Countrywide Home Surveys

Frequently Asked Questions

Buying a house is a huge commitment.

At Countrywide, we’re dedicated to helping you make the right decision and guide you through the process.

Please see our most frequently asked questions below.

If you have any queries not addressed, you can contact our sales team on 08081 698 400 for help, advice, and support.

Our surveyor will visually inspect the property for dampness aided by a damp meter. This is a non-invasive inspection and no tests are taken (i.e. no timber, plaster or brick samples are taken for laboratory testing). Furniture or personal effects will not be moved and no testing can be undertaken to walls behind permanent fittings such as wardrobes or kitchen units and appliances.

If high damp meter readings are obtained, our surveyor will provide further advice within the report.

All our surveyors are aware of the health and other implications of asbestos. They are also aware of the common asbestos containing materials used in residential properties. If during the course of the inspection our surveyor identifies or reasonably suspects the presence of asbestos containing materials this will be reported.

However, we don’t carry out an asbestos inspection or act as asbestos inspectors when inspecting properties that may fall within the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. With flats, we’ll assume there is a ‘dutyholder’ (as defined in the Regulations), an asbestos register and an effective management plan all in place and none of these presents a significant risk to health or need any immediate payment. The dutyholder is not consulted by us.

Click here to view our asbestos fact sheet.

Our surveyors will engage with you before inspecting the property. If you are planning any alterations you should mention these to our surveyor. We will not be able to formally comment in the report, and our Surveyors cannot provide plans, or any structural loading calculations for planned alterations.

Our surveyors will rely on local knowledge and will also review the Environmental Agency website to ascertain if the property is located within a flood risk area. It should be noted that the information from the Environmental Agency only gives a general guide on the geographic area and does not provide specific information about individual properties.

Our surveyor will recommend that your legal advisor check with the vendor of the property whether there have been any incidents of flooding to the property in the past.

Many roof spaces are heavily insulated and/or used to store items. If the hatch is within 3 metres of the floor level, and it's safe for us to do so, we'll open unsecured roof hatches.

HomeFact® Report

We don't enter the roof space, but from the hatch we'll look at the roof structure and any other features to tell you about it.

RICS Home Survey Level 2

We will enter the roof space, where it is possible and safe to do so. The roof structure is inspected from within the roof space with attention paid to those parts vulnerable to deterioration and damage. Stored effects are not removed and insulation material is not disturbed.

RICS Home Survey Level 3

We will enter the roof space, where it is possible and safe to do so. The roof structure is visually inspected with attention paid to those parts vulnerable to deterioration and damage. We will lift, where possible and safe to do so, the corners of insulation to establish its thickness and type and to identify the underlying ceiling structure.

Where permission is granted from the owner/occupier, a small number of lightweight possessions will be repositioned so a more thorough inspection can be undertaken.

We’ll look at the roof from the ground using binoculars. We’ll also try to view a roof, or aspects of a roof, from a window or another part of the building if applicable. We’ll use a ladder to inspect a roof if it’s not more than 3 metres from the ground and safe to do so.

Where roof coverings cannot be seen our surveyor, will advise you of this in the report.

Click here to view our roof & chimney fact sheet.

The extent of our inspection on drainage systems varies depending on the service you choose.

HomeFact® Report

We will visually inspect and report on the condition of the above ground drainage (waste pipes). We do not lift inspection chamber covers to access the below ground drainage. Where a water supply is available and turned on, we will assess the ‘everyday use’ of the system which includes turning on taps and flushing toilets so the performance of the visible pipework can be observed.

RICS Home Survey Level 2

Houses & Bungalows – The surveyor will open all accessible, lightweight inspection chamber covers within the curtilage of the property, where it safe to do so and without causing damage. We will report on their general condition based on a visual inspection. The inspection chamber is visually inspected but neither the drains nor the drainage systems are tested; WC’s are not flushed and no running of water through the drainage system is undertaken.

Flats - Inspection chambers in common areas are not lifted.

RICS Home Survey Level 3

Houses and Bungalows - The surveyor will open all accessible, lightweight inspection chamber covers within the curtilage of the property, where it safe to do so and without causing damage. We will report on their general condition based on a visual inspection. Where a water supply is available and turned on, we will assess the ‘everyday use’ of the system which includes turning on taps and flushing toilets so the performance of the visible pipework can be observed.

Flats - Inspection chamber covers in common areas are not lifted.

The main walls are visually inspected, with the aid of binoculars where appropriate, although foundations and concealed parts are not exposed or inspected. Our surveyor will not only look for cracks to external brickwork or rendered finishes, but also misaligned window and door frames, sloping floors, internal cracks to walls and ceilings.

Our surveyor will determine, as far as is possible from a single visual inspection, the severity of the movement, the likely cause, whether this is on-going and whether any repairs or further investigations are required.

It should be appreciated that none of our surveys are structural surveys. A structural survey is a report prepared by a Structural Engineer.

Unless disclosed to our surveyor at the time of inspection, if is often impossible to determine during a visual inspection if a house has been previously underpinned. If you suspect the property has been underpinned in the past you should notify our surveyor ahead of the inspection.

Our surveyor will consider the level of insulation within the roof space. We will also comment on whether it is apparent if any insulation has been installed into the wall cavity.

Our report has a separate section for information and advice on the insulation within the property.

Like the roof of your home, walls keep the elements out and the heat in. All walls are either load bearing (i.e. they carry the weight of the structure including the roof and floors) or they are non-load bearing panels which provide weatherproofing and insulation in front of a structural load bearing frame.

The main walls are visually inspected, with the aid of binoculars where appropriate, although foundations and concealed parts are not exposed or inspected.

What is the extent of inspection on properties with concealed load bearing structural frames (timber frame, steel frame, PRC homes, concrete frames)?

Our surveys are non-invasive which means we do not open up the fabric of the building (i.e. remove bricks or internal plaster finishes) to view the concealed structural elements. If you wish to be certain the structural frame is free from defects, then you should instruct a more detailed report to be undertaken by a Structural Engineer. If in doubt you can speak to our surveyor or our support team who will be able to assist you further.

If our surveyor suspects the frame may be suffering from or at risk of serious defects then recommendations will be made within your HomeFact, Level 2 or Level 3 report.

We normally advise that you are not there for the survey as we do not want the surveyor to get distracted from his / her inspection.

Yes. We deal with the access and will call and arrange it all for you.

Yes. You should receive a text from us confirming the inspection date.

No, but we will visually inspect the services and give condition ratings and advice. We are not qualified to test services. If no recent test certification is available at the time of the inspection, then we will always recommend for them to be tested by a competent qualified person. Click here to see how we can help with this.

We comply with the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. By law you have 14 working days to cancel the service, starting on the day the contract is agreed. We may begin or deliver the service and report earlier than this because reports are often required quickly and/or access to the property has been given earlier. If you accept our Terms, you agree to us starting the service before the end of the 14 working day cancellation period and waive your right to cancel unless:

• The property has not been inspected, the report has not been issued and verbal advice has not been provided by our surveyor. A full refund can be provided.
• The property has been inspected, however the report or verbal advice has not been provided. If this is the case a refund of 50% can be provided.

Our verbal advice and report will not be provided to you until the agreed Terms have been returned. We strongly recommend that you do not commit to the proposed purchase until you have received the report and considered its contents. It is important to note that the report would not be issued following a legal commitment to purchase as the purpose of the report to provide you with information to make informed pre-purchase decisions will have been negated

You can cancel the contract by contacting us.

The rights set out above are in addition to your legal rights. Advice about your legal rights is available from your local Citizens Advice Bureau or Trading Standards office.

There is a difference between the valuation that a lender requires for your mortgage, and a survey. A mortgage valuation simply assures the mortgage lender that the market value of the house is not less than the amount they’re lending you. A valuation doesn’t include an assessment of items that do not impact value including the services or potential maintenance issues that could land a buyer with unexpected costs after they have bought a property. A survey is a more detailed inspection of the property and is carried out for your benefit as the buyer, so that you are better informed on the condition of the property. A homebuyer typically faces a minimum of £5,750 repair costs when they move into their new home.

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Countrywide Home Surveys is a trading name for Countrywide Surveyors Limited, registered in England and Wales under company no: 01954031.  Registered Office Greenwood House, 1st Floor, 91-99 New London Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 0PP.  VAT number 500 2481 05

Countrywide Surveyors Limited is regulated by RICS for the provision of surveying services. This means we agree to uphold the RICS Rules of Conduct for Firms and all other applicable mandatory professional practice requirements of RICS, which can be found at www.rics.org
As an RICS regulated firm we have committed to cooperating with RICS in ensuring compliance with its standards. The firm’s nominated RICS Responsible Principal is Martyn Stones, Director of Technical, Risk and Compliance, contact 01332 813096.

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