A Guide to the Different Types of Home Survey, Available in the UK
When buying a home you might want to get a home survey. But there are many types of home survey. Here we will look at the different types of home survey, what they cost and how to choose a home survey.
What is a Home Survey?
A home survey is a professional inspection of a property that is carried out by a surveyor. The survey will provide you with a report as to the nature and condition of the property and identify any possible problems with it. A home survey may also include a valuation of the property, but not always.
Depending on the type of survey home surveys can help you identify issues that might affect the property, its value and any work needed. Issues sometimes covered by home surveys include damp, dry rot, subsidence, non-standard construction methods, roofing problems, plumbing and drainage problems, Japanese knotweed, structural defects or any repairs needed.
Do I Really Need a Home Survey?
You may ask whether you really need a home survey in the first place. You do not actually have to have a home survey when buying a home. A home survey is not a legal requirement.
However, buying a property can be very risky without some kind of survey. A home survey will provide you with the information you need to help decide whether or not to buy it, whether the price is fair, and what you might have to spend on the property in future.
If you need a home survey it is usual to order the survey once your offer has been accepted.
Although home surveys are usually ordered by buyers a home survey may also be of use to property sellers too. You can get a home survey to help identify any problems with the property that might prevent or delay a sale.
Home Surveys in Scotland
Scotland has a different system. It is usually necessary for anyone selling a property in Scotland to have a Home Report before putting it up for sale. The Home Report is then made available to prospective buyers before they decide whether or not to buy the property.
Types of Home Surveys Available from RICS Surveyors
RICS is the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
RICS revised its range of surveys in early 2021. There are now four types of survey available from RICS members.
(Home surveys from RICS were previously often known as a Condition Report, Homebuyer Report and Building Survey or Structural Survey.)
RICS Home Survey Level 1
This home survey uses a traffic light type rating. It focuses on the condition of the property by rating the different parts of the building and flagging up any areas that need attention, identifies any risks and potential legal issues and highlights any urgent defects.
It is the lowest priced of the RICS surveys and is intended for conventional properties and newer properties.
RICS Home Survey Level 2 (Survey)
This home survey gives you more detailed information on the condition of the property. It includes advice about repairs needed or any ongoing maintenance issues.
This home survey is intended for conventional properties which are in reasonable condition.
RICS Home Survey Level 2 (Survey and Valuation)
As well as the home survey as above, this survey also includes the surveyor’s professional opinion on the market value of the property.
RICS Home Survey Level 3
This is the most comprehensive home survey from RICS. It provides you with an in-depth analysis of the property’s condition. It includes advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options.
This type of home survey is intended for larger or older properties, or if you’re planning major works.
Home Surveys from Sava
Sava surveyors offer a single Home Condition Survey or HCS. A Home Condition Survey is intended to be plain English, jargon-free report on the condition of a property. The surveyor is also able to add photos to the report to help the reader understand any issues.
A Home Condition Survey will cover building condition defects. Structural movement. Damp, rot and woodworm. Heating, drains, and electrical services. Alterations and additions. It includes a BCIS (Building Cost Information Service) rebuilding cost.
Home Surveys from the RPSA
RPSA is the Residential Property Surveyors Association. RPSA surveyors offer three types of home survey:
The Home Condition Survey (HCS)
The HCS home survey includes a full inspection and a comprehensive report. It is suitable for all property types.
A Building Survey (Full or Structural Survey)
This type of home survey is the highest level of a non-invasive survey from the RPSA. It is suitable for all properties but is particularly intended for older or more unusual properties or properties where problems are suspected.
A Buy-to-Let Survey
This home survey is aimed at buy-to-let investors. As well as the survey provided under the Home Condition Survey, a buy-to-let survey helps landlords comply with the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act requiring landlords to ensure their homes are fit for habitation.
It includes a review of the 29 potential hazard profiles listed under the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (as used by local authorities) and a Decent & Safe Homes (DASH) report that highlights any health and safety deficiencies.
Valuation Surveys and Mortgage Surveys
Valuation surveys or mortgage surveys, as they may be known, are not surveys as such. They are just a valuation of the property to establish what it is worth and to decide what size of mortgage may be offered on it. Valuation surveys or mortgage surveys do not always include an inspection of the property.
Banks and building societies will usually require a mortgage survey or valuation survey before deciding whether to offer a mortgage or not.
Another type of home survey to consider is the snagging survey. Snagging surveys are a type of survey you might have when buying a new-build property, or after a major building project such as a home extension.
The purpose of a snagging survey is to check for and find out about any defects with a newly constructed house or new building work. They mean that you can then you can ask your developer or builder to correct the defects before finally accepting the property.
Snagging surveys check for a variety of possible defects including plumbing problems, electrical problems, kitchen and bathroom installation, the installation of energy efficiency measures and decorative finishes.
A snagging survey would normally be in addition to any other type of survey you might have.
What do the Different Types of Home-Survey Cost?
The cost of a survey varies depending on the type of survey, the type of property and its value. A basic survey is likely to cost around £300. A detailed survey could cost £1,000 to £1,500 or more.
Survey costs also vary from surveyor to surveyor. It is a good idea to ask surveyors for a quotation of the cost and what each survey covers before choosing a home survey.
How to Get a Home Survey
You can order a home survey from a qualified surveyor or surveying practice. This might be a small local surveying practice or a larger survey company.
Surveyors who are qualified to carry out home surveys may be chartered surveyors and be MRICS-qualified members of RICS.
You can contact a surveyor direct, find one through a professional organisation, or use a home survey comparison site to compare survey costs.
Here are some useful contacts for home surveys:
Which Type of Survey Should I Order?
There is no right or wrong answer as to which type of home survey you should get. The type of home survey you might need depends on factors such as the type of property, what it is constructed from, the age of the property, the size of the property and if you are already aware of any possible defects or faults.
For example, a reasonably new brick-built house is likely to need a simpler home survey than an old semi-derelict house or something unusual like a converted barn or church.
Before choosing which type of home survey to have it is a good idea to speak to a surveyor. Tell them about the type, size and age of the property you are considering buying. Ask them what type of home survey they consider will be most appropriate for that property.
If you want to know exactly what each type of home survey will cover you can ask to see a copy of the surveyor’s terms of engagement or similar and a sample home survey.