This is a question many house buyers ask, especially if they are buying a modern property. It is a reasonable question to ask as the survey fee might be seen as one expense which could be avoided at this expensive time when ‘there’s probably nothing wrong with the house anyway’.
If you are in this situation, think carefully. A recent survey of a modern bungalow included the usual visual inspection of drainage inspection chambers. Nothing was immediately apparent, but a careful inspection indicated some evidence of backing up. Running some water through the drains indicated a blockage and a subsequent test of the drains revealed serious defects which would be expensive to rectify, particularly because of the depth of the drains and the awkward access. In the light of this the purchaser was able to negotiate a price reduction to reflect the repair costs.
Another survey of a newly built house revealed that part of a rafter in the roof structure had been completely omitted. Somehow this had escaped the notice of the various people who had carried out ‘final inspections’ to confirm that the house had been satisfactorily completed. The surveyor notified the site agent who immediately inspected, was horrified, and quickly had the defect rectified. Had this not been done, a snow load or high winds could have caused a partial collapse of the roof and it is doubtful that, given the circumstances, an insurance company would have accepted a claim.