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What to Do if You Get Bad Survey Results

Written by Reviewed by Mike Ashton

6th Apr 2018 (Last updated on 2nd Apr 2020) 8 minute read

What can you do if your chartered surveyor highlights serious problems with your new home during the survey? It may seem daunting, but there's usually no need to panic as. In this guide, Compare My Move will help you explore your options at a time when it feels like disaster has struck.

It may be your perfect property, you may have had an offer accepted; but if your survey results are not what you hoped for, it can be a jarring experience and may be difficult to figure out what to do next. The best you can be is prepared. So whether you've had a red condition rating with your Homebuyers Survey, or some underlying issues from your Building Survey, we’ll go through the next steps you should take if you've received bad survey results.

This includes who you should talk to to get advice, what steps you should take to remedy the problem and some tips on what to do if a happy middle ground cannot be found.

Steps To Take After a Bad Survey
  1. Communicate With Your Surveyor
  2. Communicate With the Estate Agent
  3. Communicate With Your Conveyancer
  4. Get Quotes for the Work
  5. Renegotiate After A Bad Survey
  6. Think About What it Means to You
  7. Take A Break and Review the Situation
  8. Consider Walking Away
  9. Save on Your Surveying With Compare My Move

Communicate With Your Surveyor

The first thing to do if you’ve received your survey and are concerned or confused about the results is to get in touch with your surveyor. A good surveyor will be happy to spend the time working through their findings and help you better understand them.

This is a key step as, in many cases, the results of a survey can be misinterpreted as a lot more serious than they actually are. It’s very rare, especially with older houses, that no areas of concern are found, or need addressing with some urgency.

Talk to your surveyor and ask questions about how severe each element is, and ask for their recommendations based on what they have written. This will give you a much clearer idea of what the report is telling you, and will help you make decisions moving forward. Remember you are paying for there time so don't be afraid to ask you surveyor questions on any other queries that you might have. 

The surveyor should also be able to advise you on which areas may need further inspections. Where there are a number of key issues, this should give you a better idea of the impact and potential costs of these problems.

Communicate With the Estate Agent

Once you have a clear idea what the survey report is telling you, you should discuss the results with your estate agent to get their advice on how to move forward. They should be able to give you their opinion on what move to make next, and why. As an impartial party, they may recommend getting a second opinion on the survey results, or suggest other steps to remedy them, such as re-negotiating on the price, depending on how severe the survey results are.

Communicate With Your Conveyancer

Like the estate agent, your conveyancer should be able to give you advice on the best way to move forward from the findings of your property survey. It’s important to speak to both the estate agent and the conveyancer, as they should be able to give two different professional viewpoints on the situation.

For example, your estate agent is likely to give advice based on the best way to keep a positive relationship between yourself and the buyer in order for neither party to pull out of the deal. Your conveyancing solicitor, on the other hand, should be able to offer advice based on what is legally viable, and should be interested solely in protecting your interests. They should be able to tell you whether you can renegotiate based on the findings, or whether you should simply pull out of the sale altogether.

Get Quotes for the Work

Based on what your surveyor has told you, and any follow-up questions you may have asked, you should have a good and clear idea of what needs to be done to make the property safe and habitable. The silver lining is that this is exactly why you need a property survey, so that you can remedy these underlying issues and determine whether the property is actually a worthy investment.

This information will allow you to start gathering quotes for the work that's needed. When doing this, it’s a good idea to secure at least 3 quotes on each aspect of work that needs completing. This will allow you to get a good idea of exactly how much the jobs will cost by letting you work out a realistic average, which is key when it comes to potential renegotiation on the final cost of the property.

When you get the quotes, you should also ask those providing them to give you a good understanding of how long the tasks are likely to take. Ask about when they'll be able to fit you into their schedule, and how long it may take to complete once started. This is important, as it will give you an idea of when you may be able to actually move in, and any costs or issues that the timeline on these may cause.

Renegotiate After A Bad Survey

So, you’ve fully understood the issues at hand, sought the advice of key professionals involved in the sales process, and have a clear idea of how much and how long the repairs will take to be completed. This now puts you in a strong and informed position to renegotiate.

To do this, you should start by going via your estate agent, much like the initial negotiations that were taken in the first instance of getting your offer accepted. By communicating with your agent exactly how much the updates are likely to cost you, both in terms of expenditure, as well as the time involved, they should be able to advise you on what they think is an acceptable-counter offer.

Before making this new offer, you must understand exactly what you’re willing to be flexible with. Although you may initially make a new offer based on the full costs of the repairs, it’s possible that these terms will not be accepted. Knowing what the minimum amount is that you'd be happy with will make the negotiation process a lot easier. This flexibility may be that you accept some of the cost of the repairs yourself, or that you agree for the current owners to make the repairs based on their own quotes and timelines.

Think About What it Means to You

Buying and moving into a new home can be a highly emotional moment in your life. Once you’ve found a house that you’ve fallen in love with, it can be very difficult to make rational decisions, or to decide whether walking away is the better option in the long-run.

When your survey has turned up bad results, you really need to ask yourself what that new house means to you. If it’s perfect in every way, including the size, style and location, then it may be worth spending a little extra to make the move happen. On the other hand, if the house is not 100% ideal, then you might regret spending so much extra money in order to make it safe and liveable.

Try talking to an unconnected party like a friend or colleague about whether it would be worth the renovations. They should be able to ask you the right questions to help you understand how much it really means to you.

Take A Break and Review the Situation

You could open your survey report and be overwhelmed by the number of issues raised with the property in question. The initial shock of bad survey results could lead you to make quick and irrational decisions. It’s sometimes worth walking away from the survey for a little while and taking a break to clear your mind before continuing with actions based on the findings.

Getting advice from those we have mentioned already within this guide will also help you to get contrasting views on the results and put them into perspective. Taking a little time to think things over can help calm your mind and ensure you make the most rational and appropriate decision for you.

Consider Walking Away

It’s very important to keep the option of walking away from the deal if the issues found are troubling. Even though you may have spent some money on the property you’ve made an offer on, it might still be worth walking away if the numbers don’t add up. This can be difficult when you've already invested in certain aspects, like the property survey itself, or if you’ve already fallen in love with the building.

Suppose, for example, that you’re unable to renegotiate any middle ground on the repairs that need making. Although you may have spent £1,000 in the process of the purchase, if the repairs are going to cost you £5,000 and you cannot re-negotiate, then you might still be better off walking away. Always be mindful of the future as well as the current situation you're in. Ask yourself the question, "What will benefit me in the long-run?" 

Save on Your Surveying With Compare My Move

We hope this guide has helped ease your mind if you receive some bad survey results, or has helped you prepare for a worst-case scenario. Whether you re-enter negotiations, pull out of the purchase or pay for remedial work, it's worth taking a level-headed approach to these findings which comes from being fully informed about every step available to you. 

If you're looking for an additional survey as a way of forming a second opinion, Compare My Move can help. You can get your free surveying quote by filling in a 30-second form here so that you can start saving before the results are even calculated.

Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having written for Huffington Post and Film Criticism Journal, Martha now regularly researches and writes advice articles for everything moving house related.

Mike Ashton

Reviewed by Mike Ashton

Director at Cambridge Building Surveyors , Cambridge Building Surveyors

With over 20 years of experience in the property surveying industry, Mike Ashton is now the director at Cambridge Building Surveyors.