Homeowner surveys: types and costs

Family meeting real-estate agent to buy new home

You’ll want the property you’re moving into to be safe and habitable. Homebuyer surveys are designed to provide that peace of mind.

This guide outlines the different types of property survey, their costs and what information they will provide.

What is a homebuyer survey?

In a homebuyer survey, an independent qualified surveyor inspects the condition of a property and highlights any existing or potential problems.

They will look at structural problems, fittings and other areas, as well as provide a description of the property and a review of its condition.

 

What does a homebuyer survey do?

The information given by a survey prevents expensive surprises when moving into a property and gives you the opportunity to understand the cost of required or potentially upcoming repairs.

With these figures, you may be able to request a discount on the price of the property or request that the owner addresses the issues before you move in.

 

Should you get a homebuyer survey?

Surveys are not compulsory but they are recommended, especially if you have concerns about the state of the property.

Old, unusual or listed properties are also recommended to be surveyed, preferably by an expert in the relevant type of property, as the potential issues may require specialist guidance.

 

What will a homebuyer survey assess?

In short, the condition of the property will be assessed to ensure it is safe and habitable. This will increase the likelihood of larger problems being nipped in the bud.

Depending on the depth of the survey, the following things may be looked at:

  • structural issues such as unstable walls, roof or chimneys;
  • issues like subsistence, rot and damp;
  • fittings and plumbing;
  • boundary issues.

 

Are there different types of homebuyer surveys?

There are three levels of property survey provided by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), each providing more detailed information and recommendations. There are also two other types of surveys by different providers:

 

Level one: Condition Report: £300 and up

This survey provides "traffic light" ratings to indicate the condition of the property. It is the lowest priced homebuyer survey available, often used for newer build properties. No additional advice or valuation provided.

  • Property type: New builds and conventional properties
  • Provider: RICS

 

Level two: HomeBuyers Report, survey only: £350 and up

Advice given based on descriptions of obvious problems; it is non-intrusive, so does not look under carpets, within walls or behind furniture.

  • Property type: Properties in a reasonable condition.
  • Provider: RICS

 

Level two: HomeBuyers Report, survey and valuation: £450 and up

Detail, commentary and provider the same as above.

Also includes a valuation in the form of an insurance reinstatement value, i.e. how much you would receive in insurance if the property burned down.

 

Level three: Building Survey: £500 and up

Much more detailed commentary, including advice on and reasons for required repairs, as well as estimates of cost and timings based on intrusive inspection of floors, ceilings, walls and roofing.

  • Property type: Larger or older properties.
  • Provider: RICS

 

Home Condition Survey: £400 and up

A non-technical report of the inside and outside of the property, general description of condition, as well as any health and safety issues. High detail, looks at all issues mentioned previously.

  • Property type: Larger or older properties.
  • Provider: Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA)

 

New-build snagging report: £300 and up

Description of issues with the property, from small things to more structural. Aimed to give you the power to request rectification before/soon after moving in.

  • Property type: New builds
  • Provider: Various

 

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