What are the different types of house survey?


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There are a number of different types of house survey, and if you’re thinking about buying a house in the UK, you’ll need to know which one is right for you.

To help you out, we’ve put together a useful guide so that you make the right choice.

What is a home buyers survey?

A home buyers survey is essentially a health check of a property, undertaken by a qualified surveyor and designed to identify any potential problems with a house before you buy. There are many different house survey types to choose from, and as a buyer, it’s essential to know how they differ so that you can choose the right one for you.

The most important consideration when choosing a house survey is the age of the property. Older homes will need a more comprehensive survey, whereas brand new houses only require a once-over. The more in-depth the survey, the more it will cost.

Once you buy a house, any problems are your responsibility. A survey, therefore, ensures you have the full picture and are aware of any potential issues up front.

If a survey identifies major concerns, you can use this as a bargaining chip to lower the house price or decide to walk away from the sale if need be.

House buying surveys explained

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is the industry authority on house surveys, so it’s worth choosing a RICS-qualified surveyor. Here’s a quick overview of the different survey types on offer:

RICS Condition Report

A basic RICS condition report is recommended for properties. It is a cost-effective way to get a health check on the home you’re planning on buying, using a traffic light system to highlight any areas of concern. It reports on the condition only and does not give additional advice. It does not include a valuation and building reinstatement figure.

RICS Homebuyers Report

The RICS homebuyers report is a comprehensive check of homes in a reasonable condition and the most popular of all available surveys. It’s designed to spot any areas of a building that needs repairs, along with advice on ongoing maintenance. It includes a valuation and building reinstatement figure.

RICS Building Survey

If the house you’re buying is especially old, or you’re planning on doing some work to the property, it’s likely you’ll need a full structural survey. As the most comprehensive of all survey types, it will highlight all areas of concern, but is also the most expensive of all home buyer surveys.  This is often confused with a structural report. It is suitable for older, more unusual properties and those that have been altered and extended.

Structural report

A structural engineer will typically inspect a property when a defect such as movement has been identified. The engineer might also be a building surveyor but in the report should provide a diagnosis and estimated cost of repair, which can be used by your mortgage provider if necessary.

You can find a RICS-qualified surveyor in your area, here.

This guide to house surveys was produced in collaboration with Countrywide, the UK’s largest and most successful estate agency and property services Group.