What is a house survey?
Simply put, a home survey in a professional inspection of your prospective home’s condition. The main objective of a home survey is to identify any underlying issues and problems with a house before you decide to make the purchase. Home surveys are carried out by expert surveyors who visit the actual house and compile a report on any concerns that may affect you once you move in.
The surveyor comes in at the latter stages of buying a house; usually, after the buyer has made an offer, the seller finds acceptable. Generally, the surveyor will also advise you on the property, construction, and related environmental factors.
An effective survey can save you from making an unworthy purchase, as well as help you avoid making any costly mistakes, such as buying property that infringes on someone else’s land.
When sourcing for a qualified home surveyor, ensure they are registered by the accrediting bodies. These are:
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) – RICS surveyors are accredited to offer three varying levels of home surveys. These are the condition report, also known as a level one survey, homebuyer report, or level two surveys and building or level three surveys.
The Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA or Sava) – RPSA surveyors offer several survey solutions, including Sava Home Condition surveys, which resembles the RICS level one surveys.
Different types of home surveys
As seen above, there are various types of surveys, and each offers a different service and at varying costs. One of the factors to consider before getting a survey is the size and state of your property.
While you may be tempted to go with a more cost-effective survey, it may be less comprehensive, which, as mentioned, could hurt you in the future. Here’s a look at the different types of surveys to help you key in on the most appropriate.
1. Conditional report (Level one)
Level one home surveys are light on details and focus on verifying the mortgage valuation. While they are the most affordable on the list, they are most ideal for new properties that are still in their mint condition.
Conditional reports use the traffic light model to expound on the state of various parts in the house. Green means everything is okay with the property, amber means there aren’t any urgent issues, and red signals serious problems that need immediate addressing. While each service provider will charge differently, a level one survey will cost an upwards of £ 250.
2. Home condition survey/homebuyer report (Level two)
This is the most popular survey, according to RICS. A level two survey offers in-depth analysis as compared to a conditional report. Subsequently, it provides greater security before you can move into the house.
Level two surveys can be categorized into two; the homebuyer report including a survey and valuation, and a homebuyer report and survey. RICS offers both the subcategories.
A level two survey seeks to identify and report on a property’s apparent problems. Some of these problems include rotting, dampness, and subsidence. However, it’s key to mention that while level two reports are more detailed, they are non-intrusive. This simply means the surveyor won’t go drilling holes in the walls to investigate their quality. In fact, the surveyor isn’t allowed to move furniture or lift floorboards to check the state of the house.
While they are a lot more details, you should know if there’s a problem with the house that is not apparent, such as dampness behind drawers or under the couch, the surveyor is not obligated to report in them.
That said level two surveys are essential, as they can help you negotiate the price of the house from the issues identified. For instance, if the house has a problem that will cost £1000 to fix, you can use the report to negotiate the fee off. The average starting fee for a level two survey is £ 400.
3. Full structural or building survey (Level three)
This is the most in-depth and thorough survey you can get. It’s an ideal service for large or old properties, or if you plan to remodel the structure or build an extension.
Similar to the homebuyer report, a level three report details the property’s defects and the projected cost of repair. Unlike level two reports, however, this is more detailed and extensive—the surveyor checks behind the walls, in the attic, under floorboards, and so on. You can use the report to negotiate the price of the property, but you also need to evaluate the cost of repair, resources used, and time spent. In some cases, it may be wise to retract your offer on the house altogether.
A level three survey costs anywhere from £ 600 and upwards.
While mortgage valuations are a prerequisite for lenders before they loan you the mortgage, home surveys are not a requirement. However, experts advise you carry a home survey before purchasing any property as this will guarantee both the price and quality of the house.