Which Survey Do I Need? A Guide to Homebuyer’s Surveys

Which Survey Do I Need? A Guide to Homebuyer’s Surveys

A home survey is the best way to tell what sort of condition your home is in before you finalise purchase of your new home.

A qualified surveyor will undertake various checks to the interior and exterior of your home to discover any faults that need urgent repair.

Do I really need one?

It depends on the age of your house.

It’s not essential from a legal point of view, so you’re at liberty to skip this expense.

However, wisdom dictates that when you’re making a huge investment, you need to do your due diligence. Would you be happy buying a ten-year-old car that had no service history or MOTs?

We know you’re busy preparing your house move, so we’ve brought you this quick guide to surveys to equip you with the knowledge to decide which survey might be best – however, we’re not surveyors here, so we recommend you contact the relevant surveying bodies (at the end) to find a trustworthy surveyor and discuss your unique requirements.


A mortgage valuation is requested by a building society, bank or other lenders to ascertain the value of your home. If the asking price is too high for the condition of the house, then they won’t agree to lend you the entire asking price.

The problem is that a lot of home buyers believe a mortgage valuation is enough – it’s not. It’s a very basic check and the surveyor can carry out the checks off-site.

For: Any home buyer, requested by the mortgage lender, payable by you.

Cost: £150-1,500

What’s covered?

Not a lot – This doesn’t really go into the condition of the house itself. A surveyor may use online resources to produce a report. In fact, in-person visits are less common.


A snagging survey tends to be for new-builds and looks at structural issues and any small aesthetic problems that might still need looking into by the developer.

For: Brand-new homes

Cost: £300-600

What’s covered?

Small aesthetic problems and structural problems on houses that have just been built.


The condition report is a once-over for a house that’s not too old – ten years or newer. It will review the any potential issues using a red, amber, green system, but it doesn’t go overboard on detail. It will flag anything with the roof, interior, exterior and boundaries, and is non-intrusive. It will give an indication of potential legal issues or major structural problems, like subsidence.

For: Relatively new homes, but not new-builds.

Cost: £400-900

What’s covered?

A review of the roof, inside the home, the external walls and shared areas.


A Homebuyer report is carried out by RICS surveyors and goes into more detail about the condition of the property, and in addition to the condition report, it will review the damp proofing, drainage and timber and will also look out for signs of rot. The surveyor will not interrupt anything within the property for signs of damage. You can also opt to get a valuation done at the same time, which tells you how much the property is worth, plus an insurance reinstatement value if the building were to become irreparably damaged and needed replacing entirely.

For: Homes under 50 years old

Cost: £450-1000

What’s covered?

More detail than the level 1 report, including damp proofing, timber, woodworm and rot. It will also look out for Japanese Knotweed that can pose a danger to the structural integrity of the property.


The Home Condition Survey is an alternative to the Homebuyer Report. It’s carried out by a different surveying body called RPSA. Their reports are easy to understand and they also offer photographic evidence of their inspection and any faults picked up. They’ll check the Broadband speed of the area and point out legal questions for your conveyancer look into. The valuation or insurance reinstatement value is not part of this survey.

For: Homes under 50 years old

Cost: £450-1000

What’s covered?

Everything in the HomeBuyer’s report minus the valuation.


The Building Survey is the most advanced survey you can get for checking all the structural components of the house. The surveyor will get their hands dirty checking the garage, loft, basement, the condition of the walls and floorboards. Where the level 2 survey is a visual inspection only, the level 3 survey will look out for areas you can’t see very easily. They’ll check drainage and heating as well as inspecting the quality of the building materials. Most importantly, it takes into consideration what might need to happen in the future and what costs that will entail. This means you’re aware of what you’re getting into that might cause financial strain down the line. The surveyor will give details of problems that could reduce the value of the property. You can request a full valuation, but this is not assumed.

For: Houses over 50 years old or a building in bad condition.

Cost: £500-2000

What’s covered?

A full, detailed report following a thorough inspection. As well as urgent issues, it points out any future issues to be aware of and provides costs. This is a hands-on inspection, not only a visual one.

How much money can a survey save me?

80% of new home buyers don’t actually take out their own survey and this ends up costing the average homeowner £3,000 in unforeseen repair bills.

In fact, failure to get the right survey ended up costing one new homeowner £30,000.

If you can save yourself heartache and debt by paying as little as £400, you can avoid paying thousands. And if nothing else, it just puts you in the driving seat of your future home finances.

A word of caution: mortgage lenders may suggest you use a partner surveyor firm, but be sure to do your own research and get a few quotes so you’re getting the most impartial information.

Where can I find reputable surveyors to carry out my home survey?

You can search for RICS surveyors at www.ricsfirms.com and request an RPSA surveyor by emailing: info@rpsa.org.uk.

For more information, visit:

HomeOwners Alliance 




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