Do I need a survey when buying a house

Buying a house is a huge decision. It’s important not to leave anything to chance. The last thing you want are any nasty surprises and your dream home to rapidly turn into a complete nightmare! A costly nightmare, at that...

Whilst it’s not a legal requirement to have a survey completed, the peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly what you’re buying is priceless. In this article we want to share with you information about:

The surveying process and what to expect from your surveyor.

The different types of house surveys you can buy and their uses.

Information regarding the costs of different property surveys.

What do house surveyors do?

In a nutshell a house surveyor will visually inspect the interior and exterior of a property and provide detailed analysis of its condition, any defects and advise on any corrective actions required.

The three main types of survey are homebuyers reports, building surveys / structural surveys and property valuations. We’ll talk about all of these, in more detail, later on.

Whichever survey you need, we’d always urge you to use a Chartered Surveyor / RICS (Royal Institute Of Chartered Surveyors) member. You can trust the professional opinions of Chartered Surveyors and their surveys and valuations will be in a standardised and easy to understand format set out by RICS.

House surveys - what do they look for?

RICS Surveyors are specialists at providing concise information about a property. Visual inspections are completed and these are done in a clean and non-intrusive way.

That means when you hire RICS qualified surveyors they don’t destroy anything, move furniture around or lift any floors. It’s a tidy inspection process designed with minimal interference in mind.

RICS surveyors logo

That said, if there are any limitations in the surveying process, due to poor access for example, these will be noted within the report.

Types of house survey

There are several different types of survey, depending on the information you need. Let’s explain a bit more about the three most common types of property survey...

Homebuyer Report

You may have heard of a RICS homebuyer report. They’ve been increasing in popularity over the past few years. Homebuyer reports are designed to provide a concise overview of any survey information that could affect the valuation of a property.

Using a standard format set by the RICS and an easy-to-follow red, amber, green, traffic light system, a homebuyer report is ideal for relatively modern properties that appear in good condition.

In addition to information surrounding the condition of the building, environmental factors to consider and any health and safety concerns, the homebuyer survey also features an open market valuation and the approximate costs of reinstatement for building insurance purposes.

The homebuyer report comes complete with recommendations for further investigations, advice for potential future work and anything else the surveyor thinks your solicitor may find useful during the transfer of ownership.

Building Survey

If you’re interested in an older or more uniquely designed property, perhaps a listed building, or are looking to purchase somewhere in need of significant renovation work, you can put your mind at ease by instructing a building or structural surveyor. Building surveys are also great for modern properties if you’re planning to carry out extension or alteration work.

The main difference in comparison to a homebuyer report is the level of detail the surveyor will go into. A building survey will detail information about construction methods and materials used, along with significant structural or maintenance considerations.

You’ll also gain a great insight into the general condition of the property, advice about repairs and details of potential consequences if those repairs aren’t carried out.

Another really useful part of a building survey is the advice the surveyor can offer about any proposed changes to the building’s structure. This will help you plan better for future building works and additional expenditure.

It’s worth noting that, unlike a homebuyer report, a building survey doesn’t include an open market valuation. That said, a property valuation can always be instructed and supplied as a separate report.

Property Valuation

For anyone going through a divorce, a matrimonial valuation would be the best way of independently valuing built assets. Again, the courts can use this information to ensure the fair split of any property.

Difference Between Valuation and Survey

As you’ve read through this article you’ll have noticed a lot of crossover between property surveys and residential valuations.

Put simply, a survey will give you insight into the makeup of a property and how viable a potential purchase will be, whereas a valuation will put an accurate number against the current worth of a building.

A building survey, combined with a property valuation, will give you the most comprehensive information to make a decision on a potential purchase or investment.

For modern premises or buildings that won’t require much work doing, a homebuyer report is a cost effective combination of survey information and an open market valuation.

Of course, there are plenty of reasons you might want a valuation performed on its own, without a survey needing to be conducted.

How much does a house survey cost?