Property Surveys – Which one do I need?

If you’re in the process of buying a property, you will want to check its condition before you commit. Even apparently flawless homes can hide nasty secrets and it’s better to know while you can still negotiate on price or ask the vendor to carry out works at their own cost/inconvenience.

However, not all house surveys look at the same things. A Home Condition Report, for example, might be fine for a newer-build, but you’d need an in-depth Building Survey for something of significant age, unconventional or in bad condition.

If you’re thinking of arranging a house survey and need to decide which option to go for, help is at hand! We’ve put together some useful information comparing your choices and, if you still need expert help deciding, our friendly team will be happy to offer advice.

Let’s start with the basics…

What is a house survey?

A house survey is a property inspection to see if there are any current or future problems you need to be aware of. It might alert you to damp, old wiring, structural problems, or all manner of other issues you’d rather know about before it’s too late.

Our RICS Chartered Surveyors have years of experience in conducting property surveys and compiling reports for our valued clients. We offer three levels of survey to give you peace of mind as you proceed with a property purchase: Level 1 RICS Home Condition Report; Level 2 Homebuyers Report; and Level 3 Building Survey.

Do I need a house survey?

It’s usual to get a house survey when you buy a house or flat. Once the vendor has accepted your offer, it’s time to ask a professional to check the property before finalising contracts.

Although you’re not legally obliged to get a house survey, it’s not a good idea to proceed without one. The findings of a survey may change your mind about the property altogether or encourage you to negotiate on price. For example, if you discover the roof requires a significant amount of repair work, you can ask the vendor to take this off the price of the house or carry out the work themselves before you move in.

Is a mortgage valuation a house survey?

It’s likely that your mortgage lender will carry out a valuation before agreeing to lend you money. However, this should not be relied upon as it does not constitute a full survey.

Mortgage valuations are nowhere near as comprehensive as level 1, 2 or 3 property surveys carried out by a surveyor. The goal of the lender is simply to check the property accords with their lending criteria, so they can recoup their money if you stop repayments. Sometimes they won’t even visit the property in person.

Mortgage valuations should not be confused with house surveys, and you should always arrange an independent survey with a trusted professional.

Different types of survey

RICS Chartered Surveyors offer three levels of building survey. Choose the survey that best matches the property you’ve got in mind:

Survey Property type Overview More info
Level 1: RICS Home Condition Report Conventional and newer properties This basic survey looks at:

  • The property’s condition
  • Risks
  • Potential legal issues
  • Urgent defects
Find out more about Trinity Rose Level 1 Surveys.
Level 2: Homebuyers Report (Home Condition Survey with or without valuation) Standard properties in reasonable condition typically less than 100 years old and which have not been significantly extended/altered This is the most popular survey option. It covers everything in the Level 1 Survey plus ‘surface-level’ issues:

  • Review of timber/damp issues
  • Drainage
  • Insulation
  • Japanese Knotweed
  • Option to include a valuation
  • Insurance Reinstatement Valuation
Find out more about Trinity Rose Level 2 Surveys.
Level 3: Building Survey (commonly called a Structural Survey) Larger, older (100+ years), unusual properties, those in poor condition, homes you are planning to renovate, properties with significant extensions/alterations. The most comprehensive RICS survey includes everything in the other surveys plus detailed analysis of the construction/materials:

  • Potential problems caused by hidden flaws
  • Dangerous risks such as subsidence, structural movement, woodworm, and dampness
  • Repair options
  • Advice on what may happen if you don’t carry out repairs
Find out more about Trinity Rose Level 3 Surveys.

How long does a survey take?

The time it takes to carry out a building survey depends on several factors including the size of the property and the survey type you choose. The more in-depth options will take longer.

How much does a survey cost?

The more in-depth the survey, the more expensive it will be. However, it will be a fraction of the property price and worth it for peace of mind and the information needed to potentially negotiate on contract details/house price.

Please get in touch for a survey quote, including the option to add a property valuation.

Find out more

Please browse the website for more information about our building survey options. If you’re struggling to choose between a Level 1 Home Condition Report, Level 2 Homebuyers Report or a Level 3 Building Survey, please get in touch. Our friendly, knowledgeable team will be happy to offer advice.

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