Buying a home is a huge decision, and one of the most expensive investments you’ll likely ever make. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or looking into buying additional property, you’ll want to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible and avoid any unwelcome costs. It’s important to consider investing in a property survey before you take the leap! Choosing between a homebuyers survey and a building survey can seem like a daunting task, but we’ve broken them down to the basics so you can make the best choice for your new property.
What is a property survey?
A property survey is a detailed examination and inspection of the condition of a property, which should be carried out by a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The surveyor can identify problems within the property – such as structural issues, required repairs or issues with damp – and provide you with expert insight on attributes such as local property values, building materials, and glazing. It would be reasonable to ask a seller to reduce the asking price or complete maintenance and repairs themselves before selling the property if the survey found that essential repairs were required.
Although a survey is not an obligatory aspect of buying a home, they should be carried out as a general “health check” on the building before you buy it, so you know you’re not being overcharged for a property that will require investment in repairs and maintenance, and you won’t come across any unwelcome surprises later on – like a sudden roof repair or urgent electrician call-out!
What kind of property survey should I choose?
There are several different kinds of property surveys. Although any RICS surveyor will provide you with a full inspection and a “Traffic Light” report (a green rating means the property requires very little to no maintenance and repairs, while red means the surveyor recommends urgent repairs to be carried out), there are some differences between the two most popular survey options – a Homebuyers Survey and a Building Survey, sometimes referred to as a Structural Survey.
A Homebuyers Survey is typically carried out on simple, unlisted properties that are under 120 years old and seem to be in reasonable condition – for example, a regular semi-detached home which hasn’t been renovated to edit the original floorplan. During a Homebuyers Survey, a surveyor will create a report based on the overall condition of the property, highlighting any immediate issues or defects.
What’s included in a Homebuyers Survey?
- A ‘traffic light’ rating of the condition of the building, including garages or outbuildings. The traffic light report indicates whether there are any urgent repairs required to the building.
- A summary of any potential risks to the condition of the building, for example weather damage to the exterior which may impact drainage.
- A list of problems the RICS surveyor identifies that could affect the property, and advice on maintenance or repairs.
- Any legal issues that must be addressed before completing your purchase.
- If your surveyor is local, they may be able to provide information about the location, environment and energy efficiency in the area.
If your property is an older listed building, or in poor condition, opt for a Building Survey or Structural Survey, which is a more comprehensive option. If the property you’re hoping to buy has been extensively renovated, this is a great option as the surveyor can identify which parts of the property are original and may need repairs or maintenance more urgently than the rest of the building. The surveyor will go into a more detailed analysis of the building itself and its structural integrity, including any problems which might arise in the future.
What’s included in a Building Survey?
- Detailed information about the structure and fabric of the property.
- A more thorough examination of the building and a report detailing a wider range of issues than the Homebuyers Survey.
- A detailed description of visible defects and potential hidden flaws, with an outline of repair options and advice about the consequences of inactivity.
- Advice for your legal advisers about serious risks or dangerous conditions.
You could save thousands of pounds by investing in a property survey. You can get a quick quote with Survey2Go, but if you’d like advice relating to a specific property or you’d like to chat to a member of our team about which property survey is right for you, call 0330 174 0646 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.