Homebuyer surveys

Which is the best type of property survey for you?

After you’ve made an offer on your new property, but before you’ve signed the contracts, it is usually advisable to appoint a qualified surveyor to look at it and identify any major repairs or alterations needed. There are various survey options available with different levels of detail.

A property survey is optional but they preempt any expensive or unwanted surprises, like an unexpected rewiring job, as well as giving you peace of mind by telling you that those hairline cracks don’t mean the house is falling down.

Purpose of a survey

A home is the most expensive purchase you’re ever likely to ever make. As an owner you will benefit from expert professional advice on the condition of your property, whether you plan to live in it, rent it out or sell it.

A survey will describe the property’s condition, identify any problems and, in some cases, detail necessary repairs. It’s different from a valuation survey, or mortgage valuation, because its intended for you, the buyer, rather than the mortgage provider. It contains information to help you decide if it’s sensible to continue with your purchase.

Types of survey

New-build snagging survey (£300+)

One of the most basic types of survey is a new-build snagging survey.

Newly built properties rarely have major issues, but you’ll get peace of mind from having yours checked by an independent surveyor. You can pass the report on to the property developer to make sure that any problems are addressed before you move in.

Condition report (£300+)

Another of the cheapest survey options is a condition report.

This report uses a colour-coded system to describe the condition of the home, with red indicating serious defects and urgent repairs, amber indicating non-urgent repairs and maintenance, and green indicating areas with no visible issues.

The report only describes the property defects, it doesn’t provide advice in addressing them. It won’t tell you if these defects affect the value of the home.

Homebuyer report (£450+)

The most popular type of survey is a homebuyer report.

This report looks for any serious issues that would decrease the value of the property or make it dangerous to live in. It includes a visual inspection of the ceilings, walls and floors, the outside of the home, and the gas, water, electric, heating, and drainage systems. It will also test for problems such as rot, woodworm, and damp.

Your surveyor will also provide a property valuation.

Home condition survey (£450+)

This survey is an equivalent option to a homebuyer report, provided by surveyors from a different governing body. It doesn’t typically include a property valuation.

Building survey (£600+)

A more detailed option is a building survey.

Not only does this option look at all of the areas inspected in a homebuyer survey, but it will also provide advice on your options for repairs and maintenance, along with the associated costs. So, if you’re buying an older property that’s likely to need a lot of maintenance, you’ll know exactly what that entails.

Choosing the right survey

When you’re choosing between surveys, cost shouldn’t be your main concern. Instead, consider the type of property that you’re buying and how likely it is to have issues. Remember that it could cost you far more, in the long run, to buy a property with undiscovered problems.

Older properties, larger properties, listed properties, and unique properties could all need a higher level of inspection, while modern, conventional homes will likely require less attention. Although it’s recommended by property experts, only around 20% of home buyers decide to get a private survey.

This could be a big mistake as you could end up paying too much for the property, and face huge costs in the future repairing defects that you weren’t aware of before you bought the house. A survey is a small investment that can involve huge benefits when you’re making one of the biggest purchases of your life, choosing not to get a survey just isn’t worth the risk.

All Rights Reserved. Information contained in this article and on our website does not constitute advice and is provided for information purposes only. Recipients should not act upon it, but should seek professional advice relevant to their own situation.