What Survey Do I Need for a Terrace House?

By Novello Team on and updated on

With almost 7 million terraced houses, this often compact and economical property style is one of the most common styles of property in the UK. Many terraced houses offer period features, charm, outside space and even the opportunity to renovate and put your own stamp on a home. However, as many were built during the Victorian period, they can potentially have hidden issues or extensive maintenance needs. So, what survey should you get before buying a terraced house to ensure you fully understand the home you’re looking to buy?

Why Buy a Terrace House?

From Yorkshire to London and across the UK, terraced houses are a feature of the property landscape. They’ve been a popular choice, particularly for families, for decades, which is unsurprising given the many benefits a terraced property can offer.

Top of the list is that they tend to be cheaper than semi-detached and detached properties. This also means they’re often popular with first-time buyers who like the space and privacy they offer compared to similarly priced apartments. Terraced houses also mostly come with outside space, such as a yard or garden. They can be pretty spacious inside too, and many have been extended or offered the opportunity to do so. The shared walls of terraced houses can also mean there’s less need for insulation, and they can be more energy-efficient homes.

Downsides of Buying a Terrace House

As terraced homes will be sandwiched between two properties, one downside can be a tendency to hear your next-door neighbours. With period homes, it’s also worth looking into the parking situation as these homes won’t come with a garage. Trying to secure a space outside your house can be a battle in many streets, and it’s a good idea to check the cost of any permits you’ll need.

It’s also worth noting that while terraced properties can offer excellent development opportunities if you want to alter a wall you share with a neighbour, you need to comply with the Party Wall Act, which can add an extra layer of cost and complication.

The Best Survey for a Terraced House

There is, then, a lot to consider when buying a terraced house, which makes it even more crucial that you get the right survey.

In almost all cases, the best option will be a Building Survey. This is the most comprehensive survey available and will ensure you have all the information you need to be confident you’re paying a fair price for a property and that it’s in the condition you expect it to be.

A RICS Building Survey, also known as a Structural Survey, is the most in-depth report available and provides a detailed picture of the property’s construction and condition, inside and out. In addition to assessing the state of key aspects of the property, such as windows, doors, roof spaces, and outbuildings, a Building Survey will also provide you with clear, actionable information so you can proceed with confidence. This includes highlighting any significant issues or wear and tear defects and explaining the implications, pinpointing any repairs that have already been carried out and thoroughly examining the house’s structural integrity.

As terraced houses will likely have undergone maintenance, repairs and upgrades throughout their lives, they can hide serious issues, even if the visible parts look immaculate. It’s therefore, essential that such properties are thoroughly assessed to avoid you potentially making a costly decision.

At Novello, a Building Survey can be combined with our Private Client Surveying service, which offers even more insight and information alongside a bespoke, personalised service that ensures the purchase proceeds with minimum stress. Benefits include costing estimates for significant works, advice on the next steps to speak to experts if issues are detected, and guidance on renegotiation strategies.

While we would almost always recommend you invest in a Building Survey, if your terraced house is more modern, a Level 2 survey could be sufficient. Novello’s HomeLevel Report can be suitable for homes built after 1990. This less comprehensive survey will assess the overall condition of a property and deliver the information in a clear, concise report. Defects and maintenance issues will be highlighted using a traffic light system, making it an easy-to-understand survey. The HomeLevel report includes an examination of at least 20 crucial interior and exterior elements of a property and a bespoke summary report sent to your solicitor to ensure they understand any issues too.

If the terraced house you’re looking to buy is a new build, a Snagging List can be invaluable. While a new build should be in perfect condition when you move in, the reality for many buyers is that this isn’t the case. And getting the developer to fix any issues once you’ve completed it can be an uphill struggle. A Snagging List will highlight the problems your developer is responsible for addressing before you move in. It will include descriptions of issues plus photographic evidence, which can be used to ensure your developer rectifies the problems with the minimum amount of fuss.

Novello’s specialist snagging inspector will look at every nook and cranny of a property to find defects ranging from untidy paint finishes to uneven floors, utilising technology to ensure sockets, underfloor heating, and extractor fans are fully operational and ensuring the property is safe to live in.

If you’re buying a terraced house or you have any questions about the best survey for a property, get in touch today.

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