How does a homebuyer survey work?

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A homebuyer survey is just an inspection of a house in simple terms. However, there are various questions that arise when it comes to the topic like what the survey includes and the types of different surveys there are.

There are also good reasons for having a homebuyer survey compared to any other type of survey so you should also be aware of which one you actually need.

In this article, all will be revealed including the costs associated with all the types of homebuyer surveys and how this relates to mortgages and different types of proeprty like unencumbered ones.

Arrange an RICS approved homebuyer survey

We partner with Cozee, estate agents who are able to entirely outsource the buying process, You can check out what they have for sale already below. Or, check out Cozee’s pricing page where they will be able to guide you through the management of a home including arranging for a surveyor to complete an RICS-approved homebuyer survey.

Looking for homes for sale with a survey?

We partner with Cozee who list premium property for sale that are approved by a surveyor. Check out their listings below.

What is the cost of a homebuyer survey?

If you’re thinking about buying a house, you’re probably wondering how much a survey costs. The answer is that it depends. 

The cost of your survey will be determined by three major factors: the type of survey you select, the value of the property, and the location of the property.

Assume you’re purchasing a £200,000 house and want a RICS Home Survey Level 1, which is the most basic type of survey. In this case, you could be looking at around £400. 

However, if you are purchasing a £1 million home and require a full structural survey, also known as a RICS Home Survey Level 3, you may end up paying more than £1,500.

As you can see, the cost of a survey can vary greatly depending on your specific situation. It is critical to select the appropriate type of survey for your needs and to ensure that you are getting good value for your money. 

You can get a clear picture of the condition of the property you’re interested in with the help of a qualified surveyor, and make an informed decision about whether it’s the right investment for you.

Struggling to find a get a homebuyers survey?

If you are looking for a quick sale without having to go through the process of doing a homebuyers survey, see above.

What exactly is a house survey?

If you’re considering purchasing a home, it’s critical to be aware of any potential issues before making a commitment and this is where a home survey comes in. 

A qualified surveyor will thoroughly examine the property and identify any potential problems during this type of inspection and this has the advantage that it can reveal issues that are not immediately visible to the untrained eye. 

If someone tries to conduct a survey themself and they aren’t qualified to do so, this could result in them missing things like structural issues, plumbing or electrical problems, or something as simple as a leaking roof. 

Knowing about these issues ahead of time could save you a lot of money and trouble later on because usually things like this are only discovered after there is significant damage done to a property.

It is critical to be aware of this if you are considering purchasing a home because a home survey is a necessary step in the home-buying process that can assist you in making an informed decision and something a lot of people don’t tend to take seriously. 

By identifying any potential issues, you’ll be better prepared to negotiate a fair price by scheduling repairs in advance and ensuring that the property is a good long-term investment that doesn’t have faults or issues.

What is included in a homebuyer survey?

If you’re thinking about buying a house, make sure you understand what you’re getting into. That’s where a Homebuyer Survey comes in and it should list all of the things included.

Some homebuyer surveys performed by a qualified surveyor will examine the property from top to bottom to identify any potential problems whereas others are less detailed.

The surveyor will inspect all of the major indoor and outdoor features of the property, from the roof to the walls to the pipes and gutters all during the survey. 

As well as this, they will also assess the heating, drainage, electric, gas/oil, and water systems and provide an energy efficiency rating. The surveyor will point out any serious structural issues or damp issues, as well as checking for pests in the organic matter of the property like the wood and check for rot too.

After the survey is completed, you will receive a report outlining any major flaws or defects that may affect the property’s value which is useful if you’re looking to make improvements  to your home. 

These will be rated using a traffic light coding system, with green indicating that no action is required, amber indicating that repairs are required but not urgently, and red indicating that serious issues require immediate attention.

The report will also advise you on how to resolve any issues, as well as outline the location of the property and any areas where you may need to seek legal advice.

For instance, if you bought a property at auction, you may not be aware of the exact rules around the boundaries of the property and where you can and cannot build. As a result you may need to hire a solicitor to find out.

If you choose a homebuyer report with a valuation, you will also get an estimate of the property’s value as well as a reinstatement value for insurance purposes.

All of this information will assist you in making an informed decision on whether to proceed with the purchase and how much to offer.

cost of homebuyers survey

Are homebuyer surveys legal requirements?

A house survey is not required when buying a home, but it is highly recommended, except for newly built homes which usually take the form of help to buy properties and come with a 10-year warranty from the developer.

Although you may be concerned about the cost of the survey, it is worth noting that the benefits far outweigh the costs. The survey can give you peace of mind that your dream home is in good condition or prevent you from buying a property with hidden flaws.

It can also save you money in the long run, especially if you have an older home like this one.

What are the different forms of a homebuyer survey?

When looking to buy a home, it’s critical to get a homebuyer survey to assess the property’s condition. There are four types of surveys from which to choose. 

These surveys are not the same as party wall surveyors or quantity surveys, but they can often be conducted by the same people. Don’t be concerned if you see these terms on the surveyor’s website.

RICS condition report

The Condition report is the most fundamental type of survey that can be performed on a property and is ideal for new construction or well-maintained homes. 

It is called the RICS condition report because someone from the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) has to be the one who conducts the report and signs it off.

A traffic light system is used in this type of survey to indicate any risks, potential issues, or urgent defects that need to be addressed much like other types of reports. 

However, it does not provide advice or valuation on the property, but it is still one of the most common types of surveys in Kent, Surrey, Central London, and much of the South East because it provides a more detailed insight into the property’s condition than a mortgage valuation report while being less expensive than a full building survey.

This means it is a great choice for a middle ground between the most extensive and expensive surveys and the least thorough. There still has to be some level of detail in the report as the survey is conducted by someone from the RICS.

RICS condition survey report

RICS homebuyer report

The homebuyers report as opposed to the condition report done by the RICS, is a more detailed survey that can identify structural issues like subsidence and dampness, as well as other issues both inside and outside the home. 

It is appropriate for larger or older properties, or if you intend to do a lot of work and also includes cost estimates for repairs and, if necessary, a valuation. 

This is ideal for those looking to purchase an older home such as a Victorian style property who wants to make sure everything is up to date and you can live in the property safely.

Building structural survey

The survey is similar to a thorough inspection, but it employs a simple 1-2-3 rating system to assist you in identifying the most pressing areas of concern. The report also highlights flaws, repair and maintenance options, and potential issues if the work is not completed.

Full structural survey

A complete survey is the most complete type of survey because it is suited to homes that are more dated and need more expensive and extensive repairs. As a result, the survey is more extensive to match and a search includes looking at the floorboards,

Snagging survey

A snagging survey is slightly different to any other type of survey as it is done after the property is built and is solely in place for new build properties. In addition, the survey only looks at the obvious faults and things that are going wrong.

Other surveys go more in depth because they are done on homes that are older and are likely to run into issues whereas a snagging survey goes over the issues specific to newer homes.

For instance, the wiring in a house being completely wrong and certain light switches not working.

A survey for mortgage valuation 

Whenever you conduct a survey for a house mortgage valuation survey, you may find that they are not like the others. Essentially, this survey is only requested by mortgage companies and focuses on the price paid for the property. 

It is not intended to identify any repairs or structural problems with the property, only its value. Depending on the lender, this survey may be included in the package for free or may cost between £150 and £1500.

Is a mortgage valuation the same as the new surveys?

These surveys are completely different mainly as there is no point in a mortgage provider like a lender or bank being the ones to find out if there are menial flaws in a home as a lender is concerned with you paying off the loan primarily.

Especially when it comes to investment property such as those bought with buy to let mortgages because they are only primarily concerned with the base structure of the property and then the significant things in a home that give it value.

Making sure gas safety is good and also that a homeowner says there are the same amount of bedrooms in the property as the owner said there is is important.

Not only will the lender want to make sure there is the right rental yield and income based on the information they find in the survey but they also want to make sure the property will remain intact.


mortgage valluation survey

If your survey finds any issues, what should you do?

When purchasing an older home, it is almost certain that a surveyor’s report will reveal some flaws. But don’t worry, you can accompany the surveyor during the inspection and ask questions if you have any. 

If you are unable to attend in person, you can always contact the surveyor ahead of time to express any specific concerns you have about the property, or to ask questions about anything the report did not cover. 

Keep in mind that you are paying for their expertise, so don’t be afraid to speak up. Getting the right residential property valuation is vital and can cost you a lot of money when buying a home if not.

When purchasing an older home, it is almost certain that a surveyor’s report will reveal some flaws. But don’t worry, once you have the surveyor’s report, there are a few things you should look into further. 

These include electrical installation, roof, central heating system, damp, timber, and any structural issues that may necessitate the assistance of a structural engineer.

Finding out if any of the issues are still covered by a guarantee, asking the surveyor how much it will cost to fix any problems, and getting a quote from a builder for more major work are the next steps. 

You can use these estimates to renegotiate the price or even request that the seller fix the problems before closing the deal. Just keep in mind that it’s not just about the cost, but also about the potential disruption caused by the repairs.

And if it all seems too much, don’t worry as you can still walk away because you haven’t committed to the purchase yet. Remember that this is about your future home, so take the time to thoroughly investigate any potential issues.

To reduce your risk further, check out our article on the questions you should ask when buying a house

Who pays to fix issues?

If we assume you’re thinking about buying a house and have had a survey done on it, you’d need to look at if the survey reveals any issues with the property, it may be worthwhile to consider how you can use this information to your advantage. 

For example, if a damp problem will cost a significant amount of money to repair, you could try negotiating with the seller to either fix it before you buy or reduce the sale price by that amount by following these guidelines

On the other hand, if you are dissatisfied with the situation, you may decide not to purchase the property at all because the costs or repair could be too much to justify fixing the issue based on the valuation of the house.

It’s also worth noting that your conveyancing solicitor will have a copy of the survey so it’s a good idea to talk to them first if you have any concerns or questions about what to do next. 

They’ve handled numerous property transactions and can offer you professional advice on what to do next and can even formally propose to the seller’s solicitor the next steps, such as requesting repairs or a lower sale price.

a survey being paid to fix issues

All in all, is a house survey worth the money?

Overall, there is a good chance that a house survey is worth it but it very much depends on the individual’s situation and what type of survey is taking place.

For example, if someone needs a survey done to find out what repairs are needed for their new build property, doing a mortgage survey valuation is not going to be the right survey for them.

In this case, looking at a snagging inspection or snagging survey provided by their developer would be the correct choice. 

So, read this article in detail and pay attention to all the different types of surveys there are before you make a decision. They’re not always necessary nor are they always useful when used incorrectly.

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Donnell Bailey

Property expert

Donnell is a property expert focusing on the property market, he looks at a combination of legislation, information from property managers, letting agents and market trends to produce information to help landlords.


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