Choosing the Right Survey

Do I need a Homebuyer report or a 'full structural' Building Survey?

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 Choosing the right survey


Picking the right survey for the property you’re buying can be a little confusing. A lender’s valuation is usually required when you are buying a home and is sometimes (mistakenly) referred to as a mortgage survey. But this is NOT a survey. It’s a limited check on the home that your mortgage lender carries out to ensure it’s worth the money they’re lending you.

There may be problems in the property that would cost a huge amount to put right – and they won’t appear in the valuation report. This is why it’s really important you have a survey before you buy your home. An RICS chartered surveyor is fully qualified to carry out a survey.

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is also not a survey. By law, this has to be provided by a seller (or agent) when a home is marketed for sale.

So what’s the right survey for your property?  There are several types of ‘proper’ home surveys –  see the following links.

The two main types are the Homebuyer Report (RICS Survey Level 2)  and the full Building Survey (RICS Survey Level 3). These are described in detail below:-


 RICS Building Survey

 Choose an RICS Building Survey if you’re dealing with a large, older or run-down property, a building that is unusual or altered, or if you’re planning major works. It costs more than the other RICS reports because it gives detailed information about the structure and fabric of the property.

 It includes:
• a thorough inspection and a detailed report on a wider range of issues
• a description of visible defects and potential problems caused by hidden flaws
• an outline of the repair options and the likely consequences of ignoring repairs, and
• advice for your conveyancers and details of serious risks and dangerous conditions.

 An RICS Building Survey does NOT include a valuation, but your surveyor may be able to provide this as a separate extra service. Estimated costs of repairs may also be included as an option.


See sample RICS Building Survey report





RICS Homebuyer report

This report provides concisely written, reasonably detailed information, for buyers (or sellers) of conventional houses, flats or bungalows built from standard building materials.

It includes:-

• an extensive inspection

• a list of problems that the surveyor thinks affect the value of the property (given a ‘traffic light’ rating)

• advice on repairs and ongoing maintenance

• issues that need to be investigated to prevent serious damage or dangerous conditions

• the surveyor’s professional opinion on the ‘Market Value’ of the property, if required

• an insurance reinstatement figure for the property, if required

• any legal issues that need to be addressed before completing your conveyancing and

• information on location, local environment and the recorded energy efficiency (where available).


See sample RICS HomeBuyer report



Different homes require different types of survey.

This video on the RICS Facebook page explains which survey is recommended for each property type:-