Posted on: 25 May 2022 by James Brook, MRICS

What Survey Do I Need for a Semi-detached Home?

Semi-detached houses are the most common property type in the UK, with around one-third of the population living in such homes and about 7 million properties built across the country. While they are usually more affordable than detached homes while still offering decent space, semis are often older properties with some dating back to the mid 19th century. A post-war boom in their popularity led to more construction in the 1940s and 50s, so many of these properties have been adapted and modified to suit modern living. For this reason, it’s important to get a comprehensive survey before buying a semi-detached home.

Why buy a semi-detached house?

As semi-detached houses are so popular, they come in a wide range of styles and sizes. They also tend to offer a strong combination of space, style and affordability, making them popular with families in particular. A recent survey by Halifax found that the average price of a semi in the UK is just over £280,000 compared with over £425,000 for a detached. Meanwhile, the average semi-detached in London now comes in at over £635,000, while a detached will set you back in excess of £910,000.

It’s not just the internal space that makes a semi a good choice, though most also come with substantial outdoor space to the front and rear. As well as providing garden space to enjoy, it also opens up the opportunity for off-street parking, garden offices and other useful outbuildings.

Given the recent hikes in energy prices, choosing a semi-detached home could also be a sensible idea. Having another building attached to your home can reduce your heating bill as you’ll lose less heat than a detached home where all the external walls are exposed.

Finally, should your home need any maintenance or repairs, it may be possible to share these with your adjoining neighbour if they impact both properties, such as roof repairs. It’s worth remembering, however, that if you’re planning significant renovations, you will need your neighbour’s co-operation, and you will have to abide by the terms of the Party Wall Act for certain projects.

When it comes time to move on, though, you can be sure that your home will be easy to sell, with three-bed semis among the most sought after properties in the UK.

What survey do I need?

While there are many benefits to buying a semi-detached property, as with all house purchases, it’s essential that you do your research and you’re clear on what exactly you’re buying. A crucial part of this is the building survey.

There are several options for getting a survey, from a HomeBuyer report to a comprehensive building survey or even a simple snagging list if your semi-detached is a new build. Each offers a different level of information and detail. The correct option will depend on the age and condition of the property, if there have been any major works carried out, if you plan to start renovations, or if you want to have a thorough insight into the property before you commit to such a big purchase.

A building survey will be the sensible choice for most semi-detached homes, especially those built before 1990 and/or that cost over £1 million. A building survey will provide a thorough and detailed insight into the property’s construction and condition. It will delve into those hard to reach areas not just to highlight any defects or issues but to explain the likely cause and, crucially, offer costing estimates for significant defects to truly understand their impact and have the information you need to renegotiate if needed.

By getting a building survey from a professional, impartial, RICS qualified surveyor, you will know your home inside out. Your survey report will cover critical aspects, including structural integrity, insulation, services, roof condition, energy efficiency, and potential legal concerns. It will also highlight any repairs that have already been made or work carried out and potential future maintenance issues you may need to know about. If there are any areas of the property that are of concern, you can also speak to your surveyor to ensure these are thoroughly checked.

Another option is the Level 2 HomeBuyer Report, which will assess the property’s overall condition. While not as comprehensive as the building survey, it may be an option on newer properties built after 1990 that appear to be in a good state of repair – although be aware that even well-presented homes can be hiding serious defects. It also won’t be suitable if your property is in need of repair or you’re planning major renovations, however.

A HomeBuyer report will highlight any defects that may affect the property’s value, along with recommendations for repairs and ongoing maintenance. It excludes cost estimates for repairs and any detailed description of the construction of the building or clear advice on specific defects. At Novello, we offer the HomeLevel Report, which delivers the same information as the HomeBuyer but is more extensive. This covers at least 20 crucial interior and exterior elements of a property with easy to understand traffic light rated rankings so you can be clear on the severity of any issues. A bespoke summary report will also be sent to your solicitor to ensure they understand any problems.

For new-build semis, it is also essential to get an independent Snagging List to ensure that your new home is immaculate when you move in. This report will highlight those defects, such as uneven floors, cracked plaster, untidy finishes and poorly fitting joinery, that the developer is responsible for fixing but may be reluctant to carry out. By including photographic evidence in the report, you’ll be in a stronger position to ensure the developer fixes these snags before moving in. The report will also comment on the cause of the defects, highlight maintenance items and detail the remedial works needed.

The Novello Approach

We’ve helped many buyers across the country secure their perfect semi-detached home for the right price. In most instances, we’d always recommend protecting your investment with a Novello+ Building Survey. This will ensure you have all the information you need to make the right decision regarding your purchase while making sure you don’t get caught out having to make unexpected costly repairs soon after moving in. We will deliver a thorough, accurate and timely survey report carried out by a RICS qualified surveyor with this survey. We’ll also work with you as you move through the house buying process to ensure you are clear on what’s happening and informed throughout. This could involve an onboarding call to run through any concerns; we’ll also speak to your surveyor should they have any questions pre-survey. We’ll then carry out one of the most comprehensive building survey inspections available, a traffic light rating each defect and providing full photographic evidence and maintenance advice. We can even utilise drones and high-level cameras to access those hard to see areas.

If further investigations are required, we can point you in the right direction, sharing our professional contacts and advising on a renegotiation strategy if significant issues are found. Once we’ve delivered our report, we remain on hand should you or your solicitor have any further questions.

Buying a semi-detached property? Contact us or arrange a free consultation to find out which survey best suits your needs.