FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What do I do if my survey flags up a lot of serious “traffic light” red and orange condition warnings – should I still buy the house?
Asked by: Bozena
RICS surveys of all types now use a traffic light ‘condition rating’ system as a simple way of explaining what’s OK and what isn’t. That said, some Building Surveys don’t use the green/orange/red system as they prefer to explain things in more detail.
This is what the condition ratings mean:-
Condition Rating 3
These are defects which are either serious and/or require urgent repair or replacement.
Condition Rating 2
Repair or replacement is required but isn’t considered to be urgent. Normal maintenance must be carried out.
Condition Rating 1
No repair is currently needed. Normal maintenance must be carried out.
Basically, anything red you ought to get checked before moving in. It’s also sensible to get quotes for anything marked red or orange so you know how much it’s going to cost to fix things before you’re legally committed to buy (ie before you exchange contracts).
Of course the surveyor needs to exercise judgement based on their experience as to what’s ‘urgent or serious’ and what isn’t. Less experienced surveyors might over-react to a minor issue like old inactive beetle boreholes or some minor damp.
Also, big corporate survey firms on mortgage lenders’ panels often encourage their staff surveyors to mark services (e.g. gas, electricity, heating, drainage) with a ‘red for danger’ rating even where no signs of a problem have been spotted!
The thinking behind this is that the surveyor doesn’t test services so can’t guarantee they are totally safe.
Some independent surveyors regard this approach as inappropriate, even misleading. Where defects to services are visible during a survey inspection they should be explained in the report, and given an orange or red rating.
Remember that estate agents value properties assuming that they’re in reasonable condition unless something is very obvious like broken windows or a very dated kitchen and tired decorations.
So if a survey discovers hidden problems which will cost more to fix then you will have a very good case to renegotiate the price to allow for the cost of repairs and the hassle factor.