Property warning: ‘Big potholes’ buyers can face if they don’t get an independent survey

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Ray Harriot, founder and CEO of Reliable Property Group, has explained why using an independent chartered surveyor is so important and what “potholes clients fall into” if they don’t have one. Reliable Property Group was founded in early 2018 and covers everything from surveying to conveyancing and mortgages. The group’s ethos is “reliable by name, reliable by nature” which has seen them garner an impressive relationship base.

“We have a lot of scenarios where sometimes what sellers do is literally paint over the problem rather than fixing it,” Mr Harriot told Express.co.uk.

Mr Harriot explained that if buyers don’t have someone on “their side”, like a surveyor, looking at the integrity of the building they’re buying, they could be left in hot water.

He said: “We’ve had scenarios where we’ve had clients move into a property and then found out that there are issues with subsidence.

“Subsidence is the worst one and that’s why we always say to clients, before you say yes, make sure you carry out an independent survey – it’s so important.”

Subsidence is the sudden or gradual downward sinking of a ground’s surface which can pull a property’s foundations down with it.

To fix subsidence, a building’s foundations have to be repaired and re-set which can be costly.

If you were to move into a property that has subsidence, it could cost you anywhere between £5,000 and £50,000 depending on the size of your property and the extent of the damage, according to Home Protect.

For example, you could buy a property for £400,000 where you’ve only put down a £20,000 deposit.

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If you then move into that property and you find it has subsidence, you may have to shell out – depending on the damage – an extra £15,000 to £20,000.

Mr Harriot also warned that subsidence could have an impact on your home insurance policy.

He said: “Some insurers – this is where the big trap is – will not insure a property that has issues of subsidence.

“You could move into your property and if six months down the line, it’s found out there is an issue with subsidence, your insurers could be a bit reluctant to honour a claim.

“The first question they will ask is, ‘when you bought the property, what due diligence did you take?’”

If you didn’t get an independent survey done then they may not pay out for a claim.

Mr Harriot said Reliable Property Group always asks their clients whether there are issues with subsidence.

He said some signs of subsidence include cracks in the walls.

He continued: “If you have a crack in your property that is wider than your fingernail, we always advise a thorough building survey on the property to make sure there are no signs or issues of subsidence.”

The property expert said subsidence is the biggest problem, but that there are others too like Japanese Knotweed.

He said with Japanese Knotweed, it’s more likely that surveyors will pick up on it, but with subsidence you need to be more “intrusive” with the survey.

Another less serious issue is damp which can be more of a nuisance but also a health hazard if it’s quite severe.

Mr Harriot added: “Dry wood rot is a serious one but it’s nowhere near as serious as damp or subsidence issues.

“Those are some of the things that can creep up.

“Hopefully with customers going to get independent advice, we give them what is referred to as remedial works so we give them the cost of repairing it.

“If we go to your property and it’s £350,000 but there is £30,000 worth of damage, you can go to your seller and go ‘I’ve carried out a survey and these are all the defects.’”

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