What Type of Home Survey Do You Need?

A survey is an assessment of the condition of a property. There are various types of homebuyers survey, such as standard, niche and specialist surveys. As a buyer considering a property, you can get any number of surveys conducted on what will eventually become your property (all being well). Of course, though if the property purchase falls through for whatever reason the money spent on surveys could be lost. You do have options such as Homebuyers insurance which covers your costs if a property transaction falls through due to certain circumstances.  

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland you would get a survey when you're a buyer considering a property. You can get a survey conducted by a surveyor accredited by RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) these usually come in a couple of levels and have varied levels of complexity and detail they go into. If for any reason you do not want a RICS survey you could check the property thoroughly yourself or with the help of a competent tradesperson. 

As with any professional body, the reports usually come with some more complex language however there is a handy diagram with arrows and definitions of what some of the descriptions of a property are referring to. It has a simple traffic lights system to tackle urgent issues and less urgent issues. The RICs surveys whichever level you go for, assess the structure of the property and looks to identify and diagnose issues with structural elements of the property. This is generally based on the surveyors opinion. 

"We inspect the inside and outside of the main building and all permanent outbuildings, but we do not force or open up the fabric. We also inspect the parts of the electricity, gas/oil, water, heating and drainage services that can be seen, but we do not test them"

The excerpt above is from one of their example condition reports.  So, there are some elements they do not cover. There are also other surveys provided by other surveyors accredited by other organisations such as the ABBE (Awarding Body of the Built Environment) where you can find general home condition surveyors, specialist damp, dry rot or knotweed surveys too. 

See below for the various options you have:

HomeBuyer Report
(Level 2 Survey)

A HomeBuyer Report is:
Suitable for modern, conventional properties in reasonable condition. As mentioned above it is written in a standard format set out by the RICS, providing ratings of each element of the property in a 'traffic light' system. Rates all permanent structures in the property, e.g. garages etc. Highlights important problems that could affect the property’s value. Provides an overview of the condition based on visual inspection - they will not manually test

Buildings Report
(Level 3 Survey)

A Buildings Report is:
Suitable for older, period properties in either poor condition or just be in a condition you might be concerned about. Rates all permanent structures in the property, e.g. garages etc. Highlights important problems that could affect the property’s value. Provides an overview of the condition based on visual inspection - they will not manually test however the inspection will cover more elements than a Homebuyers level 2 survey

Do it Yourself
(Visual Assessment)

A visual assessment is:
Suitable for any property new or existing build. The check should cover  all fixtures within the structure of the property, e.g. lights, sockets, taps and other utilities etc. you should be able to identify and highlight any that could affect the livability of the property. You can download any number of free pdf checklists or take a competent family member or tradesperson with you to a viewing to find issues

We've published a free pdf checklist which you can download below:


Download checklist

The checklist will allow you to check document the following areas:


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*our checklist is not an exhaustive list and it is not designed to be a replacement for a RICS survey but a complimentary free checklist you can execute yourself or with the help of a competent person. 

If you decide you do not want to fill out the survey manually we have created a electronic template within our property inspection software. You can use a free trial account for 14 days and you can produce one report free of charge. If you would like more credits you can have a subscription from as little as £5 per month. You can sign up here.