When you’re in the process of buying a property, you’ll no doubt be advised to have a survey carried out on your new home. But what is a house survey and which one should you choose for the best protection?
Knowing the type of survey you need and how to choose a surveyor can really benefit you in the long-term. This guide will explain the differences between house surveys and how you can get the most out of your property survey.
A home survey is an inspection of the condition of the property which is carried out by a qualified surveyor. The goal of a survey is to identify any potential issues that could affect the structure or condition of the property so they can be highlighted to the prospective buyer. Once the inspection has been carried out, the surveyor will prepare a report which details the findings. Surveys are typically carried out once an offer on a property has been accepted.
There are three main accredited bodies for surveyors, so it’s important to check that the surveyor you choose is a member of one of these. The first, and most commonly used, is the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), who provide three levels of survey; Sava; and the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA).
A survey isn’t a legal obligation. But you run certain risks if you avoid having a property survey carried out on your potential new home. Given that a property is likely to be the biggest financial investment you’ll ever make, it makes sense to invest a little more in getting the decision right. Avoiding a survey could mean that expensive surprises crop up once you move in that could have been spotted in advance.
A survey gives you reassurance that the condition of the property has been checked by a qualified professional, ensuring that the money you’re spending is being invested wisely. If any issues are spotted during the survey, it also gives you scope to either renegotiate the price you pay for the property or request that these issues are dealt with before completion.
Surveys are particularly important:
- for older properties or those with an unusual structure
- if the building is listed
- has a thatched roof or timber frame, or
- if you’re simply unsure about the condition the property is in.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to factor in a survey when budgeting for your property purchase.
Depending on your budget and the depth of inspection you want carried out, there are several surveys to choose from:
A Condition Report is the most basic and cheapest survey you can get, and it typically starts at around £300. Because it’s a basic survey, it doesn’t go into too much detail and is mostly designed to complement the mortgage valuation that your lender will carry out. It utilises a traffic light system to highlight issues, with green signifying that everything is ok, amber highlighting cause for concern, and red indicating that repairs are essential. However, this Report doesn’t include advice or a valuation.
A Homebuyers Report, or Homebuyers Survey, is a level 2 report which is a popular option with property buyers. This survey comes in two forms – with or without a valuation – and it will detail issues such as subsidence and rot. This survey typically starts at around £350 and is a non-intrusive survey, so your surveyor won’t look beneath floor boards or drill holes, so it’s limited from that perspective.
Averaging between £400 and £900, a Home Condition Survey is provided by RPSA rather than RICS and includes information such as damp assessments, boundary issues and broadband speed. The reports are independently checked for consistency and the cost of the survey will depend on the value of the property.
Lastly, a Building Survey is a level 3 survey offered by RICS’ surveyors and it ranges from £500 to £2000 depending on the size of the property. It’s an in-depth survey that provides an extensive, detailed report at the end. Your surveyor will inspect every aspect of the property, from behind walls and between floors to checking the attic space and above ceilings. They’ll advise on any necessary repairs and estimated costs or timings.
A home survey is a great investment before you sign on the dotted line and complete your purchase. You want to be sure that the money you’re spending is being invested properly and that you’re not going to be faced with expensive repairs months into living in the property (which a survey can help mitigate). In addition to being aware of the necessary repairs or structural issues, a survey also gives you the peace of mind that what you’re paying is a fair price and that any issues can be dealt with before it’s too late.