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I Am The Agent's Handy Guide to Surveys

Whether you are using an online estate agency to find your new home or a traditional estate agency it is always worth swotting up on why you need a survey. So we have gathered together a quick overview of surveys for your property.  

How likely are you to arrange a survey of the property you intend to buy?  

According to thisismoney.co.uk, in 2014 four out of five purchasers did not bother with a survey, and chose to rely only on the mortgage lender’s valuation (which they most likely had to pay for). But did you know that the mortgage valuation ‘survey’ is not in fact a structural survey of the property itself? It doesn’t involve investigating the state of repair of the property; it’s just designed to confirm the value of the property so the lender can make a decision on whether to lend the money under the mortgage. This ‘survey’ won’t pick up any structural problems in the property that you might encounter further down the line after you have purchased. 

So we would definitely suggest that our buyers pay that little extra at the outset to ensure they know the structural condition and have an idea, before committing to the purchase, of any expensive repairs they may have to pay for later on?  

It’s already an expensive time and the costs of a survey may seem like a bit of a luxury. It’s always wise to be well-informed, though, and a survey will give you information to enable you to make an informed decision on what you will pay for a property, as well as budgeting for repairs or negotiating a price reduction if the survey recommends structural work. It could spare you some nasty and expensive surprises. 

There are several types of survey that you could opt for, depending on the type, condition and age of the property: 

RICS Condition Report 

This is a basic ‘proper’ survey which gives an overview of the property’s condition and highlights significant issues, but doesn’t go into detail.  

It also gives 'traffic light' ratings for the condition of different parts of the property. 

This is the type of survey you might choose if you are buying a new property that has not had any previous structural issues and you are seeking reassurance. 

RICS Homebuyers Report 

This is the most popular type of survey, suitable when the property you are buying is in a reasonable condition.  

It is more detailed than the condition report and it will highlight problems, such as damp and subsidence, and include advice on repairs and ongoing maintenance. It will also flag up any issues that don’t meet current building regulations.  

Although it is more detailed, the surveyor will not open up walls, floors and so on. It generally includes a market valuation and details of costs to rebuild. 

SAVA Home Condition Survey 

This is similar to the HomeBuyer’s report, but doesn’t include the market valuation. It does, however, include photos to assist with highlighting the issues to be followed up. 

RICS Building Survey 

This is a very thorough survey which provides a comprehensive analysis of the structure and condition of the property, together with a list of defects and advice on repairs and maintenance. For this survey, the surveyor will look under floorboards, check lofts and so on. You’ll want this type of survey if you are buying an unusual or period property, or perhaps a ‘project’ property where you are going to be doing a lot of renovation work. 


The costs of a survey will of course vary from region to region and will also depend on the value of the property and supplier.  

Which.co.uk  recently published the following table giving an indication of costs (figures gathered from designsonproperty.co.uk and correct as of March 2015). 

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ website publishes a guide to home surveys which will help you even further. 

Good luck, property hunter, and as ever please shout if you need any further information or would like us to refer you to our I Am The Agent recognised suppliers.  

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