Getting a building survey in Ireland is normal practice before you buy, just like in the UK. But what will you pay and where do you find a good surveyor?

When buying property there is one step you can’t afford to skip – having a professional building inspector give the property the once over. It’s all too easy to fall in love with one of Dublin’s Georgian townhouses, or with a quaint Irish cottage, and to believe that everything about it is utterly perfect. However, unless you’re professionally qualified to know for sure, this attitude could see you suffering financially later down the line.

If your survey throws up an issue with the property, but not a deal breaker. What now? read How to Negotiate Abroad, to work out your strategy for getting the property price reduced.

In Ireland, you need to find a professional who is affiliated with The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI).

A building inspector will consider the foundations, the roof, the electrics and plumbing, all the nooks and crannies, creaks and leaks! Whatever problems they find, big or small, you’ll either have complete peace of mind that the property is a sound purchase, dodge a costly bullet, be able to knock down your offer, or pop a clause in the sales contract outlining the work that needs to be completed by the current owners prior to the sale. All of these outcomes are preferable to missing something that could cost you thousands.

How to find a building inspector

The owner of a property is under no legal obligation to disclose any defects with their property. Neither is the estate agent. You need to find an independent, qualified surveyor to come and inspect the property – someone who has no vested interest in the sale of the property. It may be sensible to avoid companies who offer structural surveys in addition to architectural or engineering businesses. They may recommend costly further investigations that will benefit them financially.

In Ireland, check out the The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) to find a surveyor in your area.

Make sure that the surveyor you go for is covered by private indemnity insurance or building surveyor insurance. This will cover you in the event that defects are discovered after the survey is complete. Even the most professional amongst us have off days. Things can get missed! Seek proof that you’re protected in the event that your surveyor misses something important.

Get the building checked now so you don’t have to pay later.

Property is a relatively small world and estate agents and property lawyers will be able to recommend experts. You can ask around amongst neighbours to see if they have any recommendations. The internet and local business pages are another good place to start.

When making your choice, you could ask to see a sample report. Report styles will vary, and this will give you an idea not only of how thorough they are, but also whether you can understand what they’re on about! They should all be able to explain things in layman’s terms. Be wary if a company says that they don’t provide sample reports.

Types of survey

There are three types of survey. Type 1 is a somewhat basic “walk-through” inspection of the property. It wouldn’t normally include checking attics or planning matters. It would give you a summary report, but is worth the paper it’s written on? It might be suitable for a new property or one that you know well.

Type 2 is a thorough inspection we are more used to. It will not only include checking aspects of the property such as the attic, insulation, drains and services but also suggesting remedial action. The surveyor will check boundaries, planning issues and recent alterations. The style of report will vary but the detail should be sufficient for most buyers.

Type 3 is even more thorough. The surveyor may lift floorboards and access service hatches, and switch the central heating on to check it works.

Is it expensive?

Most property fees are based on a percentage of the sales price. But that is not the case with surveys, which are typically priced according to the time they take to complete. The cost of a survey will depend upon a few factors. These are the standard questions you’ll be asked by your building inspector before they can quote you a price for the survey:

1 – The age of the building
2 – The type of building – house, flat, etc.
3 – The square metre size of the property
4 – What extensions or modifications have been made to the structure
5 – The location of the property

As a rule of thumb, budget for €500 to €1,000.

This might seem like a cost you could do without, but it is considerably less than what you’re likely to incur if you have to face repair costs later.

Download the Ireland Buying Guide today

The Ireland Buying Guide takes you through each stage of the property buying process, with practical recommendations from our experts who have been through the process themselves. The guide will help you to:

  Ask the right questions
  Avoid losing money
  Avoid the legal pitfalls
  Move in successfully

Download your free guide to buying in Ireland

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