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The Ultimate Guide to Home Surveys for Home Buyers

Home purchases are one of the biggest investments you'll make during your lifetime, so it is vital that you fully comprehend its condition prior to finalising a deal. A home survey performed by an accredited surveyor offers an in-depth view of any issues which need addressing. This comprehensive guide covers everything about a house survey from their importance, types, and costs, and how best to use them effectively.
In this guide
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    What is a Home Survey?

    Home surveys are professional assessments conducted on properties by qualified surveyors to ascertain their condition and identify any issues, from minor repairs to serious structural concerns, that require attention. Their inspection covers various elements including but not limited to:

    • The type of walls and their condition

    • The state of the glazing

    • Any urgent defects that need immediate attention

    • The condition of the roof and loft, including insulation

    • The state of the doors and windows

    • The condition of the plumbing and electrical systems

    • Signs of damp or mold

    • Evidence of pest infestations

    • The condition of permanent outbuildings and structures

    • The state of the property’s drainage system

    After inspecting, a surveyor provides a detailed report outlining the condition of the property that can help inform your purchase decision and avoid unexpected repair costs. Home buyers typically arrange and pay for this property survey after having made an offer that has been accepted but before exchanging contracts. This allows any significant findings from the survey to be addressed, potentially influencing the final purchase decision or the agreed price.

    Why is a Home Survey Important?

    While not mandatory, a home survey is highly recommended as it can help you:

    • Avoid expensive and unexpected surprises, such as an unforeseen rewiring job or structural issues

    • Gain peace of mind

    • Influence your decision to buy the property, renegotiate the price, or request the seller to fix any problems before the purchase

    Navigating the Types of Home Surveys

    Home surveys come in various types, each offering different levels of detail. The choice hinges on your budget, the property’s age, and its condition. Here are the main types:

    This is a basic survey conducted by the mortgage lender to ensure the property is worth the price you’re paying. Often called free valuation surveys they are a mandatory part of getting a mortgage but don’t replace the need for a home survey as it won’t point out repairs or structural problems that you will have to pay to fix.

    Everyone is given the option to upgrade there mortgage valuation survey to one of the below.

    Previously known as a Condition Report, the RICS Home Survey Level 1 is the most basic and cost-effective survey. It’s suitable for conventional properties in reasonable condition. The survey provides a ‘traffic light’ rating of the property’s condition, highlighting problems that may require varying degrees of attention.

    RICS Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

    Formerly known as an RICS HomeBuyer Report, the RICS Home Survey Level 2 is a mid-level survey is a popular choice for conventional properties in reasonable condition. It covers everything in Level 1, plus checks on roof spaces and cellars. Some reports include a property valuation, which can be used to renegotiate the price if the survey reveals a lower value than the mortgage lender’s valuation.

    Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) & Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA)

    Also known as a full structural survey or an RICS building survey, the RICS Home Survey Level 3 is the most comprehensive survey. It’s suitable for all residential properties, especially older homes or those that might need repairs. This survey provides detailed advice on repairs, even if they can’t look under floorboards or behind walls.

    Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) & Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA)

    This is an independent inspection to look for any issues with a new property. Developers should fix faults highlighted before you move in.

    Home Surveys vs Mortgage Valuations

    As part of your application for a mortgage loan, your mortgage lender will conduct a property valuation to make sure its value jives with what you intend to pay – this process is often referred to as a valuation “survey”, though this term can sometimes be misleading.

    Mortgage valuations do not provide as complete an analysis as full house surveys and should not be seen as an alternative solution to one. In some cases, the valuation may not even involve a physical visit to the property.

    Therefore, it’s crucial to arrange an independent survey once your offer has been accepted. This ensures you’re not overpaying for your new home or unknowingly purchasing a property with significant issues.

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    Mortgage Advisor - Hannah

    Case Study: The Impact of Upgrading to a Home Survey

    Hannah (YesCanDo Mortgage Adviser)
    Let me give a real-life example to illustrate the value of upgrading to a RICS Home Survey: My customer John was about to purchase an ideal property through an estate agent and when the surveyor conducted a Level 3 RICS Home Survey, it revealed several significant structural issues such as leaky roof and damp basement conditions that required significant repair costs in future. Armed with this information, John renegotiated the price, saving thousands in potential repair expenses.

    An Experts Opinion on Home Surveys

    According to Robert Johnson, a seasoned surveyor with three decades of experience,

    Home surveys are essential tools for prospective homebuyers. They allow you to better understand the property’s condition and enable informed decisions about investing. As laypersons, we may spot obvious issues like dampness; however, more complex issues like structural instability or invasive species could go undetected without professional inspection – why take such risks?”

    Though not legally mandated, surveys are highly recommended. A survey can show if a property needs any significant repairs that might impact your final decision – for instance if significant repair costs emerge after conducting your survey you could either renegotiate its price or request that the seller perform repairs before proceeding with purchase – ultimately informed decisions are the most sound ones!

    Understanding the Costs of Home Surveys

    The cost of a home survey can vary depending on the type of survey and the property’s price. Here are some estimated costs:

    • Level 1 RICS Home Survey: £300 – £900
    • Level 2 RICS Home Survey: £400 – £1000
    • Level 3 RICS Home Survey: £630 – £1500
    • New-Build Snagging Survey: £300 – £600

    These costs are estimates and can vary based on factors such as the location and value of the property, as well as the surveyor conducting the survey. Learn more about getting a building survey quote and home buyers survey quotes here.

    Survey costs vs property price

    Level of report and property price (£)£100,000-£249,000£250,000-£349,000£350,000-£499,000£500,000-£1m
    RICS Home Survey – Level 1£500£600£700£950
    RICS Home Survey – Level 2 / RPSA Home Condition Survey£500-600£600-700£700-800£1,000
    RICS Home Survey – Level 3 / RPSA Building Survey£700-750£800-900£900-£1,100£1,500
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    How to Choose a Surveyor

    Choosing the right surveyor is crucial to ensure a thorough and accurate home survey. Here are some expert tips:

    1. Check Credentials: Ensure your surveyor is a member of a recognised governing body such as the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA) or Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

    2. Get Recommendations: You can find a surveyor on the RPSA or RICS websites, ask friends and family for recommendations, or check online ratings and reviews.

    3. Compare Quotes: Get quotes from multiple surveyors and compare their services and prices to ensure you’re getting the best value.

    What to Do if Your Survey Uncovers Problems

    If your survey uncovers issues, you have several options:

    1. Renegotiate the Price: If the survey reveals problems that will be costly to fix, you can renegotiate the price with the seller.

    2. Request Repairs: You can ask the seller to fix the problems before you complete the purchase.

    3. Walk Away: If the issues are too serious or the seller refuses to negotiate or make repairs, you have the option of walking away from your purchase.

    Don’t be daunted by a home survey; its purpose is to ensure you’re making an intelligent investment decision. Don’t hesitate to act upon its findings.

    Home Survey FAQs

    The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about Home Surveys. You might find the answers to your queries here, but if not, don’t hesitate to reach out to our expert team today for further guidance and assistance.

    Yes, it’s worth paying for a house survey. An inspection gives you a deep insight into the property’s condition, helping identify any issues that could require costly repairs down the line. An inspection report may influence your decision about purchasing, renegotiation of price or requesting repairs.

    A house survey involves a thorough inspection of a property’s condition by a professional surveyor. They assess the property and identify any issues, from minor repairs to significant structural problems, providing a comprehensive report detailing their findings.

    The three main types of house surveys are the RICS Home Survey Level 1 (Condition Report), Level 2 (HomeBuyer Report), and Level 3 (Full Structural Survey). Each offers different levels of detail, with Level 3 being the most comprehensive.

    Cost of surveys in the UK depends upon its type and specifics; typically a Level 1 RICS Home Survey costs between £300 and £900 while Level 2 costs £400-£1100 while a level 3 can range between £630-£1500. A New-Build Snagging Survey can range from £300 to £600. These costs are estimates and can fluctuate based on factors such as location, property value, and the chosen surveyor.

    Absolutely, homebuyers surveys are invaluable tools. By providing an in-depth report on the property’s condition, they help identify any costly repairs that could arise down the line and influence your decision to purchase, negotiate its price or request repairs.

    A home buyers survey involves a thorough inspection of the property’s condition. It covers visible issues, checks for signs of damp, subsidence, and structural issues, and provides a ‘traffic light’ rating of the property’s condition.

    You typically arrange a homebuyers survey after your offer has been accepted by the seller but before you exchange contracts. This allows you to renegotiate the price or request repairs if the survey uncovers any issues.

    The type of survey you need depends on the property’s age, condition, and type. A Level 1 or 2 surveys may suffice for newer properties in good condition. For older properties or those in poor condition, a Level 3 survey is recommended.

    The RPSA is a professional organization representing independent, specialist residential surveyors across the UK. Their aim is to promote high standards of practice and consumer protection within residential surveying services.

    The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is an internationally accredited professional body that serves to advance and uphold high professional standards within land, property, construction and infrastructure sectors worldwide. RICS stands as an advocate of professional excellence within these sectors worldwide.


    Home surveys are an essential element of home-buying process. By providing an in-depth assessment of a property’s condition, they allow buyers to make an informed decision while possibly saving themselves from expensive repairs in the future. It’s wise to invest in home surveys whether this is your first purchase or a repeat one – you could save time, money, and heartache by doing so!

    YesCanDo Money: Your Trusted Partner in Home Buying

    At YesCanDo Money, we understand the complexities involved in home purchasing can be complicated and stressful. That’s why as an independent mortgage broker offering free online mortgage advice we’re here to guide you every step of the way – even helping explain its significance! Get in touch with us now for more details!

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