What Are Searches & What is a Survey?

Updated: May 1

Buyer Beware applies to your property purchase therefore you must obtain searches and survey and inspect the property.

You should also raise relevant enquiries via your Conveyancer and instruct an expert to check things like the electrics and heating. Your Conveyancer will organise searches for you to check connection to water mains in storage.

Bear in mind: It is not the seller’s responsibility to ensure that these things are working for you. Having said that they should not misrepresent the situation if asked. Therefore, it is advisable to get any confirmations in writing via your Conveyancer.

On completion you take the property subject to any issues or repairs.

You are liable to pay for the same.

The seller is NOT (unless you can prove a misrepresentation and your subsequent loss).


  • Your Conveyancer orders searches on your behalf but you pay for these. Usually a Local, Water & Drainage, Flooding & Environmental Search. In Wales a Coal Mining Search is often needed.

  • Local searches reveal Council held information such as road adoption, financial charges against the property, planning and building regulations (or lack of).

  • Environmental searches reveal if the property is built on contaminated land. Where land is contaminated it is the landowners responsibility to remediate / resolve this and not the person who caused the contamination

  • Water and drainage searches indicate whether the property is connected to the water mains and sewers and whether the property is built over any sewers which could result in access issues to repair them.

  • Flooding searches indicate if the property is at a high risk of flooding as clearly this would be detrimental to your enjoyment of the property.

  • Coal mining searches reveal whether there are historic mines in proximity. If so, the property could potentially suffer from subsidence affecting properly value and of concern to buyers and lenders.


Your conveyancer has absolutely nothing to do with the survey. This is entirely your responsibility to arrange.

It is against legal advice to proceed without a survey as this will reveal the physical condition of the property. It will be carried out by a Chartered Surveyor who is an expert in their field.

A simple web search will reveal Surveyors in your area.

Your conveyancer has no involvement in checking the physical condition of the property. They will NOT visit the property during the transaction. Your conveyancer’s sole responsibility is in checking the legal title.

Your conveyancer is relying upon you to tell them about any alterations or physical issues such as whether you have a right-of-way over a piece of land used to access the property. For example, does the property have a shared driveway or private access road? Tell your Conveyancer so they can check you have the rights you need In the title deeds.

Your local search indicates what is and is not adopted highway. Do you have a right of way to pass over the property accessway where it is not adopted? Who maintains and repairs the accessway? You should draw this to your conveyancer‘s attention. They will need to investigate this for you. They may be unaware that the property requires passage over a private access road.

As your Conveyancer does not visit the property they need you to advise them of any possible concerns or issues. They will then raise appropriate enquiries and obtain a written response for you. Your conveyancer will need your assistance in that respect.

Lender valuation

Your mortgage lender will want their own valuation to ensure the property is sufficient security for their mortgage.

It is not recommended that you rely on a lender’s valuation as they are not detailed and are obtained for the lender’s benefit.

They can be desktop or drive-by valuations with very little detail. They would not involve a proper check of the physical condition of the property. Hence no conveyancer would advise you to rely on this alone

Homebuyer survey

This is far more detailed and would require the surveyor to attend at the property and physically inspect. They will highlight areas of concern. They will note alterations which required planning or building regulations. They will point out structural issues and concerns which could devalue the property.

It is recommended that you obtain a homebuyer survey as a minimum.

A homebuyer survey will include a section regarding legal issues to refer to your conveyancer.

For example, this may reveal a potential right-of-way issue or recommend your conveyancer checks that relevant planning permission and or buildings regulations are available for alterations.

It is impossible to cover all potential issues so please bear in mind that this is a very general guidance note.

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