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  • Writer's pictureLucy ay Winova

Everything you need to know about House Surveys

What are the different types of House Survey and which one should I choose?

Buying a new house can overwhelming, exciting, scary and expensive all in one go. Before you make your purchase - whether it is for you to live in or an investment property - it is important to understand the exact condition of your property, inside and out. Carrying out full surveys on the house will ensure you aren’t met by any unwelcome surprises further down the road, which can often come with a costly bill. If the property is an investment property, the cost of the works might mean your deal is no longer lucrative and that is not a business risk that is worth taking.

If this is your first time buying a house, you might be wandering:

  • What is a survey?

  • Where can I find a recommended surveyor?

  • Is the survey connected the lender?

  • Will I be able to understand everything in their reports?

  • How much does a survey cost?

  • There are three different types, what does each one mean?

  • Are the comments in the survey suggestions or imperative?

Below, we answer these questions and more to help you better understand surveys and how they work.

What is a House Survey?

A House Survey is a detailed and expert inspection of a property’s condition. It is a thorough process of checking whether the property is structurally sound or not. The surveyor identifies and reveals any problems, major repairs and refurbishment works that they suggest should be considered when purchasing your property. The survey is completed by a professional surveyor who visits the property to carry out the inspection.

Buyers usually proceed with obtaining the survey on a property once their offer has been accepted by the seller.

What are the types of House Survey?

The three basic types of house survey are as follows:

Condition Report (Level 1)

  • The most basic survey, and the least expensive

  • Gives an overview of the basic condition of the property

  • Provides you with the summary of issues, urgent defects plus the possible risks that might be immediately affecting the home

However, this report doesn’t include any advices nor a valuation and is only suitable for new and modern homes that are in good condition

Homebuyer Report / Home Survey Report (Level 2)

  • Most common as it is more detailed and includes all the features of a Condition Report

  • Clearly summarises any obvious major problems that may impact the value of the property and the surveyor’s advice on repairs and maintenance

You can choose to have this survey on your property with or without a market valuation

Building Survey (Level 3)

  • Most expensive and most thorough survey you can have on a property

  • Provides a depth analysis of the property’s structure and condition

  • Provides a summary of defects and problems caused by hidden flaws and goes into great details on any potential work the property may need

A Building Survey is suitable for larger or older properties, larger renovation projects and properties in poor condition.

The other types of house survey are:

Mortgage Valuation

  • When you purchase a property with a mortgage, the lender/bank has their own surveyor and you’ll pay for the survey fee. It aims to satisfy the lender that your desired property is worth the price you’re paying

  • This valuation is straightforward and less detailed compared with the other surveys

New-Build Snagging Survey

  • A snagging survey is an independent inspection to identify and highlight any defects with a newbuild property

  • These issues can then be resolved by the developer before you move in

What should I look for in a Surveyor?

One of the main points to consider before you get the survey booked is to ensure that your surveyor has relevant qualifications.

Your chosen surveyor should be registered and accredited by trade association such as:

  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

  • Residential Property Surveyors Associations (RPSA)

  • Sava-registered surveyor

What are the costs involved?

The cost of your survey will vary significantly depending on the location, size and type of property. Here are some guides to help you:

Data source:, October 2018

DIY House Survey

Many older properties can be full of flaws and are not that hard to spot with your eyes on inspection. Many buyers often opt to not have surveys done. They do not find them to produce any such information that they cannot surmise themselves and find the fees to expensive.

This is common amongst property investors who have been operating in specific postcodes and roads for a long time, they are confident that they know every single issue with a house just by viewing it themselves or with their tradesmen, and therefore will not get a survey done.

Here are some Pros & Cons to taking this approach:


  • Cost effective – no need to pay for a surveyor

  • Time efficient – no need to wait for a number of days to get the result and report

  • Local knowledge on house surveying can be used here


  • Too risky – could overlook any damps and subsidence, wood worm, dry rot, and other hidden areas with critical damages

  • Won’t be able to conduct extensive property health check as professionals do

  • Wrong estimation on the approximate value of the property

Some people may opt to not get a survey carried out. This might suit some buyers, it is however risky and could cost you in the long run. IT could also work in your favour to have a survey carried out. If there are extra refurbishment works or issues brought to your attention that you were unaware of before, you could use the survey as a tool to negotiate on the asking price, as you will now how to spend on those items to get the property to a good standard. In summary, surveys are an important part of the property buying process and should not be overlooked or ignored in order to simply save costs upfront… this could come back to haunt you later on down the line.

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