First time buyers start here


If you are thinking about, or are have put an offer in on your first property we can provide help and advice with regard to building surveys, often known as structural surveys, home buyers reports, independent valuations, property surveys, engineers reports, structural reports, specific defects report or any other property matters .

We are independent building surveyors and unlike many surveyors we like to meet you at the property during the survey to answer any questions you may have and talk you through our survey process.

Please feel free to call us on free phone 0800 298 5424 for a chat with one of our surveyors.

Free phone 0800 298 5424

Where to start?

It is always very difficult to know where to start when you are looking for your new house. If you are reading this article you are probably starting in the right place and the Internet in general is a great place to search for new houses and our website has lots of useful information for first time buyers and second time buyers and even experienced buyers and we give independent advice.

The reason we give independent advice is because we are independent building surveyors and valuers and we hope from reading our articles you will appreciate the importance of having your own independent advice when buying a house.


Caveat Emptor

‘Caveat Emptor' translates as Buyer Beware; an important term as the buyer should indeed be aware as unless you have a building survey you may not find out any potential problems that the property you are buying may have. The estate agent certainly won't tell you if there are any problems as he is looking for a sale and the only way to be absolutely sure is to have a survey carried out by an independent building surveyor.

Hairline cracking on a wall

A bit more about the website

If you go to our home page and scroll down you will see all the articles which are sub-divided into the various sections. We have written a series of articles for first time buyers that talk generally about it, such as this article. It talks specifically about the characters you will meet, such as the estate agent and the financial adviser / sales person. These people will help or hinder you in the buying a house process and getting a mortgage.

We also talk about the people that you won't see, as the solicitors and chartered surveyors and give you help and advice with regard to these.

Here are some links to some examples of these:

A first time buyer's first experience of buying a property

Our experience of buying our first property

Do estate agents tell the truth or do they just want the house sale?

The unhealthy alliance between local surveyors and estate agents

Can you trust a surveyor's valuation?

First time buyers, where to start

Remember when you are buying a house it is important to have a good look around and see what's available as well as understanding what you can afford. It doesn't necessarily mean what mortgage you will be offered, but means the amount of money you are comfortable to pay back every month usually for many, many years.

New property

Take good time as a first time buyer

We would also recommend you take your time as a first time buyer and not be rushed into a purchase that you may later regret, no matter how good a property deal you are being offered usually something else will come along sooner or later.


Find a trusted and knowledgeable friend to discuss your house with

It is always worth as a first time buyer going to someone that has experienced the house buying process before and having a chat with them, however do remember that the house buying market has changed considerably over the years so their experience may be different. Most people only buy a house every few years, in fact the average is about every seven years.

Street view of post war properties

Remember the estate agent is selling a house for someone else

It's so important to remember that the estate agent gets paid when they sell the house and will do almost anything to sell it. Appreciating we have seen many estate agents, particularly the good ones befriend you and help, or should we say appear to help, you through the house buying process, however at the end of the day they are being paid by the people who they sell the house for.

Remember, some people may have a vested interest. It is very usual for the estate agents to be either owned by a mortgage lender or have agreements with a mortgage lender and will have a vested interest in you being offered a mortgage by them. You need to consider whether you are happy with this and as independent surveyors we obviously believe it well worth taking independent advice.

Traditional timber frame property

What can an independent surveyor do for you?

A company such as ours offer you independent advice and enable you to purchase a property with your eyes wide open. We can advise via our executive summary (known as the Good, Bad and the Ugly) of any problems, their solutions and their anticipated costs.


Our Good, The Bad and The Ugly Survey Reports

We would also like to tell you about our ‘good, bad and ugly' survey. This is a building survey, sometimes known as a structural survey, and is something that we have developed over many, many years. We will tell you all about the good points of the house, as well as all the potential problems we find, and also if there is something major wrong with the property, when there are major problems when we advise you seek a reduction in purchase price and (in very few cases) where we advise you against buying the property. We have listened to feedback from our clients and changed our survey reports to make them easy to read and understand.

Example sketch showing wall tie failure in cavity walls

What do the circles and ovals in our reports and articles mean?

The circles and ovals are a system that we use within our structural surveys and building surveys to highlight problem areas so that you are not left wondering what the problem is.

Circle shows an example of a pitched roof and flat roof

Does your solicitor act for you and the bank?

There is a very unusual situation that happens in property buying that the solicitor acts jointly for yourself and the mortgage company (bank or building society). Remember, they are not just acting for you. As the mortgage company is a regular customer you need to be aware that they will have procedures and processes in place that we would say don't necessarily act in your best interests, so be very aware who the solicitor is acting for as well as you.


When do we instruct a chartered surveyor you?

Again this can be a misleading area. Often you will have a chartered surveyor or chartered valuer who is working for the bank or mortgage company and is looking at the property from their point of view to see if they are happy to lend on it. The company is often part of the estate agent group or the mortgage lender, bank or building society and as such they may offer their services (and they may get commission for it) to carry out an additional survey for you whilst they are carrying out the survey for the bank. This all sounds very convenient but you do need to be aware of this potential conflict of interest and we feel regardless of what is said unless you have your own chartered surveyor working solely for you this can lead to problems.

We are a member of the Independent Surveyors and Valuers Association (often known as the ISVA) and you should look for the ISVA membership when appointing a surveyor.

We could say so much more but we will instead suggest you look at articles within our First Time Buyers section or articles within our various other sections.

Here are some links to other articles that we think may be of interest to you:

Glossary of building terms

Learn more about buying / selling your house

Dp surveyors really value the property or just rubber stamp the lending processs?

Independent financial advisers, are they independent?

Independent Surveyors

If you are first time buyer we recommend you have a building survey. Please contact us on free phone 0800 298 5424 to book a survey.

We would be happy to send you several examples of our building surveys or any other type of report via email.

We trust you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you believe should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not pause to contact us (we are only human).

We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).


The contents of the web site are for general information only and is not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision.


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Have a Structural Survey to protect you against structural problems

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How a Surveyor values a property, Chartered Surveyors and Regulated Valuers

How Chartered Engineers and Building Engineers can help you

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Structural Surveys and How We Can Help You

Traditional and Non-Traditional Houses and Mortgage Problems

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Whats the difference between a Chartered Building Surveyor, Chartered Surveyor and an Independent Surveyor

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