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It’s easy to view property surveys as just another expense in the process of buying or selling a house. In reality, they’re often invaluable, and could even end up saving you money in the long run. Read on to learn about the different types of property survey available and why they’re so important.

Why do I need a property survey?

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, you’re presumably keen for the deal to go through. Unfortunately, this is far from a foregone conclusion. 

According to research from Which?, more than one in four buyers has had an offer on a property accepted, only for the purchase to collapse. Of these, 15% fell apart because the buyer decided they didn’t like the property enough to buy it after all. A thorough survey, alongside an honest discussion between the buying and selling parties about any issues raised, could go a long way to cutting down on the number of sales that fall through.

Advantages for buyers

Forgoing a survey might seem like an obvious way for buyers to cut costs, but it may not have the desired effect. 

A landmark study from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) discovered that a fifth of buyers who didn’t commission a survey later uncovered issues with their new home. Remedial works cost an average of £5,750 to fix, while one in six had to shell out more than £12,000 in order to make their property habitable. 

RICS warns that failing to commission a survey creates a “home-buying time bomb”, in which the new owners are left with a property they can’t afford to fix and are unable to sell.

Advantages for sellers

For sellers, the argument for commissioning a survey can be less clear-cut. After all, you’re trying to sell the house, so why would you take the time – and expense – to identify a list of problems that you might then have to fix.

The simplest answer is: it gives you the best possible chance of the sale going through. If a problem is identified down the line by a buyer’s surveyor, they could be spooked out of completing the deal. If you’ve already commissioned a survey, noticed the issue, and discussed it with the potential buyer, there’s far less chance of them pulling out later.

We understand that avoiding unexpected expenses is a priority for many sellers. For clarity on all the things you may have to pay for, read our article: “The Cost of Selling a House: Everything you Need to Know.”

What property survey options do I have, and what do they look for?

As with many facets of buying and selling property, there are numerous survey options available. Navigating the market can be confusing, and it can be tempting to opt for the cheapest solution. But – as we’ve already explained – attempting to save money on a survey may lead to far more expense in the long term. 

Read on for an explanation of the different types of survey available, or use our free online tool to receive quotes from surveyors in your area based on your requirements.

RICS Condition Report


  • Expect to pay: £250
  • Suitable for: New-builds and conventional properties in good condition


This is the cheapest survey type. As the name suggests, it outlines the property’s condition, flags up potential risks and legal issues, and highlights urgent problems. However, it’s important to note that it won’t provide any advice or a valuation of the property.

RICS HomeBuyer Report


  • Expect to pay: From £400 upward
  • Suitable for: Conventional properties in decent condition


Although it doesn’t look below floorboards or behind walls, this survey will identify key structural issues such as subsidence or damp, along with a wealth of other potential problems. 

Sometimes a valuation will be included as part of the survey. If a valuation is included and produces a result lower than the mortgage lender’s valuation, the buyer may seek to lower their offer. If a valuation is excluded, the estimated cost of repairs may also be used by the buyer to offer a reduced price.

RICS Building Survey


  • Expect to pay: £400-500
  • Suitable for: Larger or older properties, or if the buyer is planning major redevelopment


This survey provides in-depth analysis of the property’s condition, incorporating any issues that exist and offering advice on how to overcome them. In the case of common problems, you’ll be given a detailed advice sheet detailing maintenance and possible repair options. Additionally, the surveyor will outline the potential consequences of failing to resolve any of the issues identified.

Building or full structural survey


  • Expect to pay: From £600 upward
  • Suitable for: All residential properties, but particularly older homes and those that may require repairs


This is the most comprehensive survey option. Again, it won’t look behind walls or beneath floorboards, but it should include the surveyor’s opinion on the potential existence of hidden defects. They should also provide options for repairing the issues identified by the survey. However, this survey type generally doesn’t include a valuation.

New-build snagging survey

Expect to pay: From £300 upward, depending on property size

Suitable for: New-build properties

Carried out independently of the property developer, this survey will inspect for problems with newly built homes. The developer should then fix the issues highlighted before the buyer moves in.

Mortgage valuation survey

Expect to pay: From £300 upward, depending on property size and value

Suitable for: Getting a mortgage approved!

The only purpose here is for the lender to be satisfied that the property in question is worth the amount they are lending. As such, it won’t point out required repairs or highlight structural issues. Some mortgage valuation surveys don’t involve a surveyor entering the property; they may be performed from the roadside, or even remotely.

Are there any other options for valuing my property before I sell?

As the seller, it’s obviously in your interest to get a solid understanding of how much your house is worth – and to do it as early as possible. After all, it has a huge impact on the sort of property you’ll be able to buy. At Chancellors, we offer two free and convenient options to value your home:

  • Our instant Online Valuation tool provides an immediate estimate of what your property is worth, based on the average house price in your area. 
  • Our free Market Appraisal service sees one of our experts visit your property to give a detailed valuation based on its condition, the neighbourhood in which you live, and the price of similar houses for sale in the area.

How Much is Your Property Worth?

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Correct at time of publication (23rd August 2019). The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chancellors Group of Estate Agents Ltd or its subsidiaries. References to legislation, best practice and other matters with legal implications such as fees, rules and processes are included for information and editorial purposes only and are not authoritative, nor should they be interpreted as advice. When in doubt you should only take advice from an industry professional or solicitor where appropriate. E&OE.