7 Reasons Why You Failed a House Survey

A house survey plays a huge role whether you are buying or selling a house. From a buyer’s perspective, it only makes sense that you’d want the property you are purchasing to be in good condition — more so if you’re buying to let.

On the other hand, if you are a seller, a building survey is crucial as it can make or break the sale. As a bonus, an excellent survey report will put you in an excellent position to get the best offer for the property you are selling.

However, do you know what happens if you fail a house survey report? More importantly, do you want to know the possible reasons why you can potentially fail? If you answered yes to both of these questions, then read on.

Reasons why you may fail a house survey

Contrary to what many believe, there’s actually no such thing as a pass or fail in a house survey. You can, however, receive a ‘bad report’. Especially for someone who’ selling a property, a bad report can make a potential buyer walk away.

That said, here are 7 reasons why you may ‘fail’ a house survey. Knowing the most common problems found by surveyors should give you better chances of dealing with and preparing for them in advance.


Many homes suffer from damp problems in the UK. In fact, 61% of renters have had experiences with damp, mould, and leaking roofs. This is actually one of the most common complaints found in a house survey report.

A simple definition of damp is that it is the presence of moisture or water within a property, in areas where they are not supposed to. Any property can fall victim to damp problems without any warning and when left untreated, can lead to a whole lot of other issues such as:

  • Wet rot – though less severe, wet rot can still be harmful as it can affect the structural integrity of a property. It’s a fungus that attacks timber which can lead to severe cases of decay.
  • Dry rot – this is a way more serious form of fungal attack compared to wet rot. This type of rot can spread from timber to timber, drying and decaying the wood in the process. Dry-rot spores thrive when the moisture level is above 20%.
  • Condensation – too much humidity can cause condensation. It is more common in winter since this is the time when you use your heating system more often. Moisture and water will build up when warm air collides with cold surfaces.

Damage to structural timber

As mentioned earlier, damp problems will lead to even bigger problems when left unchecked. A surveyor will check for any damage to structural timber during the survey. Wet rot and dry rot are major factors of wood decay so if damp is present, the surveyor will most likely look for any sign of structural damage to timber.  

Structural movement

Another reason why you may get a ‘bad report’ during a survey is due to structural movement. You see, any built structure is constantly moving — it’s inevitable. But in most cases, these movements are on a very tiny scale that they’re unnoticeable. These movements are due to a variety of factors such as:

  • The ground movement beneath the foundation like subsidence
  • Faulty drains
  • Tree root growth
  • Thermal movement
  • The decay of the building fabric caused by woodworm, rot, etc.

Listed buildings, for instance, may have inherent defects that can potentially make it suffer from structural movement. In some cases, there are even older buildings that were built without foundations. So if you plan on buying and renovating an old building despite the survey making a note of this problem, be sure that you proceed with caution.


The roof is an essential part of a house, but unfortunately, it’s also one area that is not always easy to maintain. At the same time, it’s also prone to structural damage whether it’s because of the elements, the environment around you, or age. What you have to understand is that a damaged or defective roof can also lead to further problems like leaks, rotting, damp, etc.

If you are the seller, you might want to consider checking the roof before you even have a house survey carried out. If the damage you found is minimal, you can probably do the fixing yourself. If you can’t, getting help from a professional is your next best bet.

Roof problems can cause new owners thousands of pounds to fix. And if the survey notes this on the report, it’s possible that the sale won’t fall through. If it does, however, it would put the buyer in a better position to negotiate your asking price especially if you want them to take care of it.


Similar to the roof, windows are one of the things that a surveyor will not miss during the house survey. After all, windows play a significant role in your home’s energy efficiency. It provides insulation which allows for easier heating or cooling when necessary, all while reducing your energy consumption. And of course, the right windows can keep a home secure from intruders.

If mould has grown in areas around the window, it’s the perfect time to scrub it off. The surveyor will also check if the windows are opening and closing properly as they are supposed to, so keep that in mind. Rotten window frames are, of course, something that a surveyor take not of.

It’s also worth noting that new windows would not always mean better. That’s because in some cases, the older windows are being replaced with new but cheaper and less sturdy ones. It may also be that the new windows were installed either poorly or incorrectly.

Insect problems

Insects are essential creatures in the environment. However, no one wants to see them inhabiting a home, right? There are a lot of things that a surveyor will look for during a survey. Apparently, one of them is the presence of insects.

Why they’ll search a property for these pesky insects is because some species can harm not just the structure of the house but also the people living in it (like bedbugs, for instance). The good news is that this is an easy thing to fix as long as the type of insect infestation is already identified.

Electrical works

Certification is usually found through a sticker on the unit which is something that a surveyor will look for when checking on your electrical system. If this is not found or if your unit doesn’t have the correct certification, they will ask you to have an electrician check the condition of the system tested.

Although the system seems to be okay and is working alright, not having a certification can possibly mean that it was a DIY installation. For instance, a rewire can be an easy fix, but it’s not the safest of options which can cause a fire, electrocution, and a lot more.


Regardless if you are buying or selling a property, don’t be afraid of the survey report. If you’re the buyer, don’t be shy about reducing your offer for the property being sold. And if you’re the seller, fire away at the surveyor with any question that you have. If you feel like needed, seek professional help to further check on the areas mentioned in the report as well as estimate repair costs.


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