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What is a Property Survey?

A property survey is an inspection of a property’s condition performed by qualified surveyors to highlight any potential issues for their client, often a prospective buyer. The resulting report outlines any problems found, as well as the next steps to resolve them.

Typically, homebuyers will carry out a survey after an offer has been accepted by the seller.

Who is An Accredited Surveyor?

For surveyors, there are two  main accrediting bodies. RICS – The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Offers three levels of survey; Condition Report (level one), Homebuyer Report (level two), and Building Survey (level three).

 

RPSA – The Residential Property Surveyors Association offers two levels of survey; Home Condition Survey and a Building Survey.  In addition it offers a Buy to Let Survey.

 

Types of House Survey

Report Level What’s Covered Home Suitability Estimated Cost
Condition Report (Level One) A property’s condition, its risks, potential legal issues and urgent defects. New homes in good condition and standard properties. £400-£950
Homebuyer Report/Home Condition Report (Level Two) All if the above, plus advice on repairs and defects that may affect the property.

Additionally, a market valuation, and a cost for a rebuild of the property.

Standard properties in reasonable condition. £450-£1,000
Building Survey (Level Three) In-depth view at a property’s condition, defect and repair advice, maintenance advice. Suitable for larger or older property (50+ years), listed, renovation or unusual property and those in poor condition. £600-£1,500

 

Level One: RICS Condition Report

The most basic house survey provides a property overview but lacks great detail.

Most suitable for standard, new-build, or modern property, whilst only highlighting the most significant issues. This survey is preferable if the property in question immediately appears to be in order but offers peace of mind.

This report uses a traffic light denotation to indicate the levels of severity of any prevailing issues against predetermined criteria.

Level Two: RICS Homebuyer Report / SAVA Home Condition Survey

The most typically considered level of report or survey used, it encompasses all level one investigations with additional extras.

This level will highlight anything that might affect a property’s value and provide advice on repairs or potential maintenance.

The survey itself is non-intrusive, meaning that only surface-level issues will be identified. Notably, this level will provide information on visual damp and subsidence, as well as anything that isn’t up to regulation standard.

Importantly, the RICS Report will include a property market valuation, while the SAVA Survey does not.

Level Three: RICS Building Survey

Known as a full structural survey, this is the most thorough survey typically available, most suitable for properties that have a significant number of variables.

This survey is used to evaluate properties that are over 50 years old, atypical design, or are in poor condition. Moreover, it is worth considering this survey if you are planning major works, renovations, or have reservations about the condition of a property.

Additionally, this survey will go beyond surface-level observations, and a surveyor will thoroughly inspect a property – looking in wall cavities, under floorboards and in attics.

Your surveyor will provide a detailed list of defects and advise on repairs – including costs and timings.

RPSA Home Condition Survey

The Home Condition Survey (HCS) is a survey that is suitable for all property types as it includes a full inspection and a comprehensive report.

RPSA Building Survey

A Building Survey (often referred to as a Full or Structural Survey) is the highest level of non-invasive survey that surveyors usually carry out during the home-buying process. It is suitable for all properties but is often most applicable for older or more unusual properties, or properties where problems are suspected.

Buy-To-Let

The Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Bill, introduced in 2019, requires landlords to ensure their homes are fit for habitation at the beginning of a tenancy and throughout.

This survey considers how the construction and condition of the home affects the way tenants will live within it.

You get all the features of the Home Condition Survey, plus:

  • A review of the 29 potential hazard profiles listed under the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (used by local authorities to prosecute landlords in the Private Rented Sector).
  • A Decent & Safe Homes (DASH) report that highlights health and safety deficiencies
  • Cross-referencing of health and safety issues with relevant descriptions of property condition.
  • Compiled by a specialist residential surveyor who has undergone specific training.

Is a house survey important? Do you need one?

As the costs associated with buying a property can quickly stack up, it might feel like an unnecessary expense if a property feels like it is perfectly sound.

However, a survey can provide peace of mind, ensuring that your purchase is informed, reducing risk of future complications post completion. Importantly, if there’s any repair or maintenance required, your budget can be adjusted accordingly.

How can Chancellors assist with your house survey?

At Chancellors we have a dedicated team on hand to assist with your property purchase and the surveying process. Those looking for accredited surveyors can find one by contacting our team on 0330 4047 611.

Additionally, those looking for more information or advice for buying or selling property should visit our resource centre.

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Correct at time of publication (3rd November 2020). 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.

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