Buying a home is likely to be one of the biggest financial decisions you'll ever make, so it's important to be aware of a potential property's true value, which will be impacted by any serious defects to the structure.

While getting a survey of your potential new home is not required by law, it can highlight any issues early on - so you know if a home really is worth the asking price. For example, if a survey reveals a defect in the roof that will cost £4,000 to remedy, you might reduce your offer by that amount, backed up by findings from the independent survey.

Most home surveys in the United Kingdom are carried out by qualified surveyors who are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Isn't a mortgage valuation report the same as a survey?

Your mortgage lender will insist on a mortgage valuation report (usually at your expense) on any potential property you ask them to lend money on. This is a cursory overview of a property's value. It reassures the lender that the property is worth the asking price. It is not a survey and will not highlight any structural defects. However, some would-be buyers wrongly believe a valuation report is the same as a survey.

Isn't a survey a waste of money?

A survey offers the reassurance that a property really is worth the asking price. It can also be used to help negotiate a lower price if defects are found. Investing in a survey could potentially save you large sums of money later on.

So which survey should I get?

You can choose from three levels of survey accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Survey level one: RICS Home Condition Report (HCR)

This is the least in-depth of the survey types. It uses a simple 'traffic light' rating system to describe a property's condition, and point out any risks and possible legal problems, alongside any defects that require immediate attention. Designed for newer properties and conventional homes, it is usually the lowest-priced survey.

Survey level two: RICS HomeBuyer Report (HBR)

Best suited to properties that are in a reasonable condition, this survey goes into more depth than a HCR. There are two types of HBR:

HomeBuyer Report (survey)

This is the same as the RICS Condition report, but with advice on defects, necessary repairs and ongoing maintenance issues.


HomeBuyer Report (survey & valuation)

This report gives you the same information as a HomeBuyer Report (survey), but with a market valuation together with insurance rebuild costs.


Survey level three: RICS Building Survey

This is the most in-depth of the RICS surveys. It is recommended if you want to buy a larger or older property, or if you are considering a major renovation or extension.

Find a RICS surveyor near you

You can use this website to find a RICS surveyor near you: https://www.ricsfirms.com/

 

References:

Home surveys: http://www.rics.org/uk/knowledge/consumer-guides/home-surveys/