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What surveys do I need to do when buying a property?

Posted on 18 March, 2019

When buying a property there are different surveys that can be carried out. A survey will provide a detailed inspection of a property’s condition and advise you if there are:

  • Structural problems.
  • Major repairs or alterations needed e.g. damp, rewiring.
  • Commentary on the property, e.g. from the year the property was built, method of building, types of walls to the type of glazing.

Do I need to get a survey?

A survey is not compulsory, however, a survey can help you avoid expensive surprises/costs after you move in; such as hidden damp, or unexpected rewiring and give you peace of mind regarding things you may have noticed e.g. cracks in walls or mould. This peace of mind can be particularly reassuring for first time buyers.

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Depending on the seriousness of any defects found and the cost of repair work, you may be able to re-negotiate the purchase price or decide not to purchase the property at all.

It may be worthwhile carrying out a a survey if:

  • The property in question is old or unusual
  • The building is listed
  • You have any specific concerns about any part of the property
  • You feel very unsure about the condition of the property

Mortgage Valuation

Firstly, we want to clarify that a lenders valuation is not a survey. Mortgage valuations can give you a rough idea of whether you are paying too much for a property.

The valuation is commissioned by your mortgage lender, and is for their benefit, however the cost is the responsibility of the buyer. The valuation is very limited in scope and is only likely to uncover obvious, visible defects as part of what is a brief inspection.

Survey Types

There are three main types of property surveys offered by the RICS:
   1) Survey Level One: RICS Home Condition Report (HCR)


A fast and comprehensive survey that provides an overview of the condition of the property and highlights anyway major defects/areas of concern.  The conditions report uses simple ‘traffic light’ ratings to clearly identify the condition of the key elements of the property. Typically, the lowest priced of the surveys, it is aimed at conventional properties and newer homes.
PC Budget Tip:  £100 – £300

   2) Survey Level Two: RICS HomeBuyer Report (HBR)


This is most suitable for conventional properties which are in reasonable condition. The report specifies major defects and includes a roof inspection where possible, but does not detail remedial works. Advice can be given on specific items if required, and if further specialist investigation is thought necessary this will be stated in the report. These reports are most suitable for houses built during the last 80 years and up to approximately 2,000 square feet / 185 square metres.

PC Case Study: A Homebuyers `report at one of our current properties found there was damp in the property. We managed to renegotiate £10,000 off the price of the property (remedial works cost £3000), a saving of £7000 that we would have never achieved if we did not carry out the HomeBuyers Report.
PC Budget Tip: £250 – £500

   3) Survey Level Three: RICS Building Survey

Essential for larger or older properties, or if you’re planning major works. The most comprehensive report provides you with an in-depth analysis of the property’s condition and includes advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options. It is also highly advisable for older properties (pre 1900) or large or unusual buildings.

PC Budget Tip: £500 +
PC Note: You can often ask your lender to carry out a survey for you along with the valuation survey or can you do it independently.
PC Note: Depending on the seriousness of any defects and the cost of repair work, the buyer may be able to re-negotiate the purchase price or decide not to purchase the property at all.

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