What Type Of Survey Should I Have




Understanding house surveys

Definition and Purpose

House surveys are essential inspections carried out to assess the condition of a property before purchase. They aim to identify any structural issues, defects, or potential risks within the building.

House surveys serve as crucial tools for both buyers and sellers in understanding the true condition of a property. They provide in-depth insights that help in making informed decisions regarding the purchase or sale of a house.

Role of Surveyors

Surveyors play a vital role in conducting house surveys. These professionals are trained to evaluate various aspects of a property, including its structure, plumbing, wiring, and overall safety standards.

Surveyors use their expertise to detect any hidden problems that may not be visible during a regular viewing. Their detailed reports guide buyers on whether to proceed with the purchase, renegotiate the price, or address necessary repairs.

Importance in Property Buying Process

House surveys are integral steps in the property buying process as they provide peace of mind to buyers. By uncovering potential issues early on, surveys help buyers avoid unexpected costs and future complications.

Moreover, lenders often require a survey before approving a mortgage to ensure the property’s value aligns with the loan amount. This protects both the buyer and the lender from investing in a property with underlying problems that could affect its resale value.

Types of house surveys

RICS Home Survey Levels

When considering what type of survey should I have, it’s crucial to understand the various options available. The RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) offers three levels of home surveys: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. These surveys cater to different property types and inspection depths.

Level 1 is a basic inspection suitable for newer properties or those in good condition. It provides a general overview without detailed information on the property’s condition. This survey is ideal for conventional homes that are well-maintained.

Level 2, also known as the HomeBuyer Report, is more comprehensive than Level 1. It includes an extensive visual inspection and highlights any significant issues that may affect the property’s value. This survey is recommended for properties built within the last 100 years.

Level 3, commonly referred to as the Building Survey or Structural Survey, offers the most detailed assessment. It involves a thorough inspection of all accessible areas and provides in-depth information on the property’s condition. This survey is suitable for older properties, listed buildings, or those in poor condition.

Differences Between Surveys

Understanding the disparities between RICS Home Survey Level 1, RPSA Home Condition Survey, and RICS Building Survey can help you choose the most appropriate option based on your property’s requirements.

The RICS Home Survey Level 1 focuses on identifying significant issues that could impact the property’s value but does not delve into extensive detail about these problems. In contrast, the RPSA Home Condition Survey provides a more comprehensive examination of a property’s condition, offering detailed insights into potential maintenance issues.

On the other hand, the RICS Building Survey goes beyond both Level 1 and Level 2 surveys by providing an in-depth analysis of a property’s structure and condition. This survey is recommended for older properties with complex structural elements or extensive renovation needs.

New Formats for Home Surveys

In March 2021, RICS introduced updated formats for home survey reports to enhance clarity and consistency across all levels of surveys. These new formats aim to improve communication between surveyors and homeowners by presenting information in a more accessible manner.

The revised formats include standardized sections such as an executive summary, clear ratings for different aspects of the property, detailed observations with accompanying photographs where necessary, and recommendations for further actions or investigations if required.

Choosing the right survey

Factors to Consider

When selecting a house survey, it is crucial to consider various factors to ensure you make an informed decision. Factors such as property type, age, and condition play a significant role in determining the most suitable survey for your needs. Older properties, for instance, may require a more comprehensive survey due to potential structural issues.

RICS Survey Levels

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) offers different levels of surveys from Level 1 to Level 3.

  • Level 1: This is a basic visual inspection suitable for newer properties or homes in good condition.
  • Level 2: Also known as the HomeBuyer Report, this intermediate level survey provides more detail than Level 1 and is ideal for properties in reasonable condition.
  • Level 3: The Building Survey, which is the most comprehensive option, recommended for older properties or those needing significant renovation.

Choosing the Right Survey

To choose the appropriate survey based on your specific needs and budget, follow these guidelines:

  1. Assess your requirements based on the property type and its age.
  2. Consider your budget and how much you are willing to invest in the survey process.
  3. Evaluate whether any specific concerns, such as structural issues or maintenance requirements, need addressing.
  4. Consult with professionals if you are unsure about which survey would best suit your needs.

Survey costs breakdown

RICS Home Survey Levels

When it comes to survey costs, breaking down the expenses for different types of surveys is crucial. For instance, RICS Home Survey Level 1 typically costs between £250 and £400. This level provides a basic overview of the property’s condition.

For more detailed assessments, consider the RICS Home Survey Level 2 and Level 3. The Level 2 survey involves a more in-depth inspection, costing around £400 to £700. Meanwhile, the Level 3 survey, which is the most comprehensive, can range from £700 to £1,000 or more.

RPSA Home Condition Surveys

When looking at survey costs, it’s essential to understand the typical expenses associated with RPSA Home Condition Surveys. These surveys focus on assessing the overall condition of a property in detail. The cost for an RPSA Home Condition Survey generally falls within the range of £300 to £600.

Factors Influencing Survey Costs

Survey costs can vary significantly depending on various factors such as the size and location of the property, the depth of inspection required, and the expertise of the surveyor. Properties in urban areas might incur higher survey costs compared to rural locations due to increased demand and market dynamics.

Moreover, properties requiring extensive inspections due to age, structural complexity, or potential issues like dampness or subsidence may result in higher survey expenses. Factors like additional services such as thermal imaging surveys or drone inspections can also contribute to an increase in overall costs.

Importance of surveyors

Expert Guidance

Qualified chartered surveyors play a crucial role in the property market, offering expert advice on various aspects of properties. They are members of professional bodies like RICS or RPSA, ensuring high standards.

Surveyors assess properties for structural integrity, potential issues, and overall condition. Their expertise helps buyers make informed decisions by providing detailed reports on the property’s state.

Benefits of Engaging Professionals

Engaging a reputable surveyor brings numerous benefits to property buyers. Accurate survey reports provided by these professionals highlight any existing problems or future risks in a property.

  • Expertise: Chartered surveyors have specialised knowledge and experience in evaluating properties accurately.
  • Peace of Mind: Buyers can make informed decisions based on comprehensive survey reports, reducing the risk of unexpected costs post-purchase.
  • Negotiation Power: Armed with detailed information from a surveyor’s report, buyers can negotiate better terms with sellers.

Mortgage valuation vs survey

Purpose Comparison

A mortgage valuation is conducted by the mortgage lender to assess the property’s value for loan approval. It aims to protect the lender’s investment rather than the buyer’s interests.

On the other hand, a property survey is carried out by a chartered surveyor hired by the buyer. Its primary goal is to provide an in-depth analysis of the property’s condition and highlight any potential issues.

Limitations of Mortgage Valuation

A mortgage valuation is a basic assessment that focuses on determining if the property’s value aligns with the loan amount. It does not delve into detailed inspections or identify structural problems.

While it provides an estimate of the property’s worth, a mortgage valuation may not uncover hidden defects or maintenance issues that could lead to costly repairs in the future.

Importance of House Survey

Despite having a mortgage valuation, obtaining a comprehensive house survey is crucial for buyers. A house survey offers a detailed inspection of the property, including its structure, condition, and potential risks.

Unlike a mortgage valuation, a house survey provides buyers with valuable insights into any underlying problems that may not be visible during a standard valuation process.

Benefits of House Survey

  • Reveals potential structural defects or maintenance issues.
  • Helps buyers make informed decisions about their purchase.
  • Provides peace of mind by ensuring transparency regarding the property’s condition.

Why Both are Necessary

While a mortgage valuation is necessary for securing a loan, it primarily benefits the lender. On the contrary, a house survey prioritises the buyer’s interests by offering detailed information about the property’s condition.

Maximising survey benefits

Prompt Action

Survey findings hold crucial information that can impact your property’s value and safety. Promptly acting on these results is essential to address any issues efficiently and prevent potential problems.

Taking swift action based on the survey outcomes can help you avoid costly repairs or legal complications in the future. Ignoring or delaying necessary repairs identified in a survey could lead to more significant damage over time, affecting both the property’s value and your safety.

Negotiation Strategies

Utilise the survey results as a negotiation tool when discussing property prices or necessary repairs with sellers. Highlighting specific issues identified in the survey can provide leverage for price reductions or agreements on repair costs.

By presenting concrete evidence from a professional survey, you can negotiate more effectively and ensure that any necessary repairs are addressed before finalising the property purchase. Being prepared with detailed survey findings gives you a stronger position during negotiations.

Leveraging Survey Data

After receiving the survey report, consider obtaining quotes from contractors for any repair work required. Comparing these quotes with the estimated costs mentioned in the survey can help you make informed decisions and negotiate fair prices for repairs.

Sharing the survey findings with sellers can encourage transparent discussions about addressing any issues before completing the sale. Collaborating with sellers based on the survey results can lead to mutually beneficial agreements regarding property conditions and pricing.

New build surveys


New build surveys are crucial for homebuyers to ensure the property’s build quality and condition. These surveys provide detailed insights into the structural integrity of new homes, helping buyers make informed decisions.

Surveys on newly built properties help in identifying any repair work or issues that may not be visible during a standard viewing. By conducting a thorough survey, buyers can avoid unexpected costs and ensure that the property is in good condition.


When conducting surveys on new builds, it is essential to focus on the condition survey specific to recently constructed properties. These surveys should pay close attention to the materials used, construction techniques, and compliance with building regulations.

Buyers should also consider obtaining a homebuyer report tailored for new homes. This report typically includes an assessment of the property’s condition, any potential risks or defects, and advice on necessary actions to address identified issues.


Identifying potential issues early through new build surveys offers numerous benefits to homebuyers. By uncovering any defects or concerns at an early stage, buyers can negotiate repairs with developers or sellers before finalising the purchase.

Moreover, new build surveys provide peace of mind to buyers by ensuring that their investment is sound and free from major structural problems. This proactive approach not only saves money in the long run but also helps in avoiding future disputes related to undisclosed issues.

Dealing with survey issues

Common Problems

Survey reports may highlight structural problems or other issues like subsidence that can be concerning for buyers. These findings can lead to uncertainties and delays in the purchasing process.

Buyers might face limitations due to these problems, such as the need for ongoing maintenance or costly repairs post-purchase. It is crucial to address these concerns promptly and efficiently.

Handling Identified Issues

Upon encountering significant survey issues, seeking expert advice is advisable. Experts can provide guidance on taking reasonable steps to address the problems effectively.

Buyers should conduct a thorough investigation into the reported issues, ensuring they understand the extent of the problem. This step is vital in making informed decisions regarding the property purchase.

Options for Buyers

When faced with substantial survey problems, buyers have several options available. They can negotiate with sellers to undertake necessary repairs before finalising the purchase.

Buyers may also consider requesting additional information or conducting further inspections to gain clarity on the reported issues. This approach enables them to make well-informed decisions based on comprehensive data.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros:
    • Allows buyers to address potential structural issues before finalising the purchase.
    • Provides an opportunity for negotiation with sellers regarding repairs or price adjustments.
  • Cons:
    • May lead to delays in completing the purchase process.
    • Additional costs may arise from conducting further investigations or repairs post-purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of house surveys available?

House surveys include Homebuyer Reports, Building Surveys, and Condition Reports. Each serves a specific purpose, offering varying levels of detail and inspection. Choosing the right survey depends on factors like property age, condition, and your budget.

How do I choose the right survey for my property?

Consider factors such as the age and condition of the property, your budget, and how thorough you want the survey to be. Consulting with a professional surveyor can help you determine the most suitable survey type for your needs.

What is the importance of hiring surveyors for a property survey?

Surveyors have the expertise to assess a property’s condition accurately. They can identify potential issues that may not be visible to an untrained eye. Their detailed reports provide valuable insights into a property’s structural integrity, helping you make informed decisions.

What is the difference between mortgage valuation and a house survey?

A mortgage valuation is conducted for the lender’s benefit to ensure the property’s value covers the loan amount. In contrast, a house survey is carried out for your benefit, focusing on identifying any structural issues or defects in the property that could affect its value or safety.

How can I maximise the benefits of a house survey?

Review your survey report carefully and seek clarification on any points you don’t understand. Use the findings to negotiate repairs or adjustments with the seller if necessary. The information from the survey can also help you plan future maintenance and renovations effectively.

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