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. 

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
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Brightchecker Report
(Fixtures Survey)

A fixtures report is:
Suitable for any property new or existing build. The check conducted covers  all fixtures within the structure of the property, e.g. lights, sockets, taps and other utilities etc. Highlights important problems that could affect the livability of the property. Provides an overview of the condition based on visual inspection and interacts with the property fixtures. 

For a full checklist of the checks provided by Brightchecker see below:


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We haven't covered the additional specialist surveys you can buy because there are so many of them. However, another important aspect which should be considered is an electrical safety certificate these are available from most competent and qualified electricians.