Unlawful building work and cheap surveys …

Another busy week for Lynwoods talking to concerned homeowners who’ve moved into their ‘dream’ home only to find it riddled with unlawful building work that’s now causing them immense heartache. The conversation usually goes like this:

‘Did your survey report not pick up on all of this?’

‘No, it didn’t mention it’.

‘What type of report did you commission?’

‘A HomeBuyer Report …’

Ah ………

Lynwoods Building Consultancy Survey Report Defects

These scenarios throw up the same problems every time: the false economy of scrimping on your survey and having the cheapest possible inspection carried out by a 5-a-day surveyor, and vendors trying to palm-off their secret liabilities on to the purchasers – dazzling them with the New York city skyline wallpaper in the other room.

Vendors need to understand that the days of getting your uncle Teddy and his buddy Stan to cobble together a cheap ‘loft-conversion’ with some left-over chipboard are over. Most significant building work carried out since 1984 is covered by the Building Regulations in some way or another and old-school builders are miles behind on developments in the regulations.

If you’re scrimping on your building work and having extensions and the like carried out improperly then the only hope you’ll have of not getting caught out is if you live in the house for life, or you sell it to a purchaser who scrimps on their survey and commissions a HomeBuyer Report or equivalent fly-by inspection.

If a shrewd purchaser employs somebody like us – who only carry out full and thorough surveys – then all of your bodged work, cheap add-ons and naughty knock-throughs will be spotted from a country mile away. All of the necessary paperwork will be called for in the report. As we have seen recently, this usually has one of three effects:

  • either the sale collapses flat there and then with red faces all around, or
  • the asking price is butchered to reflect the purchaser having to take on these paperless liabilities and to pay for having the details checked and put right and signed-off properly, or
  • the sale is significantly delayed until the vendor has put the paperwork or indemnities into place retrospectively – often costing thousands and needing additional work to put the shoddy details right.

One kitchen extension that we inspected recently had so many fundamental building flaws that the only economical way of putting it right was to pull it all down and start again. At first glance though, the extension looked great!

(Note to vendors: if you realise that we’re on to something during our survey of your house, no amount of chocolate thins will sway us to report otherwise.)

But all is not lost for your uncle Teddy’s 1989 loft conversion. You might just get away with it after all! The volume of calls we’ve had recently from purchasers only looking for a HomeBuyer Report or the cheapest possible building survey is hope for you yet that you can fob somebody off with your uncle Teddy’s death-trap while they’re out shopping for pop-up chrome sockets for the kitchen.

If you’re serious about your property investment and the value of your assests, then you need a full building survey.

If you’re serious about the future saleability of your assets, then you need to pay for your building work to be done right.

If you’d rather take your chances either way then good luck!