Home buying can be a considerable financial investment, and to protect it you need a detailed inspection of the property condition. Home surveys play a pivotal part in this process – offering a detailed evaluation of property conditions to give an indication of their costs as part of this guide, along with how and why these surveys play such an essential part in the home-buying process.
What is a Home Survey?
A Home survey provides an in-depth examination of a property’s condition, with each survey type offering differing degrees of detail and cost implications. Home buyers usually arrange the survey after their offer has been accepted by the seller. The buyer typically arranges and pays for the survey.
The Cost of Home Surveys in 2023
The cost of a home survey varies depending on three key factors:
- The type of survey you choose
- The property’s value
- The property’s location
For instance, a RICS Home Survey Level 1 for a £200,000 property could cost around £400. However, a RICS Home Survey Level 3 (also known as a full structural survey) for a £1 million property could cost upwards of £1,500.
Different Types of Surveys and Their Costs
There are various kinds of home surveys, each providing different levels of detail at various costs. Here is a quick run-down on what each type offers and their typical fees:
How much does a house survey cost – by type
|LEVEL OF REPORT||WHAT IT COVERS||WHAT TYPE OF PROPERTY IS IT SUITABLE FOR?||TYPICAL COST|
|RICS Home Survey Level 1||Visible defects and a condition rating, highlighting issues in need of urgent investigation||Standard properties, new homes||£300 – £900|
|RICS Home Survey Level 2||Condition of property with the relative importance of any problems, advice on issues and repairs needed||Standard properties in reasonable condition||£400 – £1000|
|RICS Home Survey Level 3||This full structural survey gives an in-depth view of property condition and can also include an estimate of costs for repairing defects||For older (50 years +), larger, unusual properties, as well as those in poor condition||£630 – £1500|
How much does a house survey cost – by property value
|LEVEL OF REPORT||£100K – £249K||£250K – £349K||£350K – £499K||£500K – £1M|
|RICS Home Survey Level 1||£300 – £500||£500 – £600||£600 – £700||£700 – £900|
|RICS Home Survey Level 2/ RPSA Home Condition survey||£400 – £600||£600 – £700||£700 – £800||£800 – £1000|
|RICS Home Survey Level 3||£630 – £800||£800 – £900||£900 – £1,100||£1000 – £1,500|
Why do homebuyers survey costs vary?
The cost variation in homebuyer surveys stems from the varying levels of detail each survey entails. Consequently, identifying the type of survey you require is vital when inquiring about the cost of a house survey.
Due to the RICS Home Survey Standard implementation in March 2021, the nomenclature of the surveys may differ from your expectations. Former terminologies like condition report, homebuyer survey, and building survey have been revamped and updated.
Below, you’ll find the present titles of RICS home surveys, what they encompass, and their respective costs:
Mortgage valuation survey cost
When you apply for a mortgage, your lender will conduct a valuation of the property. This is often referred to as a valuation survey – a term that can cause confusion. Mortgage valuation surveys are basic assessments required by mortgage lenders to verify the value of property; they don’t offer detailed insight into its condition. However, everyone has the opportunity to upgrade their survey to a RICS Homebuyers Survey level 1, 2 or 3.
A mortgage valuation report is simply a quick review of the property to estimate its value so the lender knows the property is worth lending against. It is intended for the lender’s eyes only and does not substitute a homebuyer survey.
The cost of a mortgage valuation varies, typically based on property value; the higher the purchase price, the larger the fee. Each lender has their own scale.
- Virgin Money has a scale for basic valuations, ranging from £112 for properties up to £60,000 to £377 for properties valued between £750,001 – £1,000,000.
- Halifax’s charges for a basic valuation start at £370 and increase depending on the type of valuation being carried out.
- TSB offers value-based pricing that starts from £800 for properties valued between £1 and £100,000 and goes up to £8,250 for properties valued between £2,800,001 and £3,000,000. They also provide homebuyer surveys; but it may be best to shop around to find the most economical offer.
Currently, many lenders are offering free valuations across their ranges. So when comparing deals, factor this in as part of the overall value. And make sure you view a free valuation as part of a package – it’s unlikely to be worth paying a significantly higher interest rate just for a free valuation.
RICS Home Survey Costs
At any point during a property purchase, understanding potential costs is of the utmost importance. RICS Home Surveys offered by Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors offer tiered approaches to property evaluation that have their own costs and depths of analysis – each level can help reveal hidden issues while informing investment decisions. In this section, we’ll look at what each level costs.
RICS Home Survey Level 1 Costs (Condition Report)
RICS Home Survey Level 1, formerly known as a RICS Condition Report, generally falls within the £300-£900 range, factoring in the property’s location and its value. This level offers the most basic, least expensive RICS survey.
It supplies an overview of the property’s condition, pointing out ‘significant visible defects in need of immediate attention’.
It delivers condition ratings for primary components of the building, garage, and certain external elements. Ratings are marked from 1-3. A rating of 1 means no repairs or further investigation are required, while a rating of 3 flags urgent or dangerous issues.
This level does not include advice or valuation.
RICS Home Survey Level 2 Costs (Home Buyers Survey)
RICS Home Survey Level 2, formerly a Homebuyer Report, offers more detail and is often chosen by buyers. The cost generally falls between £400 and £1000, depending on the property’s location and value.
- The Level 2 survey covers everything in a Level 1 survey and then delves deeper.
- It offers an evaluation of the relative importance of any defects/problems.
- It includes advice regarding repairs and any ongoing maintenance concerns.
- If the surveyor cannot confidently make a conclusion, they will recommend further investigation.
- A Home Survey Level 2 is typically chosen for properties in fair condition.
You can opt for a Home Survey Level 2 with or without valuation. If you select a Home Survey Level 2 with valuation, it will include a valuation and an insurance reinstatement value. This variant typically starts from £500.
RICS Home Survey Level 3 Costs (Full structural survey)
The RICS Home Survey Level 3, also referred to as a full structural survey or a rics building survey, is the most extensive survey provided by RICS. The cost for such a survey is relatively high, ranging between £630 and £1,500 or even more, contingent on the value of the property. However, it’s considered a sensible investment for the following reasons:
- It delivers a comprehensive assessment of the property’s condition.
- It identifies the potential risk of hidden or potential defects.
- It outlines the most probable cause(s) of the identified defects from the inspection.
- It provides an estimate of costs and the likely timeframe for any needed repairs and works, when applicable and agreed upon.
New build snagging survey costs
If you’re purchasing a new build home, you’ll want to conduct a snagging survey. These surveys can pinpoint issues from minor cosmetic problems to severe structural defects. Ideally, your new build snagging survey should be conducted before the exchange. However, if this is not permitted by your developer, arrange for the snagging survey to be done as soon as possible after you move in. The usual cost for new build snagging surveys starts from £300.
A snagging report will:
- Highlight any issues in the property that do not meet the warranty standards.
- Identify any violations of building regulations or any other legal technical guidelines.
- Note any works which are still pending.
- Identify areas where the industry’s traditional customs and practices have not been followed.
- Provide advice either before or after completion of the property on any outstanding issues that need remedial work.
Your new build snagging report will be sent to both you and the developer directly. And if you’ve found your developer to be unresponsive to your requests for action, an independent snagging survey will strengthen your complaints.
Getting the best value from your survey
Purchasing a house is already a significant expense, so you don’t want your survey to add unnecessary costs. Once you have determined the type of survey you require, it’s prudent to shop around for various quotes.
When looking for a surveyor, don’t just settle for the one recommended by your bank, estate agent, or mortgage lender, as this could end up costing you more.
- Obtain at least three quotes and compare them.
- A common complaint is that survey reports come with many caveats, making it hard to know how to respond to them. So don’t simply opt for the cheapest.
- When deciding on your surveyor, ask for copies of past reports. Speak with the surveyor and ask if you’ll be able to discuss the report with them.
- Check if your surveyor is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) – they will have the letters MRICS or FRICS after their name. The RICS ensures all its members uphold professional standards in their work.
What could potentially increase my survey cost?
Your survey could potentially cost more if it reveals specific issues that necessitate a specialist survey.
For instance, if the property exhibits severe damp issues, your surveyor might advise a specific damp survey. The cost of such surveys can fluctuate but typically range from £150-£300. Similarly, if dry rot is found, a survey specifically for this may be recommended, usually costing around £300. However, it’s best to consult with your qualified chartered surveyor regarding the issues they’ve identified to understand their severity better.
Who is responsible for fixing the issues found in a survey?
If a property survey uncovers issues, you could use this knowledge to renegotiate its price. For instance, if there’s a damp problem that requires £5,000 of repairs then this amount should be deducted from its sale price; alternatively, you could ask the seller to rectify it first before purchasing or even reconsider your options altogether.
Your conveyancing solicitor will also receive a copy of your survey. If you have any worries or need to discuss your options, consult with them first as they can provide advice based on their extensive experience with property transactions. They can formally suggest the next steps, whether it’s requesting repairs or a reduction in the sale price, to the seller’s solicitor.
Securing a Building Survey Quote
When you decide to get a home survey, it’s vital to compare quotes from various surveyors to ensure you secure the best price. Get an online building survey quote now for your home purchase.
How much does a full structural survey cost UK?
A full structural survey, also known as RICS Home Survey Level 3, typically costs between £630 and £1,500 in the UK. The cost varies depending on the property's value and size.
Is a Level 3 survey worth it?
Yes, a Level 3 survey is worth it for older properties or if you plan extensive renovations. It provides a detailed report on the property's condition, potential defects, and repair estimates, helping avoid unforeseen costs.
How much is a buyers survey UK?
The cost of a buyer's survey in the UK varies depending on the survey type. A basic condition report starts around £250, a homebuyer's report ranges from £400-£950, and a full structural survey can cost between £600-£1,500.
Is a homebuyers survey worth the money?
Yes, a homebuyers survey is worth the expense as it can reveal potential issues with the property that might necessitate costly repairs, allowing you to renegotiate the price or reconsider the purchase.
What percentage of home buyers get a survey?
The number of home buyers opting for at least a basic survey has risen from 63% two decades ago to 91% recently. However, comprehensive building survey takers have significantly dropped from 28% 20 years ago to just 6% in the past year, showing a trend towards more basic surveys over full building inspections.
What are the red flags on a house survey?
Red flags on a house survey include significant structural issues, damp, timber decay, electrical problems, roof damage, and issues with drainage or plumbing.
How much does a house survey cost UK?
In the UK, house survey costs depend on the survey type. A basic condition report starts at around £250, a homebuyer's report ranges from £400-£950, and a full structural survey can cost £600-£1,500 or more.
Is it worth paying for house survey?
Yes, paying for a house survey is worth it. It identifies potential problems, helps negotiate the property price, and provides peace of mind. The cost can offset unforeseen repair expenses later.
Obtaining a home survey is a crucial part of the home-buying process. It provides an independent assessment of the property’s condition, helping you avoid unexpected issues or costs after purchase. By understanding the different types of surveys and their costs, and by comparing quotes from qualified chartered surveyors, you can make a well-informed decision when buying your new home.