We pride ourselves in carrying out an honest, professional and highly skilled service. When tradesmen carry out ‘free surveys’ they are usually doing so in the hope of finding one thing – work!
If a survey fee is paid, this covers the cost of our surveyors time, fuel, professional fees etc. and means that he is in no rush when he arrives at your property, and is under no pressure to ‘find work’. An honest, accurate assessment will be carried out. In 2018, we recommended no necessary remedial works on over 25% of the properties we surveyed.
Rather than trying to explain further, we will give two recent examples where a survey was paid for, but it actually worked out an awful lot cheaper than a free one.
A property in South Tyneside was on the market and had a prospective buyer. We were asked to carry out a damp survey on their behalf. We found no evidence of dampness at all during this survey, however we did notice some red spores, which can be an indicator of dry rot. Although we hadn’t been asked to look for dry rot (no one else had picked anything up at this point), our experience told us that these spores meant there was a fruiting body somewhere in the building. Sure enough, we lifted up some floor boards and checked the timbers underneath, to find an untreated outbreak of Dry Rot. This had spread throughout the ground floor. The cost of remedial works was £15,000.
I’m sure you can only imagine the relief of the potential buyer when they realised they were on the brink of buying a property with £15,000 worth of essential repairs, that no one had detected. They were able to negotiate with the seller to reduce the house price (by around £7,500 we believe) prior to going through with the sale. Would a local tradesman offering a ‘free survey’ have taken this much time to investigate the property, where initially no damp proofing was required? We doubt it. For starters, very few damp proofing companies have ever studied timber, and it’s very unlikely they would have recognised the spores. Secondly, they would probably have been out there looking to the next job as soon as the realised no damp proofing was required.
On the other end of the scale, a property in Gateshead was reported to have woodworm in the loft, and damp in the walls. Retention on the property was £5,000 (which means this is what the anticipated cost of works would be). In this case, the seller called us as they had lost a buyer when the report showed this up.
Inspection of the roof timbers revealed the woodworm was in fact Bark Borer – which means treatment was not required (see our Woodworm page). As for the damp – we found an airbrick externally was allowing water into the cavity, which was causing the wall to become damp. Solution – block up the airbrick. Our quote to the client – £0. Would a tradesman offering a ‘free survey’ really have quoted nothing, when there was a seller expecting to pay up to £5,000? We doubt it.
Remember this – you get what you pay for. Would you walk into a car garage and ask for the ‘cheapest car’ or into an electronics shop and ask for the ‘cheapest TV?’ Of course not. As for ‘free surveys’. Does anything in this world really come for free??