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Take precautions and survey the damage

A Metropolitan Police officer and his family found the idyllic cottage of their dreams in Richmondshire, North Yorkshire.

  • 11 December 2014
  • Author: James
  • Number of views: 2778
Take precautions and survey the damage


It was in the perfect location for the retreat they wanted to run as a holiday rental until they could retire to the cottage from Hertfordshire.

A building society survey identified no problems and the family were about to sign the contract to purchase the quaint stone-built, three-bedroom home.

Then the police officer talked to Gordon Carver, of Carver Building Surveyors, part of the Darlington-based Carver Group. Because of its age, Mr Carver strongly advised having an independent structural survey of the property.

The survey discovered serious faults that would have cost thousands of pounds to rectify, including a sagging roof that needed replacing and a lack of fire safety installations, including a fire escape, that would have prevented the premises being used as a holiday let.

The police officer, aged 52 with two children of school age, said: “The structural survey and legal fees cost about £600 in total, but it saved us several thousands of pounds in repairs and alterations, and the possibility that we could never have been able to let the property as a holiday cottage.

“We pulled out of the deal at the last minute and began to look elsewhere. We have now bought another house in Richmond after commissioning a structural survey that only identified very minor maintenance issues. It is now being decorated and made ready for letting by Easter.”

Gordon Carver said: “This is a salutary lesson for anyone thinking of buying an older property. People imagine that the survey conducted by their building society or other lender will identify structural problems but it won’t. Such a survey is a cursory examination that determines whether the property is worth the amount that the purchaser wants to borrow. It’s basically carried out to ensure that the lender could get their money back if the property was repossessed and placed on the market again.

“Only a private survey carried out by a professional surveyor on behalf of the purchaser will report on the condition of the property and, as in the case of the police officer’s family, whether or not it is suitable for its intended use.”

Contact: Gordon Carver, Carver Building Surveyors (part of the Carver Group) at 18 St Cuthberts Way, Darlington, County Durham DL1 1GB, telephone: 01325 370340. Email: Web:

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