Once you have found a property to buy, you will most likely need to instruct a chartered surveyor to check the structural condition of the building.
Your mortgage provider will conduct its own valuation of the property, but most people want the reassurance of their own dedicated structural survey on the property they wish to buy. Before you choose a surveyor, make sure you know which kind of survey you need and what you're expecting the surveyor to produce. This is likely to depend on what kind of home you're buying.
Which survey do you need?
Think about the type of home you're buying and which kind of survey you should choose to provide you with the information you need. Do you need a Homebuyer's Report or a Full Building Survey? This will be determined by the age of the property, the design and even problems you may have witnessed while at the viewing.
Find out more about the surveys available and what your surveyor will do.
If possible, make sure the surveyor has a good knowledge of the local area and the various houses and flats within it. Similarly, if you're buying a very particular type of property, such as a listed building or a very unusual construction, it pays to source a surveyor that specialises in such properties. Convey to the surveyor the type of property you're looking to buy and ask what experience they have had and what common problems they might expect to find.
Price should always be a consideration when choosing a surveyor. You should organise at least two or three telephone quotations. You might be surprised by how much they vary. Avoid just choosing the cheapest, as this may indicate a poorer service. As a guide, the table below indicates what you should expect to pay, although this will vary by survey, by the value of the property, by surveyor and by which region of the country you live in.
Average cost of surveys
What will you get from your surveyor?
Seek clarification on exactly the level of detail the survey will go into. Otherwise, you might be disappointed if you expected a thorough inspection of the property and only get a general overview. The surveyor should inform you of what you should expect, depending on which survey you choose to have. Also, make sure that the surveyor can meet your deadlines. Can they deliver the report within your timescales?
Finding a surveyor
Get a recommendation from your mortgage lender, family members of friends
Contact the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which represents around 80,000 qualified surveyors, all operating to a high standard
Read our how to buy a house guide for further information on the property buying process.