Different Types and Level of House Surveys

A chartered surveyors RICS building survey will give you a clear understanding of any significant issues and even, urgent defects that can be missed by a quick visual inspection.

An informed decision before moving in could save you thousands of pounds on: 

  • Your final offer
  • Budget needed for repair work

or call us for advice today!

Why do I need a building survey?

“Around one in six (17 per cent) or 4.1 million homes failed to meet the Decent Homes Standard. 16 per cent were owner-occupied homes”.
(Source: English Housing Survey, 2019-2020 – Ministry of Housing, Local Communities and Government).

Under the Decent Homes Standard, an occupied property must meet the statutory minimum standard for housing, including:

  • Be in a reasonable condition and state of repair.

(Source: Housing Health and Safety System, April 2006 – Ministry of Housing, Local Communities and Government).

Know a property's condition before making an offer

It’s essential you are made fully aware of any problems with the property’s condition before making your final decision.

Whatever the property type –

Even if you’re buying a new modern property* or a previously occupied residence.

“94 per cent of new-build homeowners report at least one defect once their property is complete”.(Source: Home Builders Federation Survey, March 2022)

“The average property now comes with as many as 157 defects – up 96 per cent from 80 in 2005”. (Source: BuildScan, August 2021. 

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Full and detailed home survey report

Making a property purchase is one of the biggest decisions you can make throughout your lifetime.

Are you thinking...

  • You’re already spending a huge amount of money, just buying your property.

  • A house survey feels like an additional and unnecessary expense.

Why not simply order a Homebuyer Report or a more basic survey, such as the Condition Report?

What you need to know…

  • House surveys provide comprehensive analysis with a full and detailed report.

*Snagging Survey - for new-build homes

Prospective buyers of a new-build home can carry out a snagging survey into the condition of the property. This type of building survey is more detailed than a basic Condition Report. A snagging survey will typically pick up both minor defects and more structural problems, including:

  • Doors failing to close properly.
  • Kitchen worktop issues.
  • Poorly finished plastering.
  • Mis-aligned tiling and poor grouting.
  • Gaps around skirting boards.

Older properties
1 in 4 older properties are more than 100 years old “The private sector has the highest proportion of older dwellings with 23 per cent built before 1919”. (Source: English Housing Survey, 2019-2020 – Ministry of Housing, Local Communities and Government). The detailed advice supplied on older properties, which often have several significant structural problems, and can be even more critical. You are also advised to carry out a full structural survey if planning renovations, extensions or a restoration on a period property.
Mortgage valuation
The results of a building survey can have an effect on a mortgage valuation as well as its property value / market valuation. A structural engineers inspection report on a residential property in a mortgage application can often be requested just days before the exchange. You’re not legally required to have a home survey carried out. However, a qualified surveyors’ more detailed report could save you thousands of pounds on unexpected repair costs or ongoing maintenance.

A detailed survey level could save you even more money

The results of a full building survey will supply any prospective buyer with essential information needed to negotiate with the house seller.

Whether the survey finds the repairs needed will cost a few hundred pounds or thousands of pounds – you could ask for the cost to be deducted from the asking price.

Alternatively, any repairs can be carried out by the seller before exchanging contracts.

Building Survey versus Structural Survey - what's the difference?

Structural survey

Designed to look specifically at the structural integrity of a property, which is always strongly recommended before purchasing:

  • Period properties

  • Heritage properties

  • Listed buildings

  • Older properties

  • Homes with unusual layouts

– or when planning a major renovation.

Building survey

Detailed inspection of a property’s condition. All accessible areas will be carefully inspected to identify any defects, major problems, and repairs necessary to be carried out.

Types of House Surveys

Types of house survey can appear complex and confusing.

Before a decision is taken as to which property survey is best to have – it’s important to understand the level of detail can vary significantly, depending on the type of survey needed.

You should also know that a house survey can be carried out by qualified surveyors recognised by one or other of the two main accrediting bodies:

  • RICS – Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

  • RPSA – Residential Property Surveyors Association

RICS – Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

A RICS Home Survey is divided into THREE levels:

Level 1 Property Survey

Can also be referred to as a Condition Report.

Limited to a visual inspection of a property’s condition only, and is the most basic type of survey. Risks and potential legal issues are only identified, and urgent defects are reported but without further detailed information.

Understandably, buyers of new-build homes or modern properties – seemingly in good condition – tend to opt for this type of survey as a quick “once over” for peace of mind before proceeding.

However, defects such as loose roof tiles, blocked guttering, trickle vent issues, vents not connected to air passages or uneven sealing can be missed.

Level 2 Property Survey

Often still called by its previous name, the Homebuyer Report.

This is known as a “mid level survey”, which tends to be the preferred house survey option by prospective buyers.

It’s often used before buying the average standard property, described as being in “reasonable condition”. The Home Buyer Report can also include a market valuation, if required.

A Level 2 house survey is a ‘non-intrusive’ type of inspection. The surveying process mostly consists of all the same visual assessments of a Condition Report.

However, Level 2 building surveys will also include:

  • Any defects that might affect the property and its market value.

  • Renovations or other work that significantly altered the property and fails to comply with current building regulations.

  • Recommendations and advice on necessary repairs and future maintenance.

Although this level of survey will include a visual assessment into the general condition of walls, cellars, floors, windows, doors, roofs, garages, for example, it will not go into as much detail as a Level 3 Home survey.

Level 3 Home Survey

A most thorough survey and a comprehensive inspection, also known as the Building Survey. The condition of the property is normally undertaken by a RICS regulated surveyor.

The RICS Home Survey – Level 3 includes:

  • Thorough inspection of the property.

  • Detailed report based on the inspection.

Under the ‘Description of the RICS Home Survey Level 3‘, their property surveys will:

  • Carefully and thoroughly inspect the inside and outside of the main building, and all permanent outbuildings.

  • Record visible construction and defects.

Where it’s not possible to physically access and inspect a part of the property, an explanation is provided in the ‘Limitations on the Inspection’ box in the relevant section of the Level 3 report.

RICS surveyors will also :

  • Not force or open up the fabric of the building without the consent of the owner/occupier.
    -or-

  • If there is a risk of causing personal injury or damage.

Particular areas of inspection, for which, RICS surveyors will need the consent of the owner/occupier include:

  • Taking up fitted carpets, fitted floor coverings or floorboards.

  • Moving heavy furniture.

  • Removing the contents of cupboards and roof spaces, etc.

  • Removing secured panels and/or hatches.

  • Unscrewing electrical fittings.

Structural integrity

A Level 3 survey is designed to also inspect the structural integrity of a property. This means the property survey can, and should be carried out by a qualified and experienced structural engineer.

Structural surveys are intended to address major load bearing and support concerns. Standard inspections of key structural components, include:

  • Foundations

  • Walls

  • Columns

  • Beams and roof members

Further investigation is carried out in more thorough detail, according to building type, age, the property’s condition and structural integrity.

Typical problems of ageing property can include:

  • Damaging affects of environmental pollution upon concrete. Any sign of corrosion in a building’s steelwork causing expansion, and cracking open of masonry facades.

  • Subsidence & Movement. The risk of subsidence and movement may only be indicated on a Homebuyer Report, and is a common structural engineering task. Especially, in London with its large number of residential properties over 50 years old.

Property Exterior

RICS property surveys also inspect the condition of:

  • Boundary walls.

  • Fences.

  • Permanent outbuildings.

  • Areas in common (shared) use.

Condition Ratings

RICS surveyor will apply condition ratings to the key parts of the main building, including garage and selected exterior parts.

The condition ratings are:

  • RDocuments to be requested before contract signed.

  • Condition Rating 3 Serious defects needing to be repaired, replaced or investigated urgently. Failure to carry out required actions could risk serious safety issues or severe long-term damage to property. Written quotations for repairs should be obtained prior to legal commitment to purchase.

  • Condition Rating 2Non-serious defects that need repairing or replacing, but not
    considered urgent. The property must be maintained in the normal way.

  • Condition Rating 1 No repair is currently needed. The property must be
    maintained in the normal way.

  • NIParts/area not inspected.

(Source: Description of the RICS Home Survey Level 3).

RPSA - Residential Property Surveyors Association

The RPSA home condition survey is split into two levels:

Level 1 Home Survey

Home Condition Survey – equivalent to RICS Level 2 Property Survey

Level 2 Home Survey

Building Survey –  equivalent to RICS Building Survey

Limited to a visual inspection of a property’s condition only.

Includes any risks, potential legal issues and urgent defects. Survey normally applied to ‘standard’ properties and relatively new homes in good condition.

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Mortgage Valuations

Mortgage Valuation Survey

There is an important difference between a mortgage valuation and a mortgage valuation survey.

Mortgage Valuation

This survey is intended as mortgage advice only. It’s sole purpose is to determine the value of a property (as security). It is therefore, for the benefit of the mortgage lender – not the house buyer – before a mortgage deal may be accepted and approved.

A mortgage valuation does not indicate the true condition of the property or reveal hidden issues.

It is not a detailed accurate analysis and will not highlight costly defects, potential faults or assess its structural integrity.

The valuation is very limited in its scope, and the information provided cannot be solely relied upon for in depth knowledge of its structural condition and integrity.

Mortgage Valuation Survey

Detailed and thorough assessment of a property’s condition, and whether each part is in good or poor condition.

A specific property survey report is completed by a chartered engineer. Each and every property defect item will be itemised, and where possible, appropriate repairs and anticipated costs evaluated.

The survey report on a residential property which supports a mortgage application can often be requested just days before the exchange.

House Survey Costs

The average cost of a house survey in the UK can range from around £300 -£1,400, according to the type of survey and condition of the property.

RICS Level 1 Home Survey (also known as a Condition Report) – £290 to £560 (Ave: £380).

RICS Level 2 Home Survey (also known as a Homebuyer Report) – £325 to £900 (Ave: £500).

RICS Level 3 Building Survey – £630 to £1,200 (Ave: £800).

RICS Mortgage Valuation Survey – £160 to £600 ( Ave: £320).

(Source: Compare My Move, May 2022).

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Expert Advice, Affordable Rates.

At AC Design Solutions, we have a passion for all types of engineering. Civil and structural engineering lie at the core of what we do.

We offer clients a truly bespoke service because we incorporate the latest technology, software and equipment into our day to day architectural practice.

This mix of experience in combination with our innovative approach ensures 100% guaranteed satisfaction project after project.

We would love to speak with you about your civil engineering project and discuss what we can do to help. 

or call us for advice today!