Cork Pre-Purchase Survey, House Survey, Structural Survey Report, Cork

Pre–Purchase Survey


Here at Niall Leahy, Chartered Consulting Engineers [], we believe that knowing as much as you can about the condition of a property, be it a house or building, before you buy will help you avoid problems and extra costs down the track. The best way of doing this is to get a Pre–Purchase Survey inspection report – sometimes known as a house survey report or structural survey report.

The following information explains what you need to know about Pre–Purchase Surveys, and house buying checklists/guides are available at the end of the page.

What is in our Pre–Purchase Survey Report?

It’s one of the different types of building inspection reports you can get done in Ireland. As the name says, this building inspection report is the one you get before you buy a property or house.

Traditionally referred to as a 'structural survey’, our pre–purchase survey inspection report contains more than just structural issues (see below). It is a written account (with photographs) of the condition of a property, and items observed that may affect its value. It will tell you about any significant building defects or problems such as rising damp, movement in the walls (cracking), safety hazards or a faulty roof to name a few.

A Structural Survey is more suitable for buildings that require analysis of settlement that has already taken place, or where a purchaser is not interested in the other factors that affect a buildings value. We also provide these.

Surveys and inspections are usually carried out before you exchange sale contracts so you can identify any problems with the property which could prove costly to repair. Throughout this web page we will refer to the survey report as a ‘Pre-Purchase Survey’.


Why do I need one?

There are at least four good reasons why you should get a house survey done before you buy a house:

  1. so you will know in advance what the problems are
  2. so you can use the information to try and negotiate a lower price for the house so that you won't have to pay to repair some of the problems, eg. roof replacement, and know approximately what these problems will cost
  3. so you can get specialist advice about any major problems and how they will affect the house over time, and its re-sale value.
  4. so you can prevent the problem arising in the event of a re-sale, re-mortgage or property transfer in the future.


Choosing the right person to inspect your house purchase

You should always use a suitably qualified person, such as a chartered consulting engineer with both Professional Indemnity and Public Liability insurance, to provide a professional pre-purchase survey of the house you are thinking of buying. These professionals will know what to look for, and will see through any cosmetic improvements covering up faults that might otherwise be missed by an untrained eye.

Make sure that the person you choose has an adequate level of insurance cover, particularly for professional indemnity, but ideally also for public liability in case of damage caused. Most, if not all,  mortgage institutions and solicitors will not accept reports from engineers that do not carry professional indemnity insurance.

Ask to see reviews or testimonials from previous clients. See our Client_Testimonials page for some feedback from our clients. 

Most importantly, ask for a breakdown of what will be provided in the survey report so you know what you are getting and you can compare quotes like with like.


The format and amount of detail in the report will depend on the type of property, its size, age and condition. These factors will also influence the cost of the report.

Generally, our Pre-Purchase Surveys have standard and comprehensive format options, though some are individually tailored for each property. Photographs are usually included. 

A Pre-Purchase Survey includes enough information for you to be aware of the property's condition and identify any significant problems.

However, survey reports are generally visual inspections only and may not identify major structural defects or other hidden problems. Other concerns might require obtaining specialist advice from eg. pest inspector, geotechnical engineer, drain inspector, solicitor, electricity supply authority or water supply authority.

Our surveys, where accessible, can include the following items and more:

  • exterior of the building
  • grounds and boundaries
  • roof space
  • roof exterior
  • water tank & pipes 
  • fire safety
  • utility services, electricity installation, water valve location
  • structure & subsidence
  • damp & mould
  • timber defects
  • radon
  • fireplaces & chimneys
  • flashings, gutters, downpipes
  • cost ranges of items requiring attention

More comprehensive surveys typically include further items in addition to the above, such as running heating systems, opening all windows, operating all taps, etc. Contact us to request a detailed quotation and itemised scope of survey.

Other details

It is normally the role of your conveyancer or solicitor to deal with all law–related matters. The building inspection report cannot comment on things like the location of boundaries on title maps in relation to boundaries on site, but this service can be quoted for. Also, a Planning Permission search is sometimes requested and we can also quote for this service. This would inform the purchaser whether planning conditions have been complied with, preventing a problem in the event of a re-sale or re-mortgage in the future.


Things not included

A pre-purchase survey usually will not include:

  • parts of the property that were not or could not be inspected
  • matters outside the consultant’s expertise
  • a detailed estimate of repair costs
  • minor defects

A building inspection report should not be seen as an all-encompassing report dealing with every aspect of the property. Rather it should be seen as a reasonable attempt to identify any major problems that are visible at the time of the inspection. The extent of any problem will depend to a large extent upon the age and type of property. While the report will give you valuable expert advice, it will not cover everything.

The consultant normally would not check things such as:

  • foundations
  • concealed damp-proofing
  • wiring 
  • plumbing and drainage and gas pipe tests
  • kitchen appliances and ranges
  • ducted vacuum systems
  • stoves and electric fires
  • television reception.


Factors affecting the report

There may be certain conditions you should be aware of that will affect the final report. These include:

  • problems that may be difficult to detect due to weather or other conditions such as rising damp and leaks
  • limited information provided to the consultant from the vendor
  • problems that may have been deliberately covered up to make an area appear problem free.

It may be difficult to detect leaks and other problems if services, such as water, have not been used for some time. For example, if the shower has not been used recently, leaks or dampness may not be obvious.


Ordering a report

We usually need a minimum of 2–3 days notice to do a pre-purchase survey.

When ordering your pre-purchase survey, make sure you give yourself enough time to make a decision. You should get the vendor’s permission to have the property inspected as early in the sale negotiations as possible. This will help you decide if the property is worth buying. There may be little point in spending money on conveyancing until you know the condition of the property. It is also wise to ensure that power and water are supplied to the property, and that the vendor's permission is given in writing that the heating system can be turned on and inspected where desired.


Other types of reports

Structural Survey

This report would focus primarily on the structure of the property and assess past subsidence or settlement. It would be a record of cracks and other indicators present, with a view to trying to establish the likelihood of further movement. Crack indicators may be fitted to the building, and/or a level survey taken of level indicators, to create a snapshot of current movement. This enables any future survey to establish if there was further movement in the intervening period.


Damp & Mould Survey

This kind of report normally entails analysing the current presence of damp and mould in a dwelling or building and trying to establish the reasons for its existence. There can be several factors that lead to a damp/mould problem and each case is different. The problem can be a combination of any of site profile, dwelling characteristics and/or the way it is used.


Pre-sale (vendor) building reports

Vendors will sometimes get a building report on the property they are selling so they can give it to interested buyers. While this can be helpful, it is better from your point of view to get your own independent report.


If you are not satisfied

If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of the report or your dealings with us, we would appreciate if you would contact us in the first instance so that we can do whatever we can to resolve the issues. We see customer satisfaction as a priority and we adhere to a Customer Service Charter which can be viewed on request.

For peace of mind, we maintain adequate insurance cover for Professional Indemnity and Public Liability, which can be supplied to your solicitor or mortgage institution on request.


For homebuyers..... 

Tips on buying property

National Consumer Agency - Buying a Home Guide

Purchasing a House - Checklist

Call For Property Tax Relief For People Who Pay Management Fees