What does my Engineer or Surveyor provide?

We have gone ‘Sale Agreed’ on our first home and our solicitor has advised us to get the services of an engineer.  What services will my engineer provide, and is the valuation survey supplied to my bank for mortgage purposes the same thing?


A home is the most expensive purchase most people ever make, therefore, as a buyer, you will benefit from getting expert advice on the condition of the property – whether you plan to live in it, rent it or sell it.  Hidden defects, including broken sewerage pipes or drains, damaged chimneys, faulty wiring, pyrite or a host of other headaches can often be disguised under a fresh lick of paint.

However, while every property has its ‘issues’ the majority are rectifiable for a small cost when compared with the overall purchase price – you just need to know what they are.

An engineer’s pre-purchase survey is intended to be a detailed inspection of a property’s condition, focusing on:

  • Structural problems like subsidence or roof spread.
  • Major repairs needed like roof repairs, chimney repairs, rewiring or re-plumbing.
  • Expert advice on the property, from the type of wall to the type of glazing.
  • Your engineer can also advise on the likelihood of encountering asbestos, lead or radon in the property.

This will help you avoid expensive mistakes, but can also provide you with peace of mind, by telling you that those hairline cracks don’t mean that the house is falling down.  For those who have never owned a property before, a survey can be immensely reassuring.

With the information from the survey you might reconsider whether to buy the property or alter how much you’re willing to pay for it and, if necessary, budget for any repair work that will need doing. You could also discuss with the vendor if they would be willing to have this work completed before the sale.

Any comprehensive survey should also include a check of the site boundaries associated with the property for sale, against the Land Registry records to ensure your future ownership is registered correctly.

While lending institutions require a valuation survey to secure the loan on the property, it has no interest in flaws or defects in a property. The bank’s sole concern is that the property is correctly valued, regardless of the physical condition, unlike an engineer’s survey.

Originally published in the Galway Advertiser.