As Chartered Building Surveyors, much of our time is spent looking at buildings. There are a wide range of surveys that we can offer, for different purposes.  Here are the surveying services that we can offer at Matthew Sears, Building Surveying and Design, so please let us know how we can help:


Buyer's Surveys

There are a few different types of survey for buyers of property (both residential and commercial), and the range can be daunting. Most people will be buying the home with a mortgage, and the lender's mortgage valuation is an important part of that process. However, it is important to remember that this is not a survey! It is a brief appraisal of the value of the property as security for the lender. It does very little to tell a prospective homeowner where they may have to spend money in the next few years.


Why? If a £400,000 house is purchased with a £300,000 mortgage, the lender will still be very happy to lend against that property if there are £50,000 worth of urgent repairs. However, most home buyers will not have an additional £50,000 to spend on those urgent repairs once they've bought the property! Without their own additional survey, there is nobody to identify the repairs for the buyer, and nobody to give them advice on whether or not to proceed with the purchase.


In some cases, a buyer's survey may not be necessary:

  • if the building is brand new, there may not be much evidence to identify potential problems, and a guarantee scheme (such as Zurich or NHBC) may give some peace of mind; or
  • if the building is going to be demolished, or is going to undergo extensive modernisation or remodelling, the purchaser may have allowed a healthy contingency for additional works.

However in most cases, a list of defects can be invaluable when making the decision to proceed with the biggest purchase of one's life. Even if there's nothing wrong with the property, an informed "yes, it looks fine" can be tremendously helpful!


So, what can we offer to prospective purchasers?



Picture of a cold water cistern in a roof void
Not all building problems are structural!

The Building Survey: previously known as a "Structural Survey", the Building Survey is a bespoke report on that property, residential or commercial, and is a snapshot of the property on the date it was undertaken.


We look at all accessible elements of the building, and provide a written report of the building, from top to bottom, highlighting defects and areas of concern, and identify "next steps" to diagnose or stop the problem.


Dry rot hyphae and spores near a leaking pipe
Pipe leaks can cause significant damage to timber if not dealt with promptly.

The Flat / House Condition Report: this is the cut-down report, which is best suited to newer properties.  The inspection is the same as for a Building Survey, but reporting sticks purely to the defects and areas of concern, rather than the building as a whole.


Specific Defect Report: occasionally, we are asked to report on a specific visible defect in a property (often cracking) or a particular element of the building ("is the roof OK?"). This targeted report can be cheaper than a fuller survey, although there is a limit to the scope of the report we can give on the wider building.


Snagging Report: for the purchaser of a new building, there is a limit to how much we can identify once the decorations are complete, but before it's used. This is where the housebuilders' guarantee schemes can help. However, we can help you prepare a list of cosmetic defects for the builder's attention before handover. Typical issues could be windows not opening, missed decorations or incomplete works.


Please note: we do not provide market valuations of properties.


Surveys for Building Owners

We can undertake different types of surveys for owners of residential and commercial buildings as follows:

Annotated crack gauge monitoring
Crack monitoring over time in a church building.

Defect Analysis: as with the Specific Defect Report for potential purchasers, we can look at a specific issue in the property, to highlight the cause and remedial work required. This can extend to a detailed specification for the remedial works, and working with a builder to put things right. This is often water damage or cracking.



Condition Survey: as part of the work of a Party Wall surveyor, we will survey and report on the condition of the most-likely affected parts of the neighbour's property, to ensure that no damage is caused by the building works. This is checked-off after the completion of works to identify any new defects. Other condition surveys are carried out for different reasons, for instance recording dilapidations for commercial lease renewals.


Stock Condition Surveys: for owners of rental and investment property, there are many reasons why a snapshot of the condition of their buildings can be important, often relating to their sale or maintenance.  Depending on the purpose of the survey, information can be provided in a range of ways, to identify future maintenance requirements, properties for disposal, or maintenance burdens for newly-acquired stock.


Measured Surveys

Finally, there are, of course, measured surveys of land and buildings to make record drawings, whether as part of architectural work, or to resolve property or boundary disputes.

So there are lots of survey options - how can we help? Please let us know!