A house survey is an assessment of a property’s condition carried out by a qualified surveyor. It aims to identify any potential problems with the property, such as structural defects or issues with the plumbing or electrical systems. 

The surveyor will produce a report that provides a detailed overview of the property’s condition, highlighting any issues that need to be addressed.  

The report will typically include recommendations for any necessary repairs or maintenance work. 

A house survey can give buyers peace of mind and help them to make an informed decision about whether to proceed with the purchase of the property. 

This guide provides an extensive overview on the types of surveys offered. 

What Are The Different Types Of Homebuyers Surveys?

The type of house survey needed will be influenced by the age and construction of the property in question. Different types of surveys are available, but the most commonly chosen is a level 2 survey. 

This type of survey provides a more in-depth assessment of the property’s condition than a basic mortgage valuation survey, but is not as comprehensive as a level 3 building survey

RICS Condition Report (Level 1)

A RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Condition Report is a type of house survey that provides an overview of the condition of a property. It is also known as a Level 1 survey. This report is suitable for newer homes or properties that are in good condition.

A RICS Condition Report is a visual inspection of the accessible parts of the property, and it highlights any significant issues that the surveyor has found. 

The report includes information on any defects or potential risks to the property, such as damp, rot, subsidence or damage to timbers. 

It does not, however, provide details on the parts of the property that are hidden or inaccessible, such as the wiring or drainage system.

The RICS Condition Report is the most basic survey option and is not as detailed as a Homebuyer Report or a Building Survey. 

It is recommended for properties that are less than 10 years old or have recently undergone major refurbishment, where significant defects are unlikely to be present. 

The report can help buyers to understand the general condition of the property and identify any major issues that need to be addressed before making a purchase.

RICS Home Survey – Level 2/RPSA Home Condition Survey

A RICS Home Survey, also known as a Level 2 survey, is a more comprehensive assessment of a property’s condition than a Level 1 survey.

 It is suitable for properties that are in a reasonable condition and have no obvious problems or defects.

During a RICS Home Survey, a qualified surveyor will carry out a visual inspection of the property and report on any defects or issues that are present. 

This may include damp, subsidence, or problems with the roof, walls, floors, or services. The report will also include a valuation of the property, highlighting any areas that may affect its value.

An RPSA (Residential Property Surveyors Association) Home Condition Survey is a similar type of survey that is also suitable for properties that are in a reasonable condition. 

It is a Level 2 survey and provides a detailed report on the condition of the property, including information on any defects or issues that require attention. 

The report will also include a valuation of the property and an assessment of its energy efficiency.

Both the RICS Home Survey and the RPSA Home Condition Survey are more detailed than a Level 1 survey, and are suitable for a wider range of properties. 

They provide buyers with a more detailed understanding of the condition of the property and help to identify any potential issues before purchase.

A RICS Home Survey Level 3

A RICS Home Survey Level 3, also known as a Building Survey, is the most  comprehensive assessment of a property’s condition. It is suitable for all types of properties, particularly those that are older, larger, or in a poor condition.

During a Building Survey, a qualified surveyor will carry out a detailed inspection of the property, including all visible and accessible areas, such as the roof, walls, floors, and services. 

The survey will identify any defects, potential risks, or areas where further investigation is required. The surveyor will also provide advice on the necessary repairs, maintenance, or potential risks that need to be addressed.

A full structural survey will usually include the following;

  • The property’s foundations, walls, and roof structure
  • The condition of the property’s drainage and plumbing systems
  • The condition of the property’s electrical systems
  • The presence of any damp, rot, or infestation
  • The condition of any outbuildings or other structures on the property
  • Any other visible defects or issues that may affect the property’s value or safety.

House survey costs

Condition report costs £300- £500

The cost of a condition report in the UK can vary depending on various factors such as the type of property, the location, the complexity of the report, and the surveyor or company you choose to perform the report.

As a rough guide, a basic condition report for a residential property can cost around £300 to £500. 

Level 2 Homebuyers Surveyor 

As a rough guide, a Level 2 Homebuyer Survey for a typical residential property can cost between £400 to £900. However, the cost could be higher if the property is larger, older, or located in a high-cost area.

The building survey report cost – £800- £1,500 

A full structural survey for a typical residential property can cost between £800 to £1,500 or more. However, the cost could be higher for larger or more complex properties or those in high-cost areas such as London

Do I really need a house survey?

While it’s not a legal requirement to have a survey when buying a house in the UK, it is highly recommended. A survey can provide valuable information about the condition of the property and any potential issues or defects that may need to be addressed.

Without a survey, you may not be aware of any hidden problems that could be expensive to fix or affect the safety of the property. This could lead to unexpected repair costs or even make the property unsuitable for your needs.

Here’s a few other reasons why getting a direct a survey can be a good idea. 


You will be able to renegotiate the type of property

Getting a survey can provide valuable information about the condition of the property and any potential issues or defects that may need to be addressed. This information can be used to negotiate the property price, particularly if the survey identifies significant issues that were not disclosed or evident during the initial viewing.

If the survey highlights issues that will require repairs or maintenance, you can use this information to negotiate a lower purchase price or request that the necessary repairs be completed before completing the purchase. You could also ask the seller to provide a discount to cover the cost of the repairs.


You can resume your house search elsewhere

If you obtain a house survey and it reveals significant problems with the property, it may be in your best interest to reconsider the purchase. 

It can be disappointing to discover issues with a property you had hoped to buy, but it’s important to remember that a survey can save you from making a costly mistake.

If you decide not to proceed with the purchase, you can put the plans with the property to bed and focus on finding another property that better meets your needs. This will allow you to move on from the disappointment and invest your time and resources into finding a property that you can be happy with.


You’re making an expensive purchase

In addition to identifying any issues with the property, a surveyor can also confirm whether you are paying a fair market value for the property. This can be particularly valuable if you are purchasing a property in a competitive market, as it can be difficult to know if you are paying too much for the property without expert guidance.

What to do if your survey uncovers problems

If a home survey reveals problems, there are several options available to the buyer, depending on the severity of the issues identified and their impact on the overall value of the property.


Negotiate the purchase price 

One option is to negotiate the purchase price with the seller based on the issues identified in the survey. For example, if the survey reveals that there is significant damp or structural damage, the buyer could request a reduction in the purchase price to reflect the cost of remedial works that will be required. The seller may agree to this in order to avoid losing the sale altogether.


Insist on repairs taking place prior to completion

Another option is to request that the seller makes the necessary repairs before the sale is completed. This can be particularly useful if the issues identified are relatively minor and can be easily fixed, such as a leaky roof or faulty wiring. The buyer could request that the seller provides evidence that the repairs have been completed to a satisfactory standard before completing the purchase.


Withdraw from the sale 

Alternatively, if the issues identified in the survey are too severe, the buyer may choose to withdraw from the sale altogether. This may be the case if the issues identified would be too costly to fix or if they would render the property unsuitable for the buyer’s needs.

What is a mortgage valuation survey?

A mortgage valuation survey is typically conducted by a surveyor who has been appointed by the mortgage provider. While this type of survey is carried out by a qualified surveyor, it is not as extensive as a full building survey or homebuyer’s report. 

The purpose of the survey is primarily to provide the mortgage lender with an estimate of the property’s market value, which helps to inform their lending decision.

It’s important to note that the mortgage valuation survey is conducted for the benefit of the mortgage provider and not the borrower. This means that the borrower may not receive a copy of the survey report, as it is the property of the mortgage lender.

The surveyor may use different methods to carry out the valuation, such as a desktop valuation, a drive-by valuation, or a physical valuation where they visit the property in person. The chosen method will depend on the lender’s requirements and the type of property being valued.

How to find a surveyor 

There are several ways to find a house surveyor in the UK:

  • Word of mouth: One of the most reliable ways to find a good house surveyor is to ask friends, family members or colleagues for recommendations. If they have recently purchased a property or had a survey done, they may be able to provide you with the contact details of a reliable surveyor who they would recommend.
  • Estate agent or mortgage broker recommendations. Your estate agent or mortgage broker may also be able to provide you with recommendations for a surveyor. They often have established relationships with surveyors in the area and can provide you with the contact details of reputable professionals.
  • Online research: You can also find a house surveyor in the UK by conducting research online. There are many websites and directories that list surveyors in your local area. Be sure to check the surveyor’s qualifications, experience and reviews before making a decision.
  • Reviews: Checking online reviews is also a good way to find a reputable house surveyor. Many surveyors will have reviews on their website, on Google or on other third-party review sites. Reading reviews can give you an idea of the surveyor’s quality of service and whether they are a good fit for your needs.
  • Recommendations from professional bodies: There are several professional bodies for surveyors in the UK, such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). These bodies may be able to provide you with a list of registered surveyors in your local area.

It’s worth considering a combination of these methods to find a house surveyor that meets your needs and budget. 

How long does a house survey take?

The duration of a house survey can vary depending on factors such as the type of survey, the size and complexity of the property, and the surveyor’s workload. 

Typically, a basic mortgage valuation survey, which is conducted by a surveyor appointed by the mortgage provider, can take an hour or two to complete.

More comprehensive surveys, such as a HomeBuyer Report or a full building survey, can take several hours or even a full day to complete. 

After the survey is complete, the surveyor will compile a report detailing their findings. 

This report may take a week or two to be sent to the buyer, depending on the surveyor’s workload and the complexity of the property. 

Speak to an Expert

Whether you’ve just had an offer accepted on a property and you’re ready to go, or you’re simply wondering how much you need to save for a deposit, it’s never too soon to reach out.

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When is the best time to have a survey carried out?

The ideal time to have a house survey is after the property has been agreed upon and the mortgage valuation and mortgage have been approved. This way, you can avoid wasting money on a survey if your mortgage application is declined.

Having a survey early enough in the buying process allows you to make an informed decision about the property and identify any issues that need addressing. 

However, it’s important to give the process enough time to ensure that the mortgage approval and sale are progressing smoothly.

Before booking a survey, it’s worth speaking to several surveyors to check their pricing and availability. This can help you to find a qualified and experienced surveyor who can conduct a thorough inspection of the property and provide you with a comprehensive report on its condition.

Traffic light survey 

The report is structured using a traffic light rating system, with each issue identified in the survey given a rating of green, amber, or red, depending on its severity. 

A green rating indicates that no immediate action is required.

An Amber rating indicates that further investigation may be needed. 

A red rating indicates that urgent repairs or maintenance are required to ensure the safety and integrity of the property.

The traffic light system survey is designed to be a cost-effective option for buyers who are looking for a basic assessment of the property’s condition. 

New-build snagging surveys

A new build  snagging survey is a type of survey that is carried out on a newly constructed property before it is handed over to the buyer. 

The purpose of the survey is to identify any defects or issues that need to be addressed by the developer before the property is considered complete and ready for occupation.

This can include things like incomplete or poor quality finishes, faulty electrical or plumbing systems, and structural defects.

Once the survey has been completed, the surveyor will provide a detailed report outlining the defects and issues that were identified, along with recommendations for how they should be addressed. 

This report can then be used by the buyer to request that the developer make the necessary repairs or corrections before the property is handed over.

How can Strive Mortgages help? 

 Having an experienced mortgage broker can help you to understand the results of the survey and how they may affect your mortgage application. 

For example, if the survey reveals significant issues with the property, the broker can help you to negotiate a lower purchase price or advise you on whether it may be best to withdraw your offer altogether.

Having a mortgage broker can be a valuable resource when it comes to navigating the house survey process. They can help to ensure that you are making an informed decision when it comes to purchasing a property, and can provide guidance and support throughout the process.

For more info on house surveys, please contact a member of the Strive team, by emailing [email protected] or call us on 01273 002697.