What Do Surveyors Look for During a House Survey?

Buying a house can be stressful at the best of the times, so it is important to get it right to keep the experience as stress-free as possible.

At Doorsteps, we are online estate agents committed to helping you achieve your property goals. Whether buying or selling, our team will always be fully transparent and guide you through every stage of the process. In this week’s blog, we will be looking at house surveys. We receive many questions on this topic, so please see below for a concise, handy guide.

What is a house survey?

A house survey is typically carried out when an offer has been accepted on a property, and whilst not a legal requirement, it is recommended. The survey will help highlight any structural issues the property may have.

The survey checks for issues such as subsidence, damage to the roof and signs of damp. In addition, details regarding the structural composition of the property will also be disclosed.

Whilst the selling party could organise a house survey, it is typically the buyers who book and pay for a survey once the offer has been accepted.

Do I need to get a house survey?

It is highly recommended, as without one, you could find yourself encountering a variety of surprises further down the line that cost you significantly more than a survey. Without a survey, you could find yourself uncovering things such as electrical faults or, in worst cases, issues like subsidence.

The information gained from the survey could determine whether you wish to proceed with the house purchase or not.

If any or all the following questions cross your mind, we would highly recommend a survey:

  • Are you worried about any particular areas of the property?
  • Is the property a listed building?
  • Does the property have a thatched roof?
  • Do you have any doubts about the overall condition of the property?

Who organises a survey when buying a house?

As mentioned earlier, the buying party usually organises the house survey. It is advisable to source a qualified surveyor, who is a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Search for one in your local area and be aware that costs may vary depending on the building type.

Choosing a local surveyor can be beneficial as they will have a greater understanding of the properties in that location.

What type of house surveys are there?

As house surveys are not a legal requirement, you can choose one that best suits your budget and choose the level of depth the survey goes in to. Newer build properties may be seen as more robust, free from damage and safer. On the other hand, older buildings may give potential buyers a few doubts. Whichever property type you plan to buy, for peace of mind, we recommend a survey no matter the age or structure.

RICS Home Survey Level 1

This is the entry-level survey and cheapest option. The surveyor will check that the property is built from common building materials and is in reasonable condition. Up until March 2021, this was known as the condition report.

The surveyor will assess the building and grade it with a traffic light system. Any issues are therefore classified as red, amber or green, with red being most urgent. The surveyor will also summarise any risks present to both building and occupants. This survey won’t report on issues in extensive detail, but will simply provide an overview of potential problems. This survey also won’t contain advice or valuations for any work required.

RICS Home Survey Level 2

This next stage up provides potential buyers with all the checks included in a level 1 survey, as well as roof spaces and cellars. In addition, the surveyor will recommend any further investigations required if they cannot reasonably suggest a solution themselves. They will also factor in any possible costs that repair work might entail, and any ongoing maintenance to keep up to date with.

The level 2 survey can come either with or without a valuation. If you do request a valuation, it will include the market value, a list of problems the surveyor believes may impact the value, and an insurance reinstatement value.

RPSA Home Survey

This survey is the equivalent of a RICS level 2 survey, but is carried out by the Residential Property Surveyors Association instead. Along with the information provided in a RICS level 2, you will also find information such as damp assessments and boundary issues.

RICS Home Survey Level 3

This survey provided by RICS is a full structural survey and is highly recommended when purchasing an older property (50+ years old), a property that has an unusual design, or one that is in poor condition. Additionally, if you are looking to complete renovations, this level of survey is recommended.

These surveys contain all the checks included in a level 2, but will also describe identifiable risks and causes of any potential hidden defects in areas that have not been inspected. A recommended timescale of any repairs will be provided, as will the potential outcomes of non-repair to areas of risk. To aid the prospective buyer, the recommendations will also be prioritised in order of severity.

RPSA Building Survey

This is the highest level of RPSA survey. You will be provided with everything from the RPSA home survey, plus much more detailed information regarding descriptions of construction and defects. It will also give guidance on how to fix any defects and the potential issues that may arise if you don’t.

How much does a home survey cost?

The cost depends on survey type. As a guide, you can expect to pay the following:

RICS Level 1: £300-£900

RICS Level 2: £400-£1000

RICS Level 3: £600-£1500

RPSA surveys: £400-£900

How long will a home survey take?

The length of survey will depend on the type you need, but as a guide you can expect the following:

RICS Level 1: up to 1 hour

RICS Level 2: up to 3 hours

RICS Level 3: up to a day

If you are looking to buy a new home, why not check out our vast database of properties for sale? It is updated frequently both on our website and on Rightmove and Zoopla. It’s easy to find your dream home with us! Simply contact our expert team today to get moving. We even offer online conveyancing to help things progress as smoothly as possible. We can’t wait to help you achieve your property goals.

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