Monday 22 December 2014

If these walls could talk

A new survey shows that six out of ten Irish homeowners didn't pay to have their properties checked out before buying them, writes Mark Keenan

Published 11/04/2014 | 02:30

A survey shows that over half of home owners didn't have their properties checked before they bought them.
A survey shows that over half of home owners didn't have their properties checked before they bought them.
Priory Hall

If you were buying a second hand car, you'd most likely get someone who knows about motors to come around and inspect it for you – wouldn't you?

After all, failing to get a car checked out could cost you thousands in unexpected repairs.

But what about a house?

After all, it's likely to the single biggest investment most of us will make in our lives. Surely after hearing about the heart breaking experiences of 150 buyers in Priory Hall or the saga of the pyrite estates, it's a definite that we'll get a professional along to get our houses checked out?

Well according to a poll released by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI), 96pc of those surveyed by them for a recent poll said they would make sure to get a house survey or inspection done if purchasing a house in the future.

This is not at all surprising right?

However what seems genuinely unbelievable is how existing homeowners answered the other question posed by the SCSI: Did you pay for a survey or any professional opinion on the condition of the property prior to purchasing your home?

Unbelievably a significant 60pc majority of Irish homeowners said they did not pay for a professional surveyor or architect to inspect their home before purchasing say the shock findings of a new survey of Irish homeowners.

And as if to confirm the consequences of being so grossly irresponsible, the RED C poll published this week showed that one in five (20pc) of those home owners who failed to pay for a professional opinion ended up incurring additional unexpected costs averaging €16,000 to rectify defects which were not initially noticed. A survey usually costs in the range of €400 to €600.

Rural home owners were the least likely to get a survey done, with the highest evasion rates occurring in Connaught and Ulster said the poll of 1004 people. City dwellers were the most likely to pay for a survey. Those surveyed were asked:

Kevin Hollingsworth of the SCSI told Independent Property that failure to have a survey carried out was a "false economy".

"Purchasing a home is one of, if not the, largest financial commitments that people make in their lifetime and having a building survey carried out is important to give prospective purchasers peace of mind and help them avoid unforeseen costs later on.

"People wouldn't buy a second hand car without getting it checked by a qualified mechanic first and yet six out of 10 bought a home without getting it inspected by a professional.

"The alarming findings were published at the launch of the SCSI's own Consumer Guide to Residential Building Surveys.

So what's going on? Are we a nation of irresponsible skinflints?

One Dublin based property investor who recently bought an apartment without paying a professional to survey thinks he has an answer: "Ireland is a small place and we do each other a lot of favours. A lot of people get friends or relations who are builders or property professionals to have a look over the homes they are buying free of charge and therefore, because they were not paid for their services, they wouldn't be counted in the survey.

"I was asked for €600 plus vat by an architect to look over a small property I was buying. My friend is a builder of long standing and is not qualified to open a paper bag. He didn't charge me but I trust him before I'd trust an architect or a surveyor. And I bet that most of the 150 people who bought in Priory Hall had a professional survey done before they purchased their homes."

The investor, who wished to remain nameless added that country people get less surveys done simply because they build their own homes on their own land and tend not to move again.

Ronan O'Driscoll, new homes director with Sherry FitzGerald added: "I am surprised at the results. In my experience pretty much everyone I have sold a home to has had some sort of survey done – whether by an architect, surveyor or by a friend or relation associated with the construction industry who comes along to advise them."

The free SCSI 'Consumer Guide to Residential Building Surveys and a list of qualified building surveyors is available on www.scsi.ie" concluded Hollingsworth.

What's in a survey?

FIRE – To ensure that a property is compliant with fire regulations – for example homes which have a converted attic in bedroom use are in breach of fire regulations and new owner should be aware of this for safety reasons. It is thus illegal to have anyone sleeping in that room on a regular basis.

FLOODING – A survey will check to see if a property shows signs of having been flooded already – something which could cost the homeowner tens of thousands in a recurrence and mean that they are unwittingly buying a house which cannot be insured.

WORKMANSHIP – In the case of a new home, a survey shows up the inadequacies of workmanship such as ill-fitting doors, cracked plasterwork and so on. The resulting compendium of faults is called the "snag list."

STRUCTURE – A survey will pick up whether a house has been experiencing serious structural problems such as subsidence which can cost over a hundred thousand to put right in extreme circumstances. The beginning of pyrite cracking should also be picked up in a survey.

Indo Property

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