If you’re planning on a house move, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. A move can be both stressful and costly, and you don’t want to get to your new home only to discover there might be some serious maintenance problems within. This is why you might consider getting a Homebuyers Survey (also known as a Homebuyers Report or a House Survey), as you will be able to avoid any expensive surprises after you have moved in.
Let’s go into more detail on what a Homebuyer Survey is, the types of Homebuyer Surveys that might be right for the property you intend you move into, survey cost information, and the other details that you should know when deciding on a house survey or report.
What Is A Homebuyers Survey?
A home buyers survey is completed to produce a homebuyer report by a professional surveyor. They will examine and identify any problems that may exist in the property that you are looking to purchase. The finished report will outline any problems that have been found, such as damp and subsidence.
To avoid any legal problems with the seller later, the survey is best carried out before you exchange contracts with the homeowner, as you will then have informed knowledge about the house before the exchange takes place.
The Homebuyer Survey won’t detail every single aspect of the house in question, but it will reveal issues that might affect the property’s value. Unless you opt for a Level 3 survey, only issues that are visible to the naked eye will be reported on, so you shouldn’t expect the surveyor to examine every hidden facet of the property during the home buying survey. Below we will look into the types of surveys and the average price of each one.
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What Is Included In A Homebuyers Survey?
You can expect the Homebuyer Survey report to include the following:
- Background information on the house such as how many years old and its location
- A visual inspection of all major indoor features
- Details of the condition of the woodwork
- Results of damp tests that have been taken from the walls
- Assessments on the drainage, insulation, and damp-proofing
- Estimated costs of rebuilding (for the purposes of insurance)
- Details of any significant problems that require attention before contracts are exchanged
- Details of any significant faults that may affect the property value
- Advice on repairs and maintenance
- An energy-efficiency reading
The property survey completed will highlight any issues in the Homebuyer report. The report will be written in plain English, so you don’t need to worry about any complicated jargon. However, the surveyor will clarify anything that you aren’t sure about, so don’t be afraid to ask them any questions.
Hiring a property surveyor
When hiring a surveyor for a building survey, you should check that they a member of a UK accrediting body for surveyors. These bodies include:
RICS – Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
SAVA – Surveyors And Valuers Accreditation
RSPA – Residential Property Surveyors Association
You can find chartered surveyors RICS, SAVA, and RSPA online using comparison websites, but a quick Google search will point you in the direction of local surveying companies and independent surveyors. Search terms like ‘RICS homebuyer reports in London’ or ‘home surveyors near me’.
The other way to make sure you get expert advice is to get recommendations from family and friends. Either way, make sure you read surveyor reviews online to improve your chances of finding the best person for your home buying survey.
What To Do If The Report Highlights Any Problems
The majority of chartered surveyors reports will uncover some sort of problem, especially when it is an older property that has been surveyed, so don’t panic if a “problem” arises. Talk through the highlighted issues with the surveyor, and they will answer any pressing questions you might have.
There are some issues that might not need to be explored in-depth but then there are those that will and these can include anything to do with the electrics, the property structure, and the central heating. The surveyor should be happy to discuss these with you and will give you an idea of the repair costs you might be expected to pay when getting these problems fixed. You should then get accurate quotes from a selection of the relevant building professionals and compare the total cost of each company. At this stage, you might decide to walk away from the property if you haven’t yet exchanged contracts, or you could negotiate a fairer price with the seller.
What Are The Different Types Of Homebuyers Surveys?
There are a few different types of property survey that you should consider, as outlined below. Have a read below to find out which type of survey would suit your needs.
RICS Condition Report (Level 1)
The RICS condition report is the most basic type of survey and it gives an overview of the condition of the property. The condition report won’t go into great detail, but it will highlight any significant issues or anything really not in good condition. No advice or valuation is provided in this type of home buyers report, so it is more suitable for modern properties where the property condition is better.
This level 1 report uses a traffic light system to illustrate the condition of different parts of the property. From this traffic light report, you will be able to ascertain the seriousness of each part, and whether or not there will be any urgency in getting the highlighted problems fixed. You should only really get this type of survey the property is in a good condition.
For more information on the RICS Condition Report click here.
RICS Homebuyer Report (Level 2)
This is the standard choice for conventional properties that are in a reasonably good condition. It covers everything found in the property’s Condition Report but there are added extras.
This type of homebuyer report will list any issues that might affect the value of the property. These can include damp and subsidence, and any other aspect of the house that doesn’t meet building regulations. As stated earlier, the surveyor will only identify surface-level issues, so you can’t expect them to look underneath your floorboards or any other area that is not immediately visible.
This level 2 report should also include information on how much the surveyor thinks the property is worth, so this will be indicative of how fair the property price.
SAVA Home Condition Survey (Level 2)
This is an alternative to the RICS Homebuyer Report. It is very similar in nature although it won’t include the market valuation. Photographs will be included so it makes any issues easier to understand. And it will also flag any legal questions that the surveyor considers relevant.
RICS Building Survey (Level 3)
AKA the ‘Full Structural Survey’
This level 3 survey will present an in-depth look at the property’s condition, and you will be given advice on repairs, defects, and guidance on how to maintain the property. RICS building survey Level 3 is also known as a full structural survey. It looks into a property’s condition with a fine-tooth comb and is your best option if you are buying properties that are 50 years old or that looks to be in a poor condition.
Unlike the other property survey reports, the surveyor will get more hands-on with the property. They will check the attic, look beneath floorboards, and carry out more thorough examinations elsewhere. If asked, the surveyor will also include projected repairs and maintenance costs for any work that needs to be done on the property, and they will provide the relevant timescales too. This survey costs the most but could save you from costly hidden issues.
A New-Build Snagging Survey
Another type of building survey is the New-Build Snagging Survey which, as the name suggests, is designed to check for problems within a new build. This type of house survey cost between £300 and £600 depending on the overall size of the property. This home report will pick up minor issues such as a door that won’t close properly, to more serious structural problems that could have long-term repercussions.
How Much Does A Home Survey Cost?
The house survey costs you will be expected to pay will depend on the type of survey you decide on. Costs will also vary depending on the size of the property, the type, and also the location of the property that is being surveyed.
It is worth getting quotes from several surveyors, as they will all charge different amounts. To help keep the cost down, commit to research online before accepting the first quote you are given.
Find a surveyor that is both cost-effective and highly rated. For an idea of the building survey costs for your homes buyer’s valuation, check out the figures below.
House Survey Costs: What You Will Be Expected To Pay
We break down the house surveys and the cost you can expect for each one.
Condition Report Cost
For a Condition Report, the lowest cost you will be expected to pay will be between £250 and £400 for a house that is below £99,000. For more expensive properties, the condition report price will rise.
This could be around:
- £500 for a house costing between £100,000 and £249,000
- £600 for a house costing between £250,000 and £349,000
- £700 for a house costing between £350,000 and £499,000
- and upwards of £950 for a house that exceeds £500,000.
Level 2 Homebuyers Surveyor or Home Condition Survey Cost
Level 2 Surveys, the cost starts around £400 for houses that are priced below £99,000. For more expensive properties, prices will be around:
- £600 for a house costing between £100,000 and £249,000
- £700 for a house costing between £250,000 and £349,000
- £800 for a house costing between £350,000 and £499,000
- and upwards of £1000 for a house that exceeds £500,000.
The Building Survey Cost
The Building Survey is the most expensive, the cost starts at around £650 for houses below the £99,000 asking price. For houses in higher brackets, prices will be around:
- £750 for a house costing between £100,000 and £249,000
- £900 for a house costing between £250,000 and £349,000
- £1100 for a house costing between £350,000 and £499,000
- and upwards of £1500 for houses over £500,000.
New Build Snagging Survey Cost
Then there’s the New Build Snagging Survey, where you will be expected to pay between £300 and £600 depending on the size of the property.
These are the expected figures, but to find a surveyor get quotes from different surveyors to align the cost of the property you’re looking at with the prices they will charge.
Is It Worth Getting A Homebuyers Survey?
In most cases, as a homebuyer, it is definitely worth getting a survey completed. While you might resent the cost of an extra expense, there are some valid reasons why a house survey of any kind should be worth considering. Homes can easily hide issues that can add up to a large cost, this is why it is worth the insurance of no hidden secrets or cost in the property you are buying.
You will be able to renegotiate the type of property
If the property survey report highlights any defects that require costly repairs, you have two choices. You can either refuse to buy the property or negotiate the asking price with the seller. You can use the survey as leverage, and point out the repairs that you will have to undertake to ensure the property is liveable. Of course, the seller might decide to carry out these repairs themselves, but they are more likely to lower the price to the property to save themselves time and hassle.
You can resume your house search elsewhere
If the building survey highlights repair costs and defects that are going to be too costly for you to manage, you can decide to continue the search for properties elsewhere. This way, you will be able to find a house that requires less maintenance, which is ideal if you’re not planning to make any renovations after moving in. The alternative is not getting a building survey done, moving into a property that contains expensive hidden defects, and the prospect of both health and safety issues and extra expenses that you hadn’t accounted for.
You’re making an expensive purchase
If you were buying a new kettle or toaster for your home, it wouldn’t necessarily cause you a massive headache if you later discovered they didn’t work properly. You could either recycle or return them and quickly buy another. But buying a house is obviously different. It will be one of the most expensive spending decisions you will ever make, and if something goes wrong after buying, the chances of you getting a refund are slim! The house survey and home report might be relatively expensive, but it is only a small percentage of the full price of the property, so it’s an expense that shouldn’t be ignored. You will then have the peace of mind that all is okay if you decide to make an offer on the property or you will have the choice to walk away if you suspect the property in question is a money pit.
A Homebuyers Survey is not the same as a mortgage valuation
What is a mortgage valuation survey?
Before agreeing to a mortgage deal, your mortgage lender might ask for a property valuation. This is for their benefit, not yours, as they will be trying to assess how much money they need to lend you. While their valuation might indicate certain property defects, it won’t report back any major structural problems, and you won’t get to find out what repairs might need to be done on the property.
A mortgage valuation survey report is very basic in comparison to a homebuyer report, so you should never assume your best interests are covered when the lender asks for a mortgage valuation. When we say that mortgage lender’s valuation surveys are quite basic (it can sometimes literally just be a driveby valuation) and purely aims to certify to the banks (the lender) that the building you plan to purchase is matching its mortgage value enough to secure against your mortgage ‘loan agreement’.
A more in-depth homebuyer report is needed, as you will then find out most of the details you need to help you make a more informed decision. As we discussed, you will then have the opportunity to negotiate a fairer asking price with the estate agent/seller, or you will have the incentive to walk away before you make a very costly mistake.
In some cases, mortgage valuations can down value a property. When the mortgage valuation is down valued it can cause mortgage affordability issues which can stop mortgage applications in their tracks. It can also work in your favour when the lender’s valuation increases a homes valuation, giving you greater mortgage options.
You can budget for the repairs that need to be carried out
The last thing you want to happen is to find yourself out of pocket because of unexpected expenses that have been instigated by your property. Moving house is expensive enough and budgeting is key. When you buy a property you buy it for what the property is worth. If you find out how much you need to pay on repair work before moving in, you will be able to make the necessary adjustments to your spending and keep money back for any maintenance issues that have been found. Even if the property size is small or the building is in a reasonable condition, it is still vital you book in at least one of the property surveys. In the case the survey picks up hidden repair work, it could be that you renegotiate with the estate agent to ask the seller if they would take it off the price.
You’re not a surveyor, hire a professional
A surveyor has both the training and experience needed to carry out the homebuyer reports. They know what to look out for when inspecting a property, and they know what to advise the prospective home buyer. Assuming you’re not a surveyor yourself, it is in your best interests to hire a professional who can help you make an informed decision. They will answer any questions you might have and will discuss the pros and cons of the property you are considering. They can do much more than that, of course, and we have detailed some of what they will do already. So, despite the expense of hiring a surveyor, remember that it always pays to get an expert opinion.
How Long Does A Homebuyers Survey Take
This will depend on the size of the property and the type of survey you have asked for. But generally speaking, it should take between 2-4 hours to complete for a Level 1 report, and between 3-5 working days for the surveyor to return the survey to you. This is the case for homes considered to be in a reasonable condition.
When it comes to a house in a very poor condition, the length of time for the surveyor to complete the inspection will take longer. Especially when you are asking for a more in-depth Building Survey, it might take up to 8 hours to complete, depending on the size of the property in question.
With Level 2 or Level 3 reports, the length of time it will take for the survey to be returned could be longer due to the complexity of the report. Expect up to 10 days, and ask for it to be emailed to you if you would rather not endure the increased time it will take when mailed by post.
In any case, book the survey as soon as you have made your offer to the seller. The sooner you know what the situation with the property is, the better, as you will then be in a better position to plan your next move. As stated earlier, you might decide to withdraw your offer and ask for a negotiation, or you might want to continue your search for new properties elsewhere.
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