House surveys: What are they and which ones do you need?

Discover what type of house survey is most suitable for your property purchase.

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A house survey is a professional assessment of a property, completed by a chartered surveyor to identify structural issues.

After the survey has been completed, you’ll be informed of structural problems and any repairs that need completing.

This information can be used to help you negotiate your offer on a property or convince you to abandon the purchase altogether. Perhaps more importantly, it can give you the peace of mind of knowing that major repairs are unlikely to be needed in the near future.

As such, it’s recommended to invest in a house survey before you exchange contracts on a new property.

There are three levels of house survey. Below, we explore these levels and suggest which would be most appropriate for your choice of property.

Property valuation vs house survey

Your mortgage lender will make it compulsory for you to purchase a property valuation, even if you also arrange a house survey.

This is because it needs assurance that your property is worth as much as your mortgage loan.

Still, a property valuation is far less comprehensive than a house survey. You’ll learn the market value of your property, but little about its condition.

The three types of house survey

When you purchase a house survey, make sure it’s completed by a surveyor who is accredited by RICS or RPSA. The services offered by a surveyor will have different names depending on their accrediting body, but they generally fall under the following three categories.

  • Condition report. This is the cheapest and most basic form of house survey. You’ll gain a basic overview of the property’s condition, including the identification of any huge defects. It’s fine to purchase this survey if the property is relatively new and appears to be in good condition.
  • Homebuyer report. This survey offers a more detailed report about the condition of the property. You’ll learn about a bigger range of potential issues such as damp and subsidence. You’ll be given a more in-depth list of potential repairs that could be made. Many reports will include a property valuation and an indication of its rebuild value. This is the most popular choice among homebuyers and is recommended for properties in reasonable condition. The RPSA version of this survey is called a “Home Condition Survey”.
  • Building survey. This is the most in-depth and most expensive survey. It will include an intrusive inspection of the property, meaning the surveyor will look behind furniture and under floorboards. If you’re buying a property that’s 50+ years old or you’re planning on renovating it, this survey is recommended for you.

How much does a house survey cost?

The cost of a house survey will depend on the size of your property as well as on the level of survey you choose.

For a property worth between £100,000 and £250,000, you can expect to pay roughly the following:

  • £500 for a condition report
  • £600 for a homebuyer report
  • £750 for a building survey

What is a snagging survey?

A snagging survey is a basic inspection of a new-build property. You’ll learn about major structural defects and any cosmetic errors made by the house builders. It typically costs between £300 and £600.

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