Buying a house House surveys explained
It’s important that you get a house survey done once your offer has been accepted. Here, we explain house survey costs, the differences between a HomeBuyer’s report, building survey and condition report, and what the best type of survey might be for the property you’re buying.
House surveys will help you find out about the condition of the building and, if there are problems, give you a powerful bargaining chip for negotiating the buying price down or asking the seller to fix the problems.
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Types of house survey
Most surveyors provide three types of survey: a condition report, a HomeBuyer’s report and a building survey. While the HomeBuyer’s report tends to be the most popular, there are no hard and fast rules about the type of survey you should get.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) provides a basic template for each of these surveys, and most surveyors who are registered with Rics will adapt the templates to fit their own style.
Surveyors registered with the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA), which is an alternative to Rics, use a different type of survey called the ‘Sava home condition survey’. It's very similar to the Rics HomeBuyer’s Report, and you can download an example survey by clicking the link in the table below.
|Different types of house survey|
|Survey type||What does it include?||When is it suitable?|
Mortgage valuation reports are usually requested by the lender before they make a formal mortgage offer.
|Rics condition report||Suitable if you’re buying a relatively new property with no previous issues, and just want some reassurance that everything is OK.|
|Rics HomeBuyer's report|
The most popular type of survey, and the standard choice for most properties that are in a reasonable condition.
If you’re buying an unusual or period property, or one that requires significant renovation, it’s best to upgrade to a building survey.
|Sava home condition survey||Suitable for most types of property (as with the Rics HomeBuyer’s Report).|
|Rics building survey|
A good option if you’re buying a property that's over 50 years old or in a poor condition.
Also worthwhile if you’re planning to do significant work or have major concerns about a property.
Usually only undertaken on houses, not flats.
|New-build snagging survey|
Anyone buying a new-build home should have a professional snagging survey done.
Check out our full guide to snagging surveys.
House survey costs
The cost of your survey will vary significantly depending on the location, size and type of property. Different surveyors will also charge varying amounts, so make sure you get a few quotes before choosing who to use. Mortgage valuation costs tend to vary the most, with some lenders even including them for free.
The figures below give a rough idea of what you might pay.
|Estimated survey costs|
Value of property
|Up to £99,000||£100,000 - £249,000||£250,000 - £349,000||£350,000 - £499,000||£500,000+|
Understanding your house survey
House surveys are often complicated, and it can be difficult to get your head around some of the jargon.
The diagram below from Rics shows the names of different parts of a building to help you decode your survey report.
Do I really need a survey?
At a time when you’re already spending a lot of money, a survey can seem like a big expense. However, it’s far better to be aware of any issues before you buy a house so that you can make an informed decision about how much you’re willing to pay for it and, if necessary, budget for any repair work that will need doing.
You may also be able to use the information in the survey to negotiate with the vendor. For example, if your survey finds that you will need to undertake repairs costing £10,000 you could ask for a £10,000 reduction in price, or alternatively ask the seller to make the necessary repairs before you exchange contracts.
- Buying and selling a property - our hub contains all the information you’ll need
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