Property surveys can uncover problems you never knew existed, so it can be helpful to carry out a thorough investigation of your property yourself to increase your chances of a positive sale procedure when moving house. In addition, property surveys can give you an idea of what kind of improvements you can make to a property.
Remember that not many people are actually aware of what a property survey covers. It’s not just the odd leak or a failing boiler; it includes property measurements, rights-of-way, gaps, existing improvements and much more. Here are ten things you might come across during a typical building survey:
Sometimes getting things done beforehand seems like a good idea, but existing improvements during a survey can be questioned by the surveyor. Don’t worry if you’re just changing the door or installing double-glazing, it’s more to do with significant changes to the building itself. The surveyor may be keen to make sure that the improvements you’re doing aren’t violating certain laws or restrictions, so this could have anything to do with the height, bulk, set-backs, dimensions or even the parking accessibility of your property.
When driveways are part of your own land, this isn’t so much of an issue. However, many people have shared driveways with their neighbours, which is something that the property surveyor might look at as well. When maintaining your own driveway, you might actually be responsible for what happens to your neighbour’s driveway as well. This can be an obligation by law, so it’s important to check the situation with your neighbour so you’re aware of what the surveyor might note down.
Another aspect of your property that might be covered by a surveyor is the boundary lines. This is basically an analysis of where your property ends and begins. It provides you with the opportunity to learn where you can install your next shed space or possibly put up a fence. It’s even more important if you plan on extending your property.
Some properties have easements whereby two properties are affected by one particular easement. For example, the right of way to a nearby road might involve someone from property A having to travel through property B. It’s quite difficult to determine some easements, especially as they don’t often appear on maps or deeds. Surveys can find out if an easement does exist on your property so that you and a neighbour know if you both have access to surrounding land.
If you’ve recently built an extension to your property but are concerned that it might not comply with zoning classifications, a survey can provide you with the answer. Zoning classifications provide a summary of what you can and can’t do with your property, usually with regards to buildings and extensions.
Gaps between Properties
Most people believe that neighbouring properties simply mean that once side of the land is property owner A’s and the opposite side is property owner B’s. In truth, gaps and even overlapping of properties does exist, which is why it can be important to get a survey done to see if this is the case for you. If there are discrepancies between your property and the adjoining one, your ability to carry out construction work or even park in that area may have to be revised.
If your property is situated in an area where wetlands and underground water is present, you may need to pursue a different type of inspection instead of a traditional survey. This is because surveys tend to cover visible surface water only rather than anything that is not visible. Professional inspection of land is recommended if you are planning a construction project and are aware of nearby wetlands.
Pipes, Wiring, Drains etc.
Surveys take not of all the wiring and drainage that exists around your property as you would expect. However, they can also look into any underground appliances or utilities you might have on your property. In many cases, utility companies may have to visit your property to carry out upkeep work. This is vitally important should you be planning any construction work in the near future, as you wouldn’t want to accidentally stumble across another companies underground cables and drains.
All surveys will look at the access, ingress and egress aspects of your property, which is basically the procedure taken to leave, enter and return to a property. A typical survey should always state whether or not there is a physical vehicular ingress and egress to a public street or pathway.
You wouldn’t want to accidentally disturb a cemetery in the process of carrying out construction work on your property. Surveys will carry out a detailed check on whether or not there is a cemetery within your property boundaries. If there is, you would not be able to carry out any construction within that area regardless.
Mike James has extensive experience in the real estate industry specialising in new real estate opportunities. He covers topics relating to property surveys and renovation for Brian Gale Surveyors, chartered surveyors based in leafy Surrey.
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