As a homebuyer you can choose which type of survey to go for and how much to spend. Here we explain the options...
Deciding what survey to choose will depend on a number of factors - the state of the property, the cost of the property, and how thorough you want to be in uncovering every flaw before you buy.
Your requirements will determine the level of detail your surveyor will go into when assessing the property's condition - and how much you will pay for the service - because not all surveys are the same.
Valuations versus surveys
A valuation should not be used as a survey. If you're trying to buy a property with a mortgage, your mortgage company will conduct a basic valuation to assess whether the property is worth the money you are paying.
You will get a copy of the mortgage valuation, but it will not highlight problems you may ordinarily find in a survey. It is important, therefore, that you employ a surveyor yourself to undertake a thorough inspection of the property you wish to buy.
The types of surveys available
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) offers three types of survey:
1. Home Condition Report. The cheapest and most basic. It’s suitable for newer homes and those in a generally good state of repair. The Home Condition Report uses a rating system. 'Green’ means things can be readily cared for under normal maintenance, ‘orange’ means investigations may be advised – while ‘red’ means serious or urgent repairs are needed.
2. HomeBuyer Report. The middle-of-the-road option and costs more. This survey is suitable for most modern homes as well as older properties that are in a reasonable condition.
According to RICS, the main objectives of the Homebuyer's Report are to:
- Make a reasoned and informed judgment on whether or not to proceed with the purchase
- Assess whether or not the property is a reasonable purchase at the agreed price
- Make clear what decisions and actions should be taken before contracts are exchanged
Your property surveyor will make a number of assessments, including:
- The general condition of the property
- Any major faults in accessible parts of the building that may affect the value
- Any urgent problems that need inspecting by a specialist before you sign a contract
- Results of tests for damp in the walls
- Damage to timbers - including woodworm or rot
- The condition of any damp-proofing, insulation and drainage (though drains aren't tested)
- The estimated cost of rebuilding the property after a fire, for building insurance purposes
- The value of the property on the open market
3. Building Survey. The most expensive and comprehensive survey. It will provide more details about the defects, and offer advice on the next steps you should take.
It is recommended for:
- Listed buildings
- Properties more than 30 years old
- Buildings constructed in an unusual way, however old they are
- Properties you plan to renovate or alter in any way
- Properties that have had extensive alterations
Your surveyor will produce a final report which will reveal the detail of the construction of the property, the materials used and a list of all minor and major structural problems that may exist.
Such tests will identify:
- Major and minor defects and what they could mean
- The possible cost of repairs
- Results of damp testing on walls
- Damage to timbers - including woodworm and rot
- The condition of damp-proofing, insulation and drainage (though drains aren't tested)
- Technical information on the construction of the property and the materials used
- The location
- Recommendations for any further special inspection
How much will a survey cost?
Prices vary according to the value of the property, but..
- Home Condition Report should start at around £250.
- HomeBuyer Report costs start between £350 and £400 with another £100 or so for the valuation
- Full Building Survey is upwards of £750, but will depend on the specific age and features of the property, so shop around for quotes.
If you've noticed a specific problem within the property and want to have it assessed, you can also commission a Defect Report.
The structural surveyor will concentrate solely on the problem identified and will provide you with the information to assess any necessary risks associated with it.
You might also be interested in...
- Guide to choosing a surveyor
- How to buy a house
- How to sell a house
- Guide to buying your first home
- Make the most of your home
Some information contained herein may have changed since it was first published. PrimeLocation strongly advises you to seek current legal and/or financial advice from a qualified professional.