Property survey guide

What type of property survey is right for you?

RICS Property Surveys

A property survey is an important part of the process when buying a property. Choosing the right survey will help highlight any serious problems and inform you of the specific risks before you commit to the process of buying or selling a property.

RICS have three different levels of property surveys. The type of property survey you need depends on the age and condition of the property. In March 2021, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) introduced a new Home Survey Standard which involved new formats for the reports and a change to the report names, as follows:

  • RICS Home Survey Level 1 – previously called a Condition Report
  • RICS Home Survey Level 2 (survey only) – previously called a Homebuyer Report
  • RICS Home Survey Level 2 (survey and valuation)
  • RICS Home Survey Level 3 – previously called a Building Survey

Independent Valuation Report

An independent property valuation report is another type of property survey that can be undertaken for when confirmation of the property value is required. It should be carried out by a RICS surveyor.

RICS Home Survey Level 1 / Condition Report

The RICS Home Survey Level 1, previously known as a Condition Report provides a basic overview of a property's condition and the risks it may contain. It is the cheapest and least thorough home survey type available. It does not include a valuation.

A RICS Home Survey Level 1 involves the following:

  1. Physical Survey Inspection
    The survey is a basic survey to give a general overview of the property's condition. It will include an internal and external survey areas of the property which are easily accessible and visible.  

    It will cover some of the common issues found throughout properties, as well as any obvious surface-level issues. It will also advise on any legal issues that need to be addressed before the transaction is complete. This report also provides the homeowner with information on location, local environment and recorded energy efficiency.

  2. Report
    The report is aimed at providing you with an understanding of the condition of the property to allow you to make an informed decision on serious or urgent repairs, and on the maintenance of the issues reported. The RICS Home Survey – Level 1 report does not include advice on repairs or ongoing maintenance issues.

The surveyor gives condition ratings to the main parts (the 'elements') of the main building, garage and some outside elements.

The condition ratings are described as follows:

Condition rating 1 No repair is currently needed.
Condition rating 2 Defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered to be either serious or urgent.
Condition rating 3 Defects that are serious and/or need to be repaired, replaced or investigated urgently
R Documents that it is suggested are requested before you sign contracts
NI Elements not inspected.

It is important to note that a Level 1 Home Survey is the most basic report and does not include guidance and advice about what to do next. A Home Survey Level 2 or Level 3 may be more suitable depending on the property being purchased and the depth of information required.

RICS Home Survey Level 2 / Homebuyer Report

A RICS Level 2 Home Survey, previously known as a Homebuyer Report is more indepth than the Home Survey Level and is the most commonly used survey type. It is suitable for conventional buildings and homes that are fairly modern, typically up to 50 years old. A valuation can be included if required.

A RICS Level 2 Home Survey involves the following:

  1. Physical inspection
    This involves a physical inspection of the internal and external areas of the property which are easily accessible and visible. Inspection includes the main building and any outbuildings. The survey will look at the condition of features such as ceilings, walls, woodwork, roof, gutters, windows. It will also include inspection for damp, rot and woodworm problems.
  2. A report

The report documents the survey findings, such as damp meter readings and any items that could need future repairs or require maintenance. The report follows a set format unlike a Building Survey.

What is included in a RICS Home Survey Level 2 report?

The report will give:

  • Background information on the property and its location
  • Description of the construction, overall condition, and any visible defects
  • Any damp results
  • Condition of the building's timbers in terms of any rot or woodworm issues
  • Condition ratings

The survey does not open up the fabric of the buildings. This means the inspection will not include lifting fitted carpets or taking up floorboards.

Condition ratings:

The surveyor gives condition ratings to the main parts (the 'elements') of the main building, garage and some outside elements.

The condition ratings are described as follows:

Condition rating 1 No repair is currently needed.
Condition rating 2 Defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered to be either serious or urgent.
Condition rating 3 Defects that are serious and/or need to be repaired, replaced or investigated urgently
R Documents that it is suggested are requested before you sign contracts
NI Elements not inspected.

RICS Home Survey Level 3 / Building Survey

RICS Level 3 Survey, previously known as Building Survey, provides a more detailed evaluation of a property's condition. It is a more in-depth property inspection than the RICS Level 2 Home Survey. It covers:

  1. A building inspection:  
    This involves an inspection of the internal and external parts of the property that are both accessible and visible. There is a legal responsibility to inform of any major issues so the surveyor will be actively searching for building defects and potential problems.
  2. Survey report:
    The report is a detailed report which unlike a RICS Level 2 Home Survey, does not follow a set format. It will confirm any minor or major property defects, a description of these, recommendations for any further investigation and potential issues if the defects are not addressed.
  3. Property valuation:  
    This can be included as part of the report but is not standard so this must be requested.

What's included in a Building Survey Report?

  • Significant defects and what they could mean to the integrity of the property
  • Results of tests fordampin the walls and condition of any damp proof course
  • Signs of dry rot or the presence of woodworm and other damage to timbers
  • Any alterations to supporting walls in the property and/or renovations that have occurred considering planning permissions
  • If there is presence of any hazardous materials such as asbestos
  • Structural issues such as signs of subsidence
  • Damage to masonry and roof and timbers
  • The presence of any trees which are close to the property
  • Observation of the building materials and any relevant technical information
  • Recommendations for further investigations on the property

The report does not include heating or electrics.

What do the different property surveys cost?

REPORT WHAT IT COVERS WHAT TYPE OF PROPERTY IS IT SUITABLE FOR? COST
RICS Home Survey Level 1 Visible defects and a condition rating. Highlights issues in need of urgent investigation Standard properties in a good state of repair, new homes  £300 –  £900
RICS Home Survey Level 2 More in-depth investigation. Detailed report to a set format. Condition rating. Advice on issues and action needed. Standard properties in a reasonable state of repair  £400 –  £1000
RICS Home Survey Level 3 Indepth survey and bespoke report. Identify minor and major issues. Estimate of costs for repairing defects For older and unusual properties, and those in a poor condition  £630 –  £1500

Does a property survey cost more depending on the size of the property?

REPORT  £100K –  £249K  £250K –  £349K  £350K –  £499K  £500K –  £1M
RICS Home Survey Level 1  £300 –  £500  £500 –  £600  £600 –  £700  £700 –  £900
RICS Home Survey Level 2  £400 –  £600  £600 –  £700  £700 –  £800  £800 –  £1000
RICS Home Survey Level 3  £630 –  £800  £800 –  £900  £900 –  £1,100  £1000 –  £1,500

What is an Independent Property Valuation Report?

An Independent Property Valuation Report gives a legal and professional assessment of what a property is worth. The survey is undertaken by an independent surveyor to give an impartial valuation.

What does a property valuation survey involve?

The survey will consider all factors that can affect the price of the property. This will involve an assessment of the property itself in terms of its size, accommodation, condition, tenure and location. The assessment will also take into account the wider area such as access to local amenities, transport and schools as well as a market analysis against other properties in the area and future planning for growth or development that may affect the property value. Photographs will usually be included in the report.

Why is an Independent Property Valuation Report necessary?

There are a number of reasons why a valuation report is undertaken as follows:

  • Home owner research
  • Transfer of equity
  • Divorce settlement
  • Sale of a shared ownership property
  • Extension of leasehold
  • Purchase of a freehold
  • Staircasing for a housing association
  • Probate valuation

What is the difference between an independent property valuation survey and a mortgage valuation survey?

An independent property valuation survey taking into account factors like recent sales in the area and property market trends.

A mortgage valuation survey is carried out on behalf of and instructed by the mortgage lender. The objective is for the lender to gain confirmation the mortgage amount is appropriate for the offer price and so the valuation will look at any issues that could impact the value of the property. It is done before the lender approves the mortgage.

Selling a house?

Whether you are a first-time buyer or taking the next step up the property ladder. You need a Purchase Conveyancing Quote

Buying a house?

Time to move on? Start the conveyancing process to sell your property ready to begin your next chapter. You need a Sale Conveyancing Quote

Buying and selling?

When you are ready to sell your current property and purchase a new one. You need a Sale and Purchase Conveyancing Quote

Our use of cookies

We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. These contain no personal data. We use analytics cookies to help us make improvements by measuring the way you use the site. Certain cookies help the site to perform predictably. Without them the site may not work properly. You are free to disable them in your browser settings. Accept and dismiss  Reject and dismiss