Property Surveys – How to Choose the Right Survey for You

Our Residential Property Solicitor Rachel Cooke explains the types of property surveys available to you along with an idea of costs and the types of properties and purchases that they may be suitable for.

Rachel Cooke

Which Survey is best for me?

You need to choose which survey is best for you, based on the condition and age of the property. Spending money on property surveys now could save you time and money in the future so it is important that you get this right.  That is why we want to provide you with a little extra guidance as this can be a minefield!

  • RICS Condition Report

The RICS Condition Report describes the condition of the property, identifies any risks and potential legal issues and highlights any urgent defects. It’s most suitable for new-build and conventional homes in good condition; no advice or valuation is provided in this survey.

A Condition Report is a very basic ‘traffic light’ survey and the cheapest usually.

  • RICS HomeBuyer Report

A HomeBuyer Report is a survey suitable for conventional properties in reasonable condition. Costs start at £400 on average.  This is the most common report.  This will help you find out if there are any structural problems, such as subsidence or damp, as well as any other unwelcome hidden issues inside and outside. The HomeBuyer Report doesn’t look beyond the floorboards or behind the walls.

Some home-buyers’ reports include a property valuation, so you might be able to revise your offer if the survey reveals a lower price than the mortgage lender’s valuation.

If there’s no valuation included, you could use the report’s suggestions for repairs to renegotiate the price.

  • RICS Building Survey

The RICS Building Survey provides the same level of in-depth inspection as a building survey, but uses a simple a clear presentation style. This is mainly aimed at larger or older properties, or if you’re planning major works.

A detailed report provides you with an in-depth analysis of the property’s condition highlighting a range of issues which includes advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options. Included with the RICS Building Survey are advice sheets on how to deal with some of the more common problems that have been found at the property including an outline of repair options and the consequences of not dealing with any potential issues highlighted within the report.

The typical cost is around £400-£500.

  • Building or full structural survey

This is the most comprehensive survey and is suitable for all residential properties. It’s particularly good for older homes or homes that might need repairs. This type of survey typically costs upwards of £600 and provides detailed advice on repairs.

It’s very extensive and in some circumstances worth the extra money but it does not usually include a valuation. Although this survey can’t look under floorboards or behind walls it should include the surveyor’s opinion on the potential for hidden defects in this area.  The surveyor should also provide information on potential repair options. The sole aim of the mortgage valuation is to satisfy the lender that your desired property is worth the price you’re paying – or at least the amount it’s lending, before they approve your mortgage.

  • Mortgage valuation 

A valuation is just that – it won’t point out repairs or structural problems that you will have to pay to fix.

Generally, you will pay for the lender’s survey. The cost is based on the value and size of the property and is typically £150 to £1,500.

Sometimes lenders offer mortgages with free valuation surveys however, you often then do not even receive a copy of this!