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Your ultimate guide to surveying

November 2020

Buying a home? Think you’re covered because you’ve arranged a valuation report?

Think again.

A valuation report and a survey are not the same thing. In fact, a valuation is only used by the lender to help them decide whether or not to offer you a loan, and to check that the property you’re buying is worth the amount you’re paying for it.

It is more for the lender's benefit and it certainly won’t point out any structural issues or damp or dry rot – the sort of things you’d really value knowing about.

That’s why it’s recommended to get a survey as part of your property purchase - whether you’re buying for the 1st time or the 50th.

What’s a survey?

A survey is effectively a health-check on the property. It gives you an independent account of its current condition, and highlights potential problems that may arise in the future.

Did you know that, on average, people spend a whopping £5,750* on repairs once they've moved into their new home that they hadn’t budgeted for? You don't want to be one of those people.

There are a wide range of surveys, covering different levels of detail. We know costs can add up, but surveys don’t have to be expensive and could help you save thousands of pounds in repairs down the line.

If the survey reveals any problems, you might be able to ask the seller to fix them before you purchase. Better yet, you could choose to renegotiate the asking price, taking into account the results of the survey.

Where do I get a survey?

Go for a surveyor that is a member of a recognised governing body, such as RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). If you want peace of mind, you can arrange your survey through Countrywide Surveying Services. They have access to over 500 RICS qualified surveyors so can arrange someone with local knowledge and experience to survey your potential new home.

The different survey reports available are:

1. HomeFact® Report

This is a property condition report designed to offer you essential information about the home you are buying. It will help you understand your new home better - its condition both inside and out, and what you need to do to maintain it.

What you’ll get:

  • An interactive digital and photographic report
  • A report regulated by industry standards
  • Easy to follow summary of risks and legal matters
  • No jargon and helpful maintenance tips
  • Option to speak directly to your surveyor
  • A copy of your report within 24 hours of the surveyor inspection

2. RICS HomeBuyer Survey

This is one of the most popular surveys and is available on most conventionally constructed properties that are in reasonable condition.

This survey includes:

  • Clear ‘traffic light’ ratings of the condition of the different parts of the building
  • A review of the connected, garden areas, garage and outbuildings including advice on repairs and on-going maintenance
  • A summary of risks affecting the property
  • Identification of issues that need to be investigated to prevent serious damage or dangerous conditions
  • A summary of the legal issues which should be investigated before completing a purchase

3. RICS HomeBuyer Survey & Valuation

This option includes all the features above, as well as your surveyor’s professional opinion on the value of the property, plus a sum for building reinstatement for insurance purposes.

4. RICS Building Survey

This flagship survey is ideal if you are purchasing a larger, older or more unusual property, including one that has been significantly altered or extended. It’s also suitable for properties in poor condition and may be helpful if you are planning to carry out alterations.

This survey includes:

  • A more thorough and extensive inspection and a detailed report covering a wider range of issues
  • Detailed description of the construction of the property
  • Description and advice on the visible defects and potential problem areas
  • An outline of repair options and indication of the consequences if matters are not dealt with
  • Additional advice on energy efficiency
  • Identification of legal issues that need to be investigated before completing a purchase

Surveys in Scotland

There can be different requirements in Scotland. Most sellers are required to produce a Home Report which will be prepared by an independent member of RICS.

A Home Report consists of:

  • A single survey
  • An energy report
  • A property questionnaire

The Home Report provides a transparent snapshot of the condition of a property. The energy performance certificate provides you with useful information on the efficiency of the property and what could potentially be improved to reduce energy bills and reduce the property’s impact on the environment.

The key to Home Reports is to use a firm that is trusted by the mortgage lenders and who will rely on the valuation in offering a mortgage.

*ComRes research on behalf of RICS

For further advice about which survey to choose or if you'd like a survey quote...

Find out more