As we discussed in our last post, commissioning a property survey is a vital step in the purchase of a new house. Without one, you’re risking your savings on a building that you know very little about, and could discover unpleasant, expensive surprises as soon as you take ownership. If you’re about to buy a house, then we’re glad you’ve made it here – you know that the question isn’t whether to get a survey at all; it’s “which survey is right for me?”

You may already know that the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) offer four main types of survey; a valuation survey, a condition report, a HomeBuyers Report and a full building survey. Each survey offers a different depth of investigation, and the best survey will depend on the property you’re buying.

Property Valuation

As the name might suggest, a property valuation is geared towards informing you about the current market value of a property, and will not go into any detail about its construction or condition. These are ideal if you are buying an unusual building, or are uncertain about the asking price, but aren’t concerned about the structural condition at this stage.

Valuations are most commonly carried out on behalf of mortgage lenders, to determine whether the property’s value is sufficient to cover their loan should it become repossessed. However, we routinely undertake private valuation surveys for various purposes, including insurance, probate and matrimonial documentation.

Condition Report

RICS refers to Condition Reports as a “level 1” survey. They are designed for new homes (typically no older than 3 years) that have been constructed with conventional materials and techniques. Condition Reports are basic, and are best for a building that is assumed to be in perfect condition. Any urgent defects or obviously unexpected features will be noted, and the report will contain important details for solicitors.

A Condition Report is an inexpensive option for getting a professional surveyor to inspect the property prior to purchase, however be aware that while it is ideal for buyers wanting peace of mind that the building is sound, as it’s possible for issues to be missed due to the simplicity of the inspection.

HomeBuyer Report

The RICS HomeBuyer Report is a level 2 survey, and is sufficient for most properties built in the last 50 – 100 years or so, providing they have been built in a conventional fashion, with routine materials. This kind of report will take note of any surface-level defects in and around the property and use a traffic light system to indicate the urgency or severity of each problem. Much more detailed than a Condition Report, you can expect to understand structural concerns like damp and subsidence, as well as areas that need repair or updating to meet building regulations.

A HomeBuyer report is a good choice when you have some concerns about the condition of the building and would like to prepare yourself for the potential costs of remedial work or renovations.

Building Survey

A Building Survey is the most comprehensive survey you can arrange for a property, and will provide a thorough analysis of the building’s structure and condition. Not only will the surveyor examine all accessible areas, but the report will include professional advice for dealing with any defects that are uncovered.

The RICS Building Survey is the most expensive kind of survey, but if you are buying an older property, or are planning significant renovations once you take ownership, a thorough investigation of the property is essential for determining issues that may cost thousands later down the line.

At Daily Move, it’s important to us that you are fully informed before commissioning a survey, and we will always guide you towards the format we believe is the most valuable for the kind of building you’re buying.

Remember, a survey can’t tell you whether or not you should buy a property. If your report comes back with a plethora of faults and urgent repairs, it’s up to you if you continue with the sale (although it might be wise to re-negotiate the price). Equally, even a few minor faults may be enough to make you choose to walk away from the sale – the important thing is that a survey will give you the power to make an informed decision.