What happens during a house survey?

Posted on Monday, 20 August 2018 | Written by Hayward Moon

As a homebuyer, it is always strongly advised that you have a survey carried out. There are different types you can choose from, depending on the size and age of the property.

Deciding which survey you choose, will depend on the state of the property, the value and how thorough you want to be.

Your requirements will determine the level of detail your surveyor will go into when evaluating the property's condition and how much you will pay for the service, as not all surveys are the same.

Your estate agent will conduct a valuation of the property you are hoping to buy. You shouldn't accept this as a survey. If you're trying to buy a property with a mortgage, your mortgage company will conduct a valuation to assess whether the property is worth the money you are paying.

You will receive a copy of your mortgage valuation, but it won't highlight problems you may usually find in a survey. It is essential that you employ a surveyor yourself to undertake a thorough inspection of the property you wish to buy.

So with that said, what sort of survey should you get? We have rounded up an array of surveys you can have.

Condition Report (survey level one – £300 or more)

The most basic survey you can get and the cheapest. It doesn’t go into much detail so may leave you wanting more:

• It is designed to complement the mortgage valuation
• It provides ‘traffic light’ indications as to the state of various parts of the property. Green means everything is ok, orange is some cause for concern, and red means serious repairs are vital
• It also provides you with a summary of the property’s defects and possible risks affecting the home
• It does not include any advice nor a valuation

HomeBuyers Report (survey level two)

These are a more detailed survey and the most popular option according to RICS. There are two options in this category – you can choose to have one with or without a valuation:

HomeBuyers Report (survey only – £350 or more)

• It will tell you any obvious significant problems – visible rot, subsidence, etc.
• But, the surveyor is non-intrusive: they will not look behind furniture, nor lift up floorboards or drill any holes, so any report they draw up is limited
• Furthermore, Home Buyers Reports are usually so full of caveats and statements designed to cover the surveyor’s back that they can be pointless

HomeBuyers Report (survey and valuation – £450 or more)

• The second option includes all of the above, plus an insurance reinstatement value and an estimated current market value.

Home Condition Survey (£400- £900)

• Conducted by specialists in residential surveys and produced in a consistent, consumer-friendly format
• Include practical information such as broadband speed, damp assessment and boundary issues for the conveyancer to consider
• Reports are independently checked to ensure consistency and quality

Building Survey (survey level three – £500 or more)

• They range in price from under £500 to about £2000 depending on the size of the home
• They are extensive surveys, and you will be given a detailed report at the end
• The surveyor will get into the attic, check behind walls, and look between floors and above ceilings
• It includes advice on repairs, and provides estimated timings and costs, and will tell you what will happen if you do not do the repairs
• Unless specified, it probably will not include an insurance reinstatement value estimate or a market valuation


When it comes to moving home, we’d love to help you with the legal side of things. With offices based in Ipswich, Colchester, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge and Diss, we’re well situated to help you get a move on. Get in touch here.

Ipswich 01473 234730
Bury St Edmunds 01284 727290
Diss 01379 646040
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Colchester 01206 710717

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