Home Buying Guide: Article Three – ‘Should I get a property survey carried out?’


‘Should I get a property survey carried out?’

Buying a house is not a simple, fast purchase. On the contrary, there are many processes to be carried out which require time and careful consideration. One such process to consider is the possibility of whether or not to get a survey carried out on the property you wish to buy.

A survey is normally carried out after the offer on the property has been accepted. However, you may have heard buyers mention that they choose not to have one, or at least not the most comprehensive one. Confused? Read on to find out the facts about property surveys so you can ensure that you are fully informed when you make a decision whether or not to have one carried out on the property you are purchasing.

What is a property survey?

A property survey is a survey carried out by a qualified surveyor who examines the property for structural issues which may need repairing or altering.  The level of detail is dependent upon the type of survey chosen (see below). For example, in a detailed survey, the surveyor will also outline the finite details regarding the property such as type of glazing etc.

It is important to note that a property survey is not a mortgage valuation. The latter is simply an inspection of a property to assess the value of it to ensure that it is worth the loan a mortgage company may be offering you to purchase it with.  A mortgage valuation is sometimes referred to as a ‘valuation survey’ which is where the confusion lies.

If you are purchasing a newly built property, you may wish to require a ‘snagging survey’ to be carried out on the property and to try to get this completed before the home is fully built. Where it is already built you should try to get it carried out before you exchange contracts. The survey will let you know issues which require attention.

Why choose to get a property survey?

damp-affecting-a-property-could-cost-to-rectifyWhilst there is no requirement for a buyer to get a property survey carried out, we believe it is a wise and cost-effective move to request one.  A property survey will furnish you with detailed information on the property which you would not necessarily be able to find out from the seller. The seller may not even be aware of any issues regarding the property.

A property survey, therefore, gives you an informed understanding of your prospective purchase, putting you in a better position to choose whether to move forward and if so, how.  For example, if a property survey reveals severe and costly structural issues with the property which require time to fix you may decide that it is not the property for you.  Alternatively, you may require the seller to drop the price to account for such issues. A property survey, therefore, creates the leverage to negotiate.

Research suggests that not getting a property survey carried out on the home you wish to purchase could amount to an average of £5,750 in repair bills for issues which were hidden from the buyer when purchasing the property.

Obviously, it is entirely up to you whether you think a property survey is worth paying for as part of your purchase but we would suggest you seriously consider it, particularly if your property:

  • has a thatched roof
  • has a timbered frame
  • causes you any obvious initial concerns
  • is a listed building

Types of property survey available:

  • Condition Report

This is a level one survey and costs approximately £300 upwards.  It does not contain a valuation or advice but contains basic information on defects and issues, categorised according to traffic light coding.

  • Homebuyers Report

This level two survey is more detailed.  It comes with or without a valuation and an insurance reinstatement value* which is naturally reflected in the price.  Without costs from approximately £350 upwards and with starts from approximately £450.  This type of survey will outline the obvious issues with the building but will not look into further details which might be found by a deeper investigation such as by lifting floorboards etc.

. *An insurance reinstatement value values the amount which would be paid out should the building be destroyed by fire.

  • Home Condition Survey

This is also a level two survey.  A Home Condition Survey will offer you further information on the property such as broadband speeds and any damp issues, plus is laid out in an easily accessible format.

  • Building Survey (previously known as a structural survey)

This level three survey is priced according to the size of the home, starting at approximately £500.  It will normally include a market valuation or an insurance reinstating value estimate.  It is the most comprehensive type of survey and will give you an in-depth detailed assessment of the property, including, for example, the condition behind walls and in the attic.  It should indicate detailed issues such as, for example, the presence of Japanese Knotweed. Where a surveyor recently failed to alert a blind person about the presence of it in a comprehensive survey the surveyor was successfully sued.  This type of survey, therefore, goes further than the other types of surveys; it offers information on how the issues may have occurred, how urgently they may need repairing and gives an idea of the cost.

Handy Hints

Below are some useful snippets of information regarding property surveys which will be of assistance to you:

  • Ensure the property surveyor is a member of an association such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) or Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA) Should you be unfortunate enough to receive a negligent survey, any damages awarded to you may be based on the difference between the actual value of the property and the market value when you purchased it which could be significantly less than the amount you may have had to spend to put right the issues not pointed out in the survey . Therefore, the importance of using a good property surveyor is paramount.
  • If you are recommended a property surveyor by your estate agent or mortgage lender do not follow the recommendation without carrying out your own fact-finding. The recommendation may not be impartial as it could have been made on the basis of the agent or lender receiving a commission.
  • Choose your surveyor according to your property type and area. If your property is an unusual type of building then chose a surveyor who is an expert in that type of building. A surveyor familiar with the area your property is located in is probably going to be familiar with prices in that area.
  • If you are getting a ‘snagging survey’ carried out chose a firm which is not associated with any builders or developers to ensure you get independent advice.


Whilst a property survey will increase the budget required for your property purchase it is clearly an insignificant cost in comparison to the cost of purchasing the property. The cost of a property survey also arguably outweighs the costs involved should issues are later found in the property which could have been negotiated at the outset had a survey revealed them.

Still not sure?

Why not contact our friendly team at OnlineConveyancingSolicitors.co.uk? We are happy to explain the different types of surveys in more detail and also the associated conveyancing process.



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