In this blog post, we are going to look at condition ratings and how they are applied in reports. We will focus on CR1 and CR2 ratings and briefly look at whether grading the majority of elements CR1 or CR2 in a home survey, may be a sign that you need to review how you apply them.
Before we start, we want to make something clear; applying only CR1 or CR2 ratings throughout a report does not mean a poor inspection has taken place, nor does it mean that the attribution of ratings is incorrect. However, surveyors must provide ratings in line with the condition rating descriptions, and in addition, be confident in their selection.
Having looked at so many home survey reports, we have devised a strategy to read reports in a particular way. This helps us to assess whether a report is not just meeting standards, but also whether it's working to its full potential for the client. One thing we initially like to do is to scan through the summary of ratings first, as any reader would do! We do this for a couple of reasons:
It gives us a feel for the overall condition of the property before we go on to do a full quality check.
It provides us with a preliminary view of how a surveyor 'sees' a property .
During our quality checks, when we see CR1 ratings for everything (and sometimes, we mean everything!), a few questions arise in our minds:
Is the property really in that good of a condition?
Is the report thorough enough - has the surveyor reported defects found?
Is the survey giving the reader (client) a realistic picture of the property's condition?
We see reports for all sorts of properties when quality checking, including very old properties. Although older properties typically have more 'issues', it's important to note that an old property doesn’t always equate to poor condition, as much as a new build doesn’t always equate to good condition - the latter is something we’ve learned from personal experience! When we undertake quality checks, we always like to look closely at how condition ratings are applied and that the rating matches both what is being written and the condition rating description.
A good example of where this wasn't applied, is a report we read a few weeks ago on a Victorian mid-terrace house. Almost 90% of elements were CR1-rated. This flagged our interest, as older houses typically have more defects. In this particular case, a loft conversion was not compliant with fire door and smoke detection regulations, yet CR1 was given. If there are health and safety concerns and the conversion doesn’t comply with regulations at the time it was built, it cannot be rated CR1.
On the other hand, a report full of CR2s may suggest the surveyor is hesitant in attributing a CR1 - this could perhaps be down to a lack of confidence, which is of course something we may all struggle with from time to time.
We often see reports where a CR2 might be given, yet there is no account of any active defect. For example, many reports we have read attribute CR2 to dated fittings like bathrooms. If there is no defect, then why is a superficial element being attributed beyond what might be deemed ‘normal maintenance’? When applying condition ratings, to reiterate, surveyors need to ensure that what is written reflects the rating and vice versa.
To best ensure our clients have complementary text to the ratings provided, we always reiterate the view that defects should be reported on a ‘worst-first’ basis. We cover this in my future-proofing home surveys programme (for programme info, please contact me here). To convey the reality of a property’s condition, the reader needs to know the good and the bad, but the bad should take precedence for any reader to understand why a particular condition rating may have been attributed.
In conclusion, condition ratings do not reflect the level of an inspection, but they do convey the reality of a home’s condition to the buyer. Therefore, surveyors must ensure that they refer to condition rating descriptions and apply the rating that gives the right ‘picture’ to the client. After all, we ask clients to get a sense of property by condition ratings, so they should at least make sense. There must be consistency in their application and there must also be alignment to the descriptions provided to the reader.
If you want to get in touch about your reports to discuss condition ratings or anything home survey related, feel free to ping us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or book a call with us here.