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What sort of survey should I have?

If you've had an offer accepted on a property, you'll be wondering whether you need a house survey and if so which one. We look at different types of house surveys, home survey costs and which type of home survey is right for your property, where to find a good surveyor and - most importantly - how to get the most out of your survey.

What is a survey?

A property or house survey is a detailed inspection of a property’s condition. The surveyor inspects the property and tells you if there are structural problems like unstable walls or subsidence. They will highlight any major repairs or alterations needed, such as fixing the roof or chimney chute. The report from the surveyor also provides expert commentary on the property, from the type of wall to the type of glazing.

Home buyers generally arrange to have a house survey done after their offer has been accepted by the seller. It is usually the buyer who arranges the survey and pays for the survey.

Our guide details the different types of surveys and their costs to help you decide which is best for your needs.

What is a mortgage valuation?

A mortgage valuation is not a survey – it is a cursory look at a property to assess how much the property is worth. It is required by your mortgage lender to ensure the property is sufficient security for the loan. Your lender will insist on using a company they trust and you will have to pay for it. The cost of a mortgage valuation varies depending on the size of the property (from around £350). Some lenders throw in free valuations as part of a mortgage deal; but don’t let that sway you.  A deal with a lower interest rate is likely to save you far more over time, even if you do have to pay a bit more for the mortgage valuation.

Who carries out a survey?

Property surveys should be carried out by qualified surveyors  Most qualified surveyors are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). A RICS qualified surveyor will have professional indemnity insurance.

If you can get a local surveyor, they are likely to have a better knowledge of market values in the area

Equally, if you are buying an unusual house, like a lighthouse or a castle, get a surveyor with experience in that specific field

Survey costs vary from company to company, and depend on the size and location of the property.

Instantly find and compare quotes from local qualified surveyors using our find a surveyor tool

Do I need to get a survey?

You do not need to get a survey done on the house you are buying. But a survey can help you avoid expensive and unwanted surprises, like an unexpected rewiring job, as well as giving you peace of mind by telling you that those hairline cracks don’t mean the house is falling down. Given the hundreds of thousands of pounds it costs to buy a property, a few hundred pounds on a survey to have the reassurance of an independent, expert surveyor looking over it feels like a good investment.

With the information from the survey you might reconsider whether to buy the property or use the unbiased information you have to renegotiate the price. If you find for example it needs £15,000 of roof repairs, it is reasonable to ask for £15,000 off the price. Alternatively, you might ask the seller to fix the problems before you buy.

We would particularly recommend a survey if:

  • you have any specific worries about any part of the property
  • you feel unsure about what sort of condition the property is in
  • you are looking to buy an old or unusual property
  • the property has a thatched roof or is timber framed
  • the building is listed

What sort of survey should I get?

There are a number of different types of survey. What you choose depends on the depth of survey you want and your budget.

Condition Report (survey level one – £300 or more)

A Condition Report is the most basic survey you can get, and the cheapest.  Costs are £300 or more.

The report doesn’t go into much detail so may leave you wanting more:

  • It is designed to complement the mortgage valuation
  • It provides ‘traffic light’ indications as to the state of various parts of the property. Green means everything is ok, orange is some cause for concern, and red means serious repairs are vital
  • It also provides you with a summary of the property’s defects and possible risks affecting the home
  • It does not include any advice nor a valuation

Homebuyers Report or Homebuyers survey (survey level two)

A Homebuyers Report, also called a Homebuyers survey is a more detailed survey and the most popular option according to RICS. There are two options in this category – you can choose to have a homebuyers survey with or without a valuation:

HomeBuyers Report or HomeBuyers Survey (survey only – £350 or more)  

  • A HomeBuyers Report (Homebuyers survey) will tell you any obvious major problems – obvious rot, subsidence, etc.
  • The cost of a HomeBuyers Report/ Homebuyers Survey starts at £350.
  • But, the surveyor is non-intrusive: they will not look behind furniture, nor lift up floor boards or drill any holes, so any report they draw up is limited.

HomeBuyers Report or HomeBuyers Survey (survey and valuation – £450 or more)

  • The HomeBuyers Report (Homebuyers survey) with valuation includes the detailed survey, plus a valuation and an insurance reinstatement value (how much you would receive were the building to burn down).
  • The cost of a Homebuyers Report (Homebuyers survey) with valuation is £450 or more.

Home Condition Survey (£400- £900)

Offered by the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA) rather than RICS, Home Condition Surveys are:

  • conducted by specialists in residential surveys and produced in a consistent, consumer friendly format
  • include practical information such as broadband speed, damp assessment and boundary issues for the conveyancer to consider
  • reports are independently checked to ensure consistency and quality
  • Home Condition Surveys cost between £400-£900 depending on value of property

Building Survey (survey level three – £500 or more)

Building surveys (by RICS surveyors) also called full structural surveys are more expensive, but can be a worthwhile investment:

  • The price of a building survey ranges from under £500 to about £2000 depending on the size of the home
  • Building surveys or full structural surveys are extensive surveys and you will be given a detailed report at the end
  • The surveyor will get into the attic, check behind walls, and look between floors and above ceilings
  • It includes advice on repairs, and provides estimated timings and costs, and will tell you what will happen if you do not do the repairs
  • Unless specified, it probably will not include an insurance reinstatement value estimate, or a market valuation.

Get instant quotes from chartered surveyors with our find a local surveyor tool

Survey costs by type of survey

Type of survey Estimated cost
RICS Condition Report (survey level one) £300 and upwards
RICS HomeBuyer Report/ HomeBuyer Survey (Survey only – survey level two) £350 and upwards
RICS HomeBuyer Report/ Homebuyer Survey (Survey and Valuation – survey level two) £450 and upwards
RICS Building Survey (survey level three) £500 and upwards
Home Condition Survey (offered by the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA) rather than RICS £450 and upwards
New-build snagging report £300-£600


See our guide on how much surveys cost in 2021 for more information on costs and why surveys can end up costing more.

Video – What type of survey

Do I need a survey for a new build property?

For new build properties, we recommend a professional snagging survey is carried out.  A snagging survey will identify defects or problems which need fixing before you move in. A professional snagging survey should spot minor issues like a door that’s misaligned and catching on the carpet to  something more serious that could affect the structure of your home. These typically cost between £300 and £600.

If the new build you are buying is built and ready, you would ideally carry out a snagging survey before exchange. If it’s off-plan then try to carry out the survey pre-completion when you will have more negotiating power to get any problems fixed. This is assuming the developer lets you on site, which often they do not, in which case get a snagging survey carried out as soon as possible after moving in.

Given the number of complaints and calls for help we get from visitors to our website, the HomeOwners Alliance is proud to have teamed up with one of the best known snagging inspectors in the UK, New Build Inspections. Unlike many other snagging companies, they never work for developers or builders so can retain their independence. Get a free, no obligation quote from new build inspectors here.

How do I find a good surveyor?

  • Going with the surveyor recommended by your bank, estate agent, mortgage lender or other property expert can end up costing you more.
  • Get quotes from a few local firms and compare.
  • We often hear complaints that survey reports come with so many caveats that it is difficult to know how to respond to them; ask if you can see copies of past reports – will that sort of report be useful for your situation?
  • Check your surveyor is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) – he or she will have the letters MRICS or FRICS after his or her name. The RICS ensures that all its members maintain professional standards in their work.

Instantly find and compare quotes from local surveyors using our find a surveyor tool

How can I get the most out of my survey?

  • When you appoint your surveyor tell them if there are any particular concerns you have about the property
  • Walk through the house with them – make sure they look at everything, move furniture and have a good poke around
  • Ask questions – point out things that worry you and ask about them. It’s your house so you should understand everything

 What to do if issues are flagged in your survey

If the property you want to buy has items flagged in the survey, do take a look at our guide What to do after a bad survey report”

Leave a comment (77)* Required

  1. Julie TeggJulie Tegg

    We are buying a new build on a small development the environmental search has identified a moderate to high risk of natural subsidence in the area. What sort of survey would you recommend as we are due to exchange in the next few weeks.

  2. Christopher PowellChristopher Powell

    We are buying a top floor flat in a 1977 purpose built block.The heating/water is covered in the management costs.The flat appears to be in good order,and the outside structure seems solid.We know the management company would sort out any issues with the roof.What survey,if any should we pay for.The property comes with a share of the freehold.

  3. Caroline.frostCaroline.frost

    My parents are buying an apartment in an extra care facility. It is 6 years old and the company cover building insurance etc. I have had an appliance check done and have a PAT certificate but wasn’t planning on a survey. Apparently mist pro ppl e don’t. Can you give me some advice on this?

  4. Simon DonneSimon Donne

    I have just had an offer accepted on a house that is 5 years old and has a 10 year warranty.
    Do you recommend having a survey and if so, what sort?

  5. PaulPaul

    What survey would you recommend on a newly renovated flat within a grade 2 listed building

  6. BimbolaBimbola

    When you get an inaccurate report from a survey what do u do. My flat is on the 3rd floor a council property. The Survour told the band is on a 5th Floor and has shared balcony is that enough excuse not to get Morgage. What do I do

  7. JoanneJoanne

    Our daughter is buying a 1 bedroom upstairs flat in an end of terrace house built between 1910 and 1920. The flat has changed hands a couple of times within the past 6/7 years, but we are informed that the downstairs flat has been owner occupied by the same person for the past 15 years approx. Would you recommend the homebuyer’s survey or a full RICS structural survey in this case – the estate agent has said that because it’s a flat, we wouldn’t get the benefit of a full structural survey due to access to the downstairs flat. What would your advice be?

  8. SteveSteve

    I am going through the process of applying for a mortgage to buy the Housing Association house I live in. I’m pretty on top of repairs but there is an ongoing issue with the central heating (combi boiler cuts out on a daily basis), every couple of months an engineer needs to come out and ‘fix’ it. And we have a problem with black mould which the HA are going through dealing with (they have fitted a tickle extractor in the bathroom) but their surveyor said they need to remove the skirting boards and cut a channel to stop black mould on exterior walls down stairs. Are these things that would come up in a buyer’s survey? Will HA’s negotiate the price when work is known to be needed?

  9. SallySally

    We had an extension but don’t have a Building Regulations Certificate. We submitted a Regularisation Form to the local council but have decided not to go ahead with the necessary works to secure a Certificate. Can we take out an Indemnity Policy on this extension when we come to sell?

  10. David SpencerDavid Spencer

    It’s the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors not Institute

  11. Aman. GAman. G

    Want to by a small flat in Manchester

  12. ErinErin

    We are buying a property that is 2 years old built by Taylor Wimpey. Is it necessary to have a survey at all given that the property will still be covered under the 10 year guarantee by the builders?

  13. SueSue

    We are buying a property dated 1830. The house is rendered with no obvious cracks inside or out and no damp etc. The owner has lived there 60 years with no recent decoration or refurbishment evident. What would be the advice on which survey to have on this age of property and where access over someone else’s property to access 2 sides of ours is required?

  14. BarbaraBarbara

    As cash buyers we have an offer accepted on a property which is 3 years old. The vendor is asking for 11th December as completion date as the person she is buying from has mortgage offer that expires on that date. We only made our offer last Wednesday so this would be very quick. Our conveyancing solicitor will be buying the previous searches made on our behalf. Our dilemma is whether to have a survey and risk the chain breaking. Also not sure what cover the remaining NHBC provides to us. Thank you in advance for any advice!

  15. Beverley ChadwickBeverley Chadwick

    I am considering buying a flat in an old mill. I do not need a mortgage. What type of survey do I need?

  16. sajimon alexsajimon alex

    Survey and valuation

  17. Marie BradleyMarie Bradley

    Hi,my husband and i are renovating a 3 bed bungalow. we are converting garage to a kitchen and also installing a new bathroom but we are not sure what type if survey we need. Could you please advise. many thanks

  18. SagsSags

    Hi, the above guidance suggests that a level 3 Building survey is extensive in that the surveyor would check behind walls, above ceilings, under floor boards etc however I have spoken to 2 companies who provided me a quote for a level 3 Building survey and both said they didnt cover this. They advised me to get a structural survey or contact an engineer to do this. The other thing to mention is the companies I spoke to dont allow the buyer to be present when the survey is being carried out by the surveyor as their insurance doesn’t cover it or due to Covid although the above advise suggests that you should ask the surveyor as he is doing his checks.

  19. wmcgaugiewmcgaugie

    You should always refer to RICS as Instituition not institute in your descriptions.

    WHMcGaugie FRICS

  20. DebraDebra

    I am in the process of buying a top floor flat in a block of 12 (3 floors in total), all of which are share of freehold. It was built in 1970.
    I definitely want to get a survey done, but I’m not sure whether to go for a homebuyers survey or to get a full structural survey? Is there any point getting full structural on a block of flats? Is there much more they can check compared to a homebuyers?
    Any advice would be appreciated!

  21. mcwilksmcwilks

    There is good info on lease but needs to include transfer of lease extension at purchase, the pitfalls and stringent timescales such as valuation required for the application.

    the lack of transparency of freeholder management costs prior to engaging with solicitors does not help retirement property purchasers with incurring high costs and perhaps sometimes deters buyers and increases the burden of sellers in not being able to sell as not all solicitors have the no deal no fee policy. How can costs justified with technological processes?

    people are capable of making decisions based on being given the correct info prior to engaging with solicitors.

  22. cheryl bridlecheryl bridle

    Good Afternoon,
    I am looking for a surveyor to give rent evaluation and buildings report on commercial premises in preparation for agreeing terms on lease renewal. Sincere apologies if this is not really in your remit but I would be most grateful if you could point me in the right direction. At the moment I am completely in the dark not having done this before. Many thanks.
    Cheryl Bridle

  23. Samantha MillsonSamantha Millson

    I recently purchased my first property at an auction. To enable me to get honest quotes from builders, do I need a Structural survey. The property needs a lot of work doing to it and not sure of the state of the outside walls.

  24. Ms CrowtherMs Crowther

    I am currently awaiting offer papers/valuation for a council house through the Right to Buy scheme. Who is liable for arranging and paying for a survey? The council or myself? I would like a thorough survey before deciding whether I would like to buy or not. Please advise. Thanks

    • HomeOwners AllianceHomeOwners Alliance

      Hello Ms Crowther – The Right to Buy website says the following ” You can also talk to a Right to Buy adviser who can provide information on taking those next steps. You should also get an independent survey from a qualified surveyor if you’ve not done so already”

      Also, the party that pays for the survey usually owns it. Double check with the Council what they have got in place but it is likely you would organise and pay for your own. You can get quotes using our website

  25. LauraLaura

    Hello, we are buying a 4 years old house, is it really necessary to go through a survey? If yes, which one would you recommend? Thanks in advance.

    • HomeOwners AllianceHomeOwners Alliance

      Hi Laura, have a read of our DIY survey guide as a starter. We’d always recommend that you have a professional survey done.


    We have had an offer accepted on a house which is approx. 8-9 years old we noticed a crack on part of the external rendering ,our solicitors have advised us that Groundsure puts the property in a Medium-High risk subsidence area.

    The builders of the house we are hoping to buy have almost completed some more housing virtually around the corner. The estate agent has told us that the crack has been identified and the builders are using a different material on the new houses. Are we being over cautious.

    • Sara HindSara Hind

      Hi Tom, have you had the survey done yet? I’d speak with your surveyor about your specific concern and ask them for advice. Best wishes, the HOA Team.

  27. AliceAlice

    We had a survey by Connells on a 9 year old house with wooden double glazed windows. They listed the window condition as ‘good’. On moving in we found that some are leaking to a point where the window sills are damaged and others are rotten on the outside. We have been quoted over £5000 to rectify (there are 27 windows). They have since reinspected and completely fobbed us off. Apparently the rot all happened within the 2 months between their survey and us moving in. Also, they couldn’t have know about the leaks as it wasn’t raining much last year… Even though the sills are stained and damaged from water!
    Their finding were just assumptions to wriggle out of responsibility rather than based on any facts or findings.
    So having paid for a full condition report survey and being told windows were in good order with only normal wear and tear we are facing a £5000 bill.

  28. Blair BatchelorBlair Batchelor

    My wife and I are looking at buying our first property, however we are split between two. One has a couple of category 3’s regarding damp and a section of render of the chimney stack being damaged on the home report, which i believe is of the single survey type. As we really like this one what survey would be best to determine cost of repairs etc?

    Also, after having an offer accepted, if we are unhappy with what the survey brings up and wish to remove our offer are there fees that need to be paid etc?


    • AKerrAKerr

      Hi Blair, if you have a survey but then decide not to proceed with the purchase and withdraw your offer, no there will not be fees to pay, except of course for the survey and any local searches or other work your conveyancing solicitor may have undertaken already on your behalf. On the survey, it is hard to advise without more detail. I would suggest using our tool here to find a few local surveyors to contact and discuss the matter with. The surveyors will be able to offer all survey types and can advise on which one will be best for your situation. I hope that’s helpful. Angela

  29. RhondaRhonda

    We are looking at buying a property (no mortgage)

    What type of survey would look at electrics and roof please and how much am I looking at

  30. CarolCarol

    Hi, we are buying a flat in a block of 6 flats, on the first floor. It’s a shared freehold and the building is 70’s era. Would we need to have a survey on this please?

    • Sara HindSara Hind

      Hi Carol, it’s not mandatory that you have a survey done, but it is risky not to. Have a read of the article – the same principles apply whether it’s a house or a flat that you’re buying.

  31. LucyLucy


    I am buying a ground floor flat in a terraced house. I have heard that getting a buildings report may be a waste of money, as to do the full checks they need access to all the rooms in the entire building, which obviously they wont have.

    Is this the case? Is there still a point in me having a homebuyers report as well as the valuation?

    • AKerrAKerr

      Hi Lucy, it’s personal choice really. I had a full building survey of the 2 bed, top floor leasehold flat I purchased. No they couldn’t see the other flats but they could look at my flat (and spotted some damp I didn’t know was there). The surveyor examined windows, doors, walls etc plus the roof and communal areas (which were a shared responsibility). It’s also a chance to ask questions of the surveyor if you’re worried about anything. I found it very re-assuring. In more recent house purchases I’ve also used the faults identified by my survey to negotiate a discount on the asking price. Why don’t you speak to a chartered surveyor about the different types of survey and whether worth it for your property. Ask for an example report so you can see if it would be helpful for you. Good luck! Angela

  32. janejane


    I’m buying a studio basement flat in a large converted house (seven flats in the building in total). I’ve spoken to different surveyors who have recommended different things with regards to homebuyers report vs. building survey). What would be best?

    Best Wishes,


    • AKerrAKerr

      Hi Jane. It’s personal choice. The homebuyers report is very light touch whereas a full buildings survey is more comprehensive. You can find a local surveyor using the Find a Surveyor tool on our site and speak to them. And remember you are paying for a service. We always recommend asking to visit the property at the same as your surveyor so they can talk you through any issues they identify. If the final report has any concerns or things you don’t understand you should also phone to discuss with your surveyor. Alternatively join the HomeOwners Alliance and we can help by being there at every point with expert advice. Angela

  33. Christine LinthwaiteChristine Linthwaite

    Hi, my son is in the process of buying his first property. The property has a loft conversion but as the vendors have no paper work the house is being classed as a two bedroom not three. What type of survey would you suggest ?


    • AKerrAKerr

      It’s common for older extensions and loft conversions not to have full paperwork – and this is often dealt with by way of indemnity insurance. Raise this with your conveyancer.
      In terms of survey, if the property is older has had some undocumented work, it’s worth having a full structural survey. You can find quotes for local surveyors on our website here:

  34. Keshav SorathiaKeshav Sorathia

    Very very useful and good I visited this site. I am sure most of my worries and question I had now are reduced. Thank you

  35. Marian VaughanMarian Vaughan

    I am hoping to purchase a barn conversion which was built in 1858 but newly renovated in 2014. What survey would you advise, if any. Many thanks.

    • AKerrAKerr

      Hi Marian, It’s a personal choice but I’d get a full buildings survey. It’s an older building and you want to know the renovations were done well. If you need any help at all or want to talk over your survey when you have it, consider joining us and our home helpline team are there every step of the way.
      HomeOwners Alliance Team

  36. Raymond BrookesRaymond Brookes




  37. Cheryl JonesCheryl Jones

    Buying my grandmothers house, do I have to have searches etc done or can it just be the valuation for the mortgage?

  38. m wallacem wallace

    Very helpful sight for first time buyers

  39. j calderonj calderon

    Section on which survey to have was very useful

  40. TRTR

    Please help.

    We are getting a new-build but at the same time my partner has been diagnosed with terminal cancer so I can’t chance, and don’t have the time to argue with, builders’ potential problems with our new home.

    Do we need to get a professional survey AND snagging survey done separately, and which of the 3 surveys above would be recommended? Do the builders HAVE to allow us at least the professional survey…? Because I read that they don’t always allow a snagger to come in. Does the survey have to be done afterward? Basically… for a new-build, does it matter if the survey and snagging is done pre- or post-completion (or even more importantly, pre- or post-exchange of contracts).

    Thanks in advance!

  41. R HilsonR Hilson

    Can some one please till me if windows are incluled in the survey I,e if they are double or single
    Thank you

  42. NatashaNatasha

    Please could someone tell me if there is a difference between a buildings survey and a structural survey. I am wanting to get as full a survey as possible for a victorian terrace (not interested in getting a homebuyers report).
    Thank you

  43. PaulPaul

    Richard Gibson, it depends on whether or not you are actually out of pocket as a result of the “defects”. If the issue NEEDS remedial work and can’t be left as it is and this was the case at the time of the survey in 2013 then you might have a case. If however there is no explicit need to carry out remedial works (as is often the case with longstanding movement) then the suveyor is probably not at fault.

    The Monitor, Cavity walls often have entry points, for example the top of the cavity visible within the roof void as do ceilings, for example under the insulation in the roof void. It is also common practice to drill holes for endoscopes, take up floorboards, unscrew panelling, dig trial holes to look at foundations, etc. if this is an additional extra service requested and paid for by the buyer and the permission of the vendor has been obtained beforehand.

    Finally, regarding the value of a survey, the RICS did a poll in 2013 which determined that, on average, homebuyers who didn’t have surveys versus those that did were finding £5750 worth of unexpected remedial works after they had bought the property.

  44. Richard GibsonRichard Gibson

    Hi, We had a full building survey carried out in March 2013 on our 1952 detached house. The survey came back stating that there were no issues with the roof and the surveyor inspected the loft space as part of it. I have now found that there has been some movement of the roof over a long period of time and the weight of the roof and pearling has rotated the 4″x2″ timbers that the trusses sit on, and there are cracks in the single skin wall that this sits on. This has been an issue before we bought the place because there are two wood wedges that have been inserted previously. Can you tell me how I can deal with this situation, and whether I should contact the surveyors or go through our house insurance?
    Many thanks,

    • Sophie KhanSophie Khan

      Dear Richard,

      Read over the report from your full building survey, however, I would think it is very likely to include disclaimers meaning it would be very difficult to claim against the surveyor. Best option would be to see what your insurers have to say.

      Hope it goes well.

      Kind regards,

      HomeOwners Alliance Team

  45. Saakib KhanSaakib Khan


    I am looking to buy a student accommodation flat for letting purposes and would think getting a surveyor to check all aspect and give me a verdict on the approximation of the flat value. Please assist me in letting me know things I must consider and try allocate me the perfect surveyor for the job.

    Thank You,

    Saakib Khan

  46. KimKim

    I am buying a purpose built flat which is a 3 storey block. I am buying the middle flat. It is leasehold and there is an annual service charge of £1300. Do I need an independent survey?
    It seems like it could be a waste of money to me, but at the same time I am listening to the other posts on this site and it’s making me nervous. Please help!!

  47. RalphRalph

    You can only ask, I have since spoke with a independent RICS surveyor and he said i quote “if you buy me a pint I’ll sit down with you and we can look at anything that gives you concern” he then said he would meet afterwards for lunch and talk me through documents. I would say not to go with a bank and give it to a independent surveyor, don’t get stung like I did for the sake of £400…It really isn’t worth it! That simple payment would have stopped me from making the biggest mistake of my life, It has pretty much ruined my life and will take me a lot of work to try and rectify it. Wishing for a housing boom now to at least get out a little less unharmed.

  48. JayneJayne

    This site and comments are so helpful – thank you. We have requested a full building survey on the property we are hoping to buy. The surveyor is being engaged through our mortgage company. My query is this… can I ask the surveyor to check on particular parts of the building? We would like to know that the patio doors (all along one wall) are sound and not drafty, that the single brick walls have been insulated on the interior as advised, the condition of the flat roof is good etc. Unsure what/if any say I might have prior to the survey starting. Any help appreciated. Many thanks.

  49. RalphRalph

    To Sue; Id still say, unless you are buying a house under a 10 year NHBC guarantee I would always opt for independent full structural survey, ALWAYS. Its honestly not worth the risk, there are plenty of independent companies who will complete a full report for you, some will even allow you to attend the survey with them if you are cheeky, they can point out issues to you. If I had simply just paid the extra 400 pounds for an independent report I could have saved myself and my family so much distress and worry as well as probably haggling 15k off the asking price, if I had even dared to buy it at all. Its so easy to make a turd glittery, especially if the seller is an experienced flipper! As I posted before just because you cannot see damp or rotten timbers does not mean anything at all, my seller I bought from had simply covered everything in timber framed dry lining finish and then skimmed without even using skrim tape, this became apparent as soon as we put the heating on. You are right “The monitor” No surveyor would have picked up on that but I am pretty sure they would have said, property has been drylined and I am unable to check behind plasterboard for signs of damp, that would have started alarm bells ringing for me. He would have also noted the asbestos roof and rotten timbers and fact that the fuse board had been replaced but no earth wires or bonding was attached, he would have also noted that the boiler was not vented and that the flat roofs were both coming towards the end of their lives, plus various other things that maybe I didn’t notice, the 6mm wire to the shower was the scariest!. Valuations which the banks perform are to so dangerous; for example, the property which was a 1940s semi detached was valued by Countrywide Surveyors at £110.000 with only one comment relating to the kitchen flat roof stating “Flat roofs have a 25 year lifespan and it may require changing eventually”. I part exchanged it for new build in the end which Barratts processed giving me a fair deal but I had to buy a very poor plot (very hasty in hindsight as I probably should have just tried fixing the money pit) but given the fact it needed at least 20k worth of renovation just off the top of my head and that was just for basic essentials boiler, electrics, roofs I gave up. It was resold for £85,000, the buyers bank then valued the property at £74,000 thus the buyer had to drop out. Not getting a survey is in my honest opinion completely stark raving mad and as I have said before I would hate for anyone to have to experience what myself and my family have endured. Its currently on rightmove as we speak for 89,995. All in I feel like I have just been scammed from start to finish and it would have all been avoided had I just shelled out 400-500 quid for an independent survey. Don’t be a Ralph…get a full survey!

  50. The MonitorThe Monitor

    Please explain how a Surveyor can “look behind walls” and “above ceilings”, without damaging the fabric of the property. To do so would mean that the Surveyor would be guilty of a charge of causing Criminal Damage.

  51. Sue VogelSue Vogel

    Have read all the posts here with great interest. This site is an excellent mine of information for all of us on this sometimes fraught journey.

    I have just bought, subject to contract so I am crossing my fingers, a ground floor flat in a three storey building, managed by a reputable housing association which also holds the lease. I have been told that the association is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the fabric of the building and for the insurance except for my own contents and third party injury insurance. I have no doubt that my solicitors will check that out.

    A friend and I walked around the outside of the property and examined it as closely as we could from ground level, including the guttering, and believe it to be in sound order. The inside of the flat itself has no signs of damp and the woodwork appears to be sound.

    These being the case, I’d welcome advice as to what sort of survey I should commission and most importantly when during this process it should take place. For various reasons on which I don’t care to elaborate (sorry!), I would not want to do it until I can have more of a “feel” that the purchase is likely to go through.

  52. allenallen

    Who puts a value on property 4 estate agents valued my sons house had 7 viewers 1st week 5 offers above value accepted one then survey said nothing wrong but thought it was over priced for area so a mortgage was denied back on market accepted another offer again above the price oh dear the same surveyer turns up the same thing happens again cant understand it as the property is regarded as great value by 4 estate agents

  53. SusanSusan

    I think that I may be I a similar situation to Ralph, my husband, and myself, are in the process of purchasing a flat which is leasehold. We have had a homebuyers survey carried out, which in parts could sound quite alarming. However, we are not qualified surveyors but believe that the surveyor may have been covering her back on certain issues. The similarity to Ralph, is in that we do need repairs to the roof, asbestos worries and old windows. We are having all of the radiators changed before we move in. I have now been advised to get a copy of the leasehold terms before exchange of contract. I am in a dilemma as to whether to continue with the purchase, these problems are weighing heavily upon me and causing me many sleepless nights!

  54. RalphRalph

    PLEASE ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS get a full survey, I do not care if the property looks amazing, I am one of the unlucky who was stung buy thinking I knew better and got a valuation, the result over 20,000 pounds worth of renovations required electrics, mould growth, damp, low water table, wet rot, rood leaking, timbers cut in loft, asbestos, lead water supply, leaking flat roofs, condensation issues, old windows, boiler issues. It was a complete disaster and resulted in my having severe depression and anxiety issues. This decision literally changed the course of my life and I would not wish it to happen to anyone else, Estate agents are no better than bankers, using smoke and mirror tactics to tell you how amazing the property is, foolishly I fell for it and lost out BIG TIME!!!

  55. metronomemetronome

    £600 survey not worth the paper it’s printed on, they’ll happily take your money and recommend you do £30k worth of work, but it won’t stand up in court if you need to rely on it… You’ll need “Expert Witness” costing £1,300… it’s amazing how many “Surveyors” will refuse to even often this as a service which shows they can’t be trusted on anything if they aren’t prepared to ever have their work scrutinised.

  56. Mac McCullyMac McCully

    Just be careful as even some RICS chartered surveyors tell lies. Just selling my house and first buyer had a survey done, my wife was in at the time and RCIS surveyor said there was woodworm, the roof needed replaced and the electric fuse box and wiring needed replaced. He also handily happened to have some numbers of people he knew who would do the work…. Buyer pulled out and we lost the sale. I then had an independent electrician and a roofer come in and inspect the house, result a single fuse needed replaced due to new regs and three tiles were replaced.

    Both the roofer and electrician were appalled at the remarks made by the supposedly expert surveyor.

  57. Alan WaltonAlan Walton

    Use a chartered building surveyor who is A member of RICS with An honours degree and the report will be far better and useful than many people out there calling themselves ‘surveyors’.

  58. Ian GibbIan Gibb

    “We recommend using a RICS qualified surveyor because they carry professional indemnity insurance”

    Independent surveyors such as our practice ALSO (in a lot of cases) have MORE qualifications along with more than appropriate levels of PI and PL insurance.

    Very poor comment that one!

  59. sallysally

    Had a valuation survey which I was charged by Bank £400 for. Different types of survey were not discussed in any detail, made a decision over phone. Do banks get a cut of the valuation fee ? (Surveyor told me on review of my complaint that they don’t receive the full amount ie Banks take a cut). That is a hidden fee if that is the case?. Report guidance notes not followed and specifications referred to in notes not dated. I have been advised that my complaint has been turned down as there have been appendix and update to the specs which contradict the report ie no longer check roof spaces (the basis for turning down my complaint.

  60. Roger HunterRoger Hunter

    Jas the difference between the surveys you mention above is £300, not £200 !

  61. Jas KlairJas Klair

    Little disappointed there was no mention of having a HomeBuyers report done through the Mortgage Lender.
    This is what we are doing. Works out cheaper. (But better??)
    Lenders compulsory survey is 195 pounds. But for 495 pounds (an extra 200 pounds) they will do the Home Buyers Survey.
    Not sure if I should let the Lender do it or go Independent?

  62. IvyIvy

    It’s always a gamble whether to pay for just the standard valuation, a homebuyers or a full survey. You might shell out quite a bit and find nothing wrong, and it would be easy to conclude you have wasted your money. On the other hand if you skimp by only going for the very minimal it could end up costing you a lot more in later in repair work on the house, that you hadn’t planned for…

    Really I suppose as you are buying a home, which will be a very important place, if the property is in anyway “high risk” or suspect it’s better to shell out at the start. Even if it comes to nothing you will at least have peace of mind.

  63. HallHall

    We are concerned because we are in the process of buying a brick bungalow which is timber framed inside. We don’t require a mortgage, so no lender will be surveying. However, if and when we try to suell up in the future, are there lenders who may refuse a mortgage to a buyer?

  64. Matt ReevesMatt Reeves

    If the property is 8/9 years old it may be worth doing the homebuyers survey. New builds have a 10 years NHBC Guarantee. and conducting the survey with a year left on the guarantee means you may get the most out of it, rather thn moving in, finding a problem after a year, by which point the warranty is expired

  65. RobertRobert

    Interesting article with useful info thanks. Can’t believe 80% don’t get a survey!

    I think it’s a gamble whenever somebody doesn’t – unless it’s a new build. I bought my house (built in 1992 – warranty expired) and had my drains checked. It saved me a pretty penny!

    Unless you have stronger nerves than me, I think it’s well worth it for the peace of mind.

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