was obtained and if the work was carried out to comply with building regulations would be looked at.
  • Woodworm and other insect infestations are another consideration of a structural survey.
  • The surveyor will inspect the roof and attic space to ensure there are no hidden problems there.
  • Plumbing and electrical installations will be checked for problems.
  • The overall integrity of the property will be considered to make sure it has not been affected by subsidence or landslip.

A structural survey report will also let you know about any other potential problems such as a party wall or shared access.

Regardless of whether the property you are considering is in Dublin or elsewhere, the cost of a structural survey could be far outweighed by any future problems you may encounter if you do not have one done.

Which properties need a structural survey?

Dublin is a fine mix of all types of properties, both new and old. If the property you are considering has been built within the last 10 years any issues should be covered by the builder’s guarantee. However, there are many properties that have nothing like this to fall back on and you should consider a structural survey if:

  • The property is more than 50 years old.
  • The property is of an unusual construction such as timber framed or with a thatched roof.
  • The building is obviously run down and needs work.
  • A structural survey is wise for any building that is more than three stories high.
  • If you are intending to carry out major alterations such as adding an extension.
  • If the property is very expensive.

If any of the above apply, or just for your own peace of mind about the property you are considering, a structural survey could be the way forward.

Other benefits of a structural survey to consider

If you have a mortgage valuation report or a homebuyer’s report and after you have moved into the property a problem becomes apparent, you have no comebacks on whoever carried out the inspection. This is because both types of reports are very basic in their scope and the surveyor will not be looking for problems that are not obvious.

With a structural survey, the surveyors are acting on your behalf and they have a legal duty to look for and report to you any problems they find. This means that if an issue arises that should have been picked up on the structural survey and was missed, you may well be able to claim for compensation.

Contact Banrach Consulting Engineers for a comprehensive structural survey

At Banrach Consulting Engineers, we will provide a comprehensive structural survey for our clients. It will not only highlight any problems but will also give an indication of the costs involved to put them right. This can be very useful with price negotiations, as when the seller knows the report has been prepared by qualified and experienced surveyors, they are more likely to take it seriously and accept a lower offer.

With more than 15-years experience behind us, we have a team of experts that can ensure your structural survey will include everything it should. Why not give us a call and find out the cost of a structural survey for the property you are considering, as this can vary depending on the type and size of the building. The money you will spend could save you many thousands of euros, so why not have a chat with us on 01 969 6373 or email us at vincent@banrach.ie.