Why a lender’s valuation is not enough

When you are buying a new home, the costs can mount up. We understand that many people are going to be considering where they can trim these costs, and to use the mortgage lender’s survey instead of commissioning your own can seem, on the surface, one place to do so.

Is that the right call to make? Genuinely, with your best interests at heart, we feel that it isn’t. Our expert team at Harrison Clarke, one of the leading chartered surveyors in the Hampshire area, is hugely experienced in this area. 

In this article, we explain – through some questions we are often asked – why we recommend that you get your own survey done.

Key Points

  • Lender’s valuation is often automated and not thorough.
  • Lender’s valuation focuses on risk management, not property condition.
  • Lender’s valuer might not inspect all areas, like roof space.
  • Important defects could be missed, leading to expensive repairs.
  • Valuers lack deep building pathology knowledge.
  • Chartered building surveyors have in-depth expertise.
  • MRICS/FRICS surveyors can provide comprehensive reports, simplifying the process and reducing overall costs.
  • Ensure your surveyor’s report turnaround is quick to avoid lending process delays.
  • Delays can lead to losing mortgage deals or moving chain breakdowns.
  • Consider Level Three Building Survey for comprehensive insight.
  • Lender’s surveyor has no liability to the homeowner.
  • Duty of care is to the lender, not the buyer.

The lender is sending a surveyor – isn’t that enough?

Your lender might be completing a valuation on the property you are looking to buy, but this is more often becoming an automated process and their surveyor might not even set foot in the property. 

The lender’s valuation is completed for the lender’s purposes of risk management, to ensure that the security, i.e. the home you are buying, is sufficiently valuable to recoup their investment if you can no longer pay your mortgage. 

This means that your lender’s valuation is giving you basically no heads up on the condition of the property, and therefore no protection should anything be wrong with that property.

Even if their valuer does attend the property, they might not go into the roof space, which means they can miss a number of important defects which could prove very expensive for you to repair.

Surely, they will spot structural problems?

Sometimes a lender’s valuation will flag up an apparent defect that they say requires further investigation. They might have spotted structural cracking or dampness which could be costly to fix. 

It is interesting to note that, when the valuer recommends further investigation, it does not necessarily mean that the valuer lacks the expertise for reporting on these defects. It is simply the fact that their instructions from the lender limit their activity, to keep costs down both for you and the lender in most instances. 

That said, most valuers do not have the same in-depth building pathology knowledge that an experienced chartered building surveyor has.

If they do recommend further investigation, it is you that will incur more expense in hiring the relevant expert to carry out that further investigation.

Sometimes, a lender will ask for multiple investigations, such as damp reports and structural engineers’ reports. 

Most lenders will allow a MRICS (Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) or FRICS (Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) chartered building surveyor to complete such reports, which means that they can carry out any required further investigations as a ‘one stop shop’ service. This simplifies the process for you and potentially reduces your overall costs. 

If you find yourself in this position, our team of qualified chartered surveyors will be happy to help you. 

Tip: It is critical to ensure that your surveyor can turn such reports around quickly, so as not to slow down the lending process. Delays in lending can lead to bigger problems, such as losing the mortgage deal you are locked into, and you might suffer from rising rates. 

Another unwanted scenario would be delays dealing with these further investigations causing a moving chain breakdown. 

By the time you have asked the building surveyor to report on defects flagged by your lender’s valuer, you might as well have commissioned a Level Three Building Survey which will provide all the detail your lender requires and more, giving you a detailed picture of the condition of your property. 

What liability do lenders’ surveyors have to the homeowner?

In a word, none. The lender’s surveyor owes a duty of care to their client, who is the lender, and not you. Therefore, if they miss a major structural defect at the property, you will not be able to make a claim against them. 

We recommend that you commission your own survey as this will help you to understand your building in depth, along with any defects that you need to address to enable you to make an informed purchasing decision.

How Harrison Clarke can help

We have other videos about your survey options on our YouTube channel, which you can access here, as well as various articles on our website that are packed with useful information and guidance.

Our experienced and helpful team of chartered building surveyors at Harrison Clarke is available for a friendly chat about surveys, and they will be happy to answer any other questions you may have.

Call our expert and highly qualified surveyors on 023 8155 0051, or email us at info@harrisonclarke.co

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Discover something you would like to know more about?

Tim Clarke, Director at Harrison Clarke chartered surveyors.

About the author

Tim Clarke


Tim set up Harrison Clarke Chartered Surveyors in July 2017 following a series of public and private sector surveying roles, having previously worked for the University of Cambridge, Rund Partnership, Goadsby, and CBRE. 

Tim has degrees in building surveying, construction project management, and business administration.