Claiming for the professional negligence of your surveyor

31st January 2015 by

If you are looking to make a claim for professional negligence against a surveyor it is worth remembering that there are three different types of survey report and that for each of these different reports there is a different duty of care.


Sometimes called the “Mortgage Survey”, a simple property valuation is the most limited type of report compiled by a surveyor. It is usually prepared for a lender in cases where the buyer is looking to obtain a relatively small mortgage. The valuation fulfils three fundamental roles:

  • As verification that the property exists and has not been “invented” in order to fraudulently obtain a loan, without security
  • To ensure that the property is a viable proposition. For example, that it is not in a state of major disrepair or is in an area that makes it “uninvestable”
  • To ensure that its value will provide the lender with sufficient security in the event that the borrower defaults on repayments and repossession becomes necessary

Although the primary function of the valuation is likely to be to inform the lender, it is worth bearing in mind that the valuer nonetheless owes some duties to the purchaser. This is because it is reasonable to expect that the purchaser will rely in some way on the advice given. This point is underlined in the case of Yianni v Edwin Evans. However, because valuations are performed very quickly, sometimes in as little as half an hour, it is unreasonable for buyers to expect an in-depth breakdown of a property’s condition.

Home Buyers Report

A Home Buyers Report is a step up from a basic valuation. It can be many pages long, should provide details regarding the condition and construction of the property, and should certainly note any serious problems, such as obvious and significant problems with damp.

However, the Home Buyers Report looks only for problems which are “visible”.

Occasionally, surveyors might be ambiguous about potential problems with a property. So, for example, if a Home Buyers Report says that a problem “might” have problems with damp, it can be difficult to know how to proceed.

Structural survey

Structural surveys are several hundred pounds more expensive than a Home Buyers Report. They are intended to provide a full and in-depth summary of a property and should take a thorough look at the “nuts and bolts” of a house. They may take as long as a full day to complete and in the event that important defects or faults are not picked up, the purchaser is likely to have strong grounds for a claim for professional negligence against the surveyor.

Can you claim for a negligent survey?

If a surveyor, whether performing a simple valuation, a Home Buyers Report, or a structural survey has missed vital details that any reasonably competent surveyor would normally pick up, and you have suffered financial loss as a result, you may be able to make a claim for professional negligence against the surveyor.

For further advice and information regarding your rights and the possible cost-benefit of a claim, request a call back from Healys LLP today – professional negligence lawyers serving the whole of the United Kingdom.