Understanding the three types of house survey

When you buy a property, one of the first questions you’ll have to ask yourself is what type of home survey you would prefer to have. There are essentially three types of house surveys and each offers something different. The surveys range from the basic homebuyer’s survey to a full building survey, and buyers tend to choose them according to their own preferences, plans and the expected condition of the property.

What are the different types of house surveys?

Level 1 RICs Home Survey

This is the basic entry-level survey and it provides an overview of the condition of the property via a traffic light rating. This flags up the property’s overall condition and any key issues, but it doesn’t provide any detail. It’s ideal for modern, standard properties in good condition where the buyer simply wants to check that everything is OK. You can find out more about this survey online and download example reports here:

Level 2 RICS Home Condition Survey

This is the usual choice for most homebuyers who are considering properties in reasonable condition and it’s a mid-level survey. It includes the areas above and adds in extras, such as any problems that might lower the property value, plus advice on ongoing maintenance and any necessary repairs. If there are issues such as subsidence or damp, the report will also flag these up, together with any works that aren’t in line with current building regulations.

It’s important to know that this isn’t an ‘intrusive’ inspection, however, and this means that the surveyor won’t look under floorboards or behind cupboards. This means that the surveyor can only see surface issues. The survey can be carried out whether or not the market valuation is in place. For a building survey in Oxford or elsewhere, a conveyancing expert such as Sam Conveyancing can assist in identifying a surveyor.

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Level 3 RICS Building Survey

This is the most thorough survey that you can buy and it’s a comprehensive assessment and report of the property’s structural status and overall condition. It’s a wise choice if you are looking at a property that is over 50 years old, in poor condition or of unusual design. It’s also a good choice if you have concerns about the property or are considering renovation work. The surveyor will carry out a hands-on assessment meaning that they will look under floorboards and check the loft. The report will include repairs and maintenance work and any defects. The surveyor can also include anticipated timings and costs for the repair work that is flagged up in the report.

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Which is the best type of home survey for me?

Most buyers choose the middle RICS survey, but there is no ‘right’ survey. If you are buying a new build, then you may be comfortable with the basic level survey. If you are buying a period property with plans to renovate, then you may prefer a full building survey to help cost and establish the scope of the project. The best survey for your needs will depend on the property, your plans for it and your attitude to risk.

How much do the surveys cost?

Survey costs are usually around £500 upwards, although their final cost will depend on the surveyor and the property size and value. It’s helpful to get a couple of quotes before deciding to go ahead and it’s also vital to ensure that your surveyor is suitably accredited. Your mortgage lender may also insist that you use their own approved surveyor as part of the mortgage approval process.