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If you’re buying a second-hand residential property, then, in our opinion, there are two good reasons why you should have the house or apartment surveyed by a professional. And by professional, we mean an architect, structural engineer or building surveyor, who has experienced in house surveying and professional indemnity insurance.

1. Caveat Emptor / Buyer Beware

The first reason is because of the legal rule of "caveat emptor" or "buyer beware" which applies to sales of property.  A seller of a property is under no duty to a purchaser to ensure that the building is free from defects. You will essentially be buying the property in the condition in which you find it.

Unless there is agreement on the point, it is up to you to satisfy yourself that the building is sound and fit for any particular purposes.

There are a few exceptions to this rule - such as where there has been fraud or negligent misrepresentation, or under certain types of construction contracts - but in general the physical condition of property is a concern of the purchaser, not the seller.

2. Cost Ratio

The second reason is that the cost of the survey versus the cost of the house is minute. Buying a house is one of the most important financial transactions in a person's life and possibly the largest transaction that they will ever engage in.

Nearly every property will have defects and some of which may be serious. In our view it is not sensible to embark on a major investment like this without having checked it out as thoroughly as is appropriate in all the circumstances. Its money well spent.

My friend is a builder. Can he do the survey for me?

If you ask a friend or a family member (whatever the qualifications) to survey the property for you and they miss something serious, it may be very difficult to take legal action for your loss due to their negligence. The safest course is to use a professional with the necessary professional indemnity insurance who you can take legal action against without embarrassment.

Is it necessary to have the property surveyed if my lender is getting the property checked out?

The report that the lender is typically requisitioning is a “valuation report”. They usually get valuers to do inspections to establish a value of the property necessary for them to ensure that the value of the loan corresponds with the amount of the proposed loan.  

Not all of the "valuers" used by lenders are architects or engineers. Most are not but are rather an auctioneer  estate agent. The valuer is not particularly concerned with defects except to the extent that they affect the value. 

Even an architect or engineer looking at a house to assess its value will not be looking for faults or checking all the matters he would check as part of a survey on behalf of a purchaser. 

Our advice is that you should place no reliance on the valuation carried out on behalf of your lender but should engage your own professional to survey the property for you.

How much does a survey cost?

We are often asked this question and it is not an easy question to answer however in our experience a surveyor’s report will probably cost you in and around €500 plus VAT.


We believe that every purchaser buying a second-hand property should have it surveyed by a professional. The cost of the survey comparative to the money being spent to buy the house or apartment is very small. The survey could prevent you from buying a property riddled with issues and save you from a costly mistake.


  1. Critical things to consider when buying or investing in property with a friend. 
  2. Can you buy auction property with a mortgage? 
  3. How to switch your mortgage
  4. Top tips for selling your house
  5. What are the costs and outlays when switching your mortgage? 
  6. Property Chains - Buying and Selling Simultaneously 


We have extensive experience in dealing with all matters relating to buying and selling residential properties. If you are looking to speak with an experienced solicitor, then please get in touch today for a no obligation quote.

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