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Building Surveyors provide an essential service in the acquisition and maintenance of any building, whatever the size or type. In a series of blogs, we plan to outline the role of a chartered building surveyor when it comes to house buying, the different type of surveys available, explaining what the survey results actually mean and what happens when your surveyor does find something wrong with the property. 

In this first post, we’re going to take a look at why the survey is so crucial and the different types of surveys available.

A lot of home-buyers under estimate the influence that a survey can have during the process of purchasing their next home. Some people don’t want to pay the additional fees on top of everything else , whilst others simply don't understand what a survey is there to do, and how much it can protect you, as the future owner.

Once your offer has been accepted on your dream home, your next step is to get a house survey done. Essentially house surveys help you find out the condition of the building and highlight any problems at an early stage. This can be used as a great bargaining chip before you sign on the dotted line. Sometimes the results can be so severe, your survey becomes the difference between you progressing with the sale or walking away. Believe us, this isn’t something you want to neglect doing.

We get it, when you’re buying a house there are so many outgoings that a survey can seem like a big expense. But it’s far better to be aware of any problems with your future home from the very beginning. After all, you wouldn’t want to find yourself paying out some large costs, which you had no idea about, once you’ve exchanged contracts. At that point it all falls down to you.

So be prepared, be proactive; invest in your future home. You’ll rest easy on that first night of moving in.

So what surveys do you need? Ian Smith from our team explains the different type available:

Homes may require a different survey, dependent on its age, grade and infrastructure. We’re a big fan of this RICS video, which explains the importance of getting your home surveyed. Or read on for advice on the various surveys available.

Level One - Condition Report

This shows the condition of a property, providing guidance to legal advisors and will highlight pretty quickly if there are any urgent issues that need dealing with. The survey will use a traffic light system to rate the maintenance of the building. This is typically the lowest priced survey, aimed at standard houses or new build styles.

Level Two - HomeBuyer Report

This is when it starts to get a little more interesting; here there are two options;

HomeBuyer Report (survey): This is a common choice for more modern houses that are in a reasonable condition. It includes all the features of the RICS Condition Report, but also goes into more detail about the defects that could affect the property with repairs and on-going maintenance advice, such as damp and subsidence. The surveyor will point anything out that doesn’t meet current building regulations.

A Limited Survey is based on the same format as a Building Survey (see below) but is more restricted in scope, and in some circumstances may be more appropriate. The inspection comprises a detailed analysis of the following elements:

• Chimneys • Roof coverings • Roof structure • External walls • Internal walls • Floors • Ceilings • Dampness • Timber Defects

This inspection specifically excludes the following elements, many of which you will be able to make your decision about, or may have been recently renewed:

• Rainwater goods • Decorations, ceramic tiling and finishes generally • Internal and external joinery • Security and fire precautions • Services • Sanitary and kitchen fittings • Outbuildings • Above and below ground drainage • External areas • Environmental matters • Thermal efficiency

RICS Building Survey – Level Three

An essential survey for larger or older properties that are over 50 years old, or if you are planning major works following the purchase. This provides the most in-depth analysis of the property’s condition, as well as any defects, repairs and on-going maintenance advice. The surveyor will carry out a thorough inspection and provide a highly detailed report, the investigation will include checking the attic and under floor coverings. Projected costs and timings will also be included with the report.

The RICS provides standard formats for the above surveys, but many Building Surveyors prefer to use their own formats, which will provide the same level of information.

A home is one of the most expensive purchases people ever make, it’s important you make the right, informed decision. As an owner you will benefit from expert advice on the condition of your property. Want to speak to our team about a house survey? Just click here.