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5th October 2021

Homebuyer’s Survey Checklist

When deciding which survey to have completed on a property, you may consider what is included and inspected within the actual survey. This is a great way to make your decision as you’ll gain awareness of the level of detail provided in each survey. Other buyers may make their decision based on the cost of survey’s or the time it takes to complete a survey. Whilst these are both valuable pieces of information, the Homebuyer’s survey checklist gives you clear insight into the information you will receive at the end of your survey.

Each of the surveyors partnered with My Conveyancing Specialist are RICS accredited. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors are a governing body for the standards of home surveys. Having a survey performed by an endorsed surveyor ensures you are working with an individual who is rigorously training and follows a standardised protocol during inspection. The overall benefit of this is that can rely on consistent and reliable information.

During the inspection and whilst writing up the report, RICS surveyors will use a Homebuyer’s survey checklist to provide all the relevant information and details regarding the survey and the property. Each of the sections and the information included are as follows:


1.Introduction to the Homebuyer’s report

The introduction to the report is a short section that states your responsibility in using the information provided. It also lays out the purpose of the report. The aim of a homebuyer’s survey is to assist you making an informed purchase decision for the potential property. Components of this include helping you decide the correct price to pay the property. It will also inform you of repair and maintenance costs associated with the property. Where defects cannot be fully investigated, recommendation for further inspection is included.


2. About the inspection

Within this section will include details of your surveyor and the inspection. This is useful for your records and to be used in legal negotiations. If there are any doubts raised by the sellers, you can reference the details provided in this section.

Also included in this section will be the rating system used by the surveyor. This is used to help describe the condition of the property. There will also a brief overview of the contents of the inspection.

Within this portion of the homebuyer’s survey checklist information regarding what is and isn’t included within the survey is detailed. You should base your expectations for the survey based on this information. The survey is non-invasive which mean the inspection is entirely visual. No belongings or fixtures will be moved or altered by the surveyor. The entire inside of the property should be inspected where accessible.

This includes evaluation of the roof structure from the roof space as under floor areas when possible. The roof and chimney breast will be inspected from the ground level, this can be done from multiple angles of the property as well as neighbouring properties if possible. The internal condition of chimneys cannot be assessed however. This follows for boilers and other flues. Finally, your surveyor will not comment on areas that are inaccessible or concealed and won’t give a price or recommendation for how to complete work, only a brief description of the required work will be included.


3. Surveyors’ opinions and overall condition ratings

This section provides an overall summary of the condition of the property. Later in the report, more detailed notation and condition rating for each of the elements will be provided. At this stage, the information provided gives a compiled view for each section analysed. This will include ratings for:

  • Outside the property
  • Inside the property
  • Services
  • Grounds

The rating will be performed with a 1-3 rating system or red, amber, green traffic light system. A rating of one or green indicates good condition of the element. Amber or two suggests fair condition and red or three demonstrates poor condition.

These ratings are used to justify the opinion of the surveyor on the overall condition of the property. Based on the homebuyer’s survey checklist, they would have created an objective, independent opinion. The ratings, as described, are used to help the reader understand this opinion.


4. About the property

This section mirrors the information about the inspection section. Included within will be details regarding the property. This will include the type of property and any information that has been gathered regarding its time of construction, whether it has been extended or converted. There will also be details of the rooms included in the property and their location in the house.

Furthermore, should the surveyor deem necessary, additional notes on the grounds, locations, facilities and local environment will be included.

Readers may also notice an energy efficiency rating and checkboxes for the mains services included within the property. This section should not be used in replacement of an Energy Performance Certificate. The EPC is a document required by law and in some cases, the figures have been lifted from the certificate. It is the seller’s responsibility to provide the buyer with this information.


5. Internal inspection

These sections within the report will include the surveyor’s observation of a checklist of elements within the property. The surveyors’ notes will be included as well as the traffic light rating of the element. These include:

  • Roof structure
  • Ceilings
  • Walls and partitions
  • Floors
  • Fireplaces, chimney breasts and flutes
  • Built in fittings
  • Woodwork
  • Bathroom fittings
  • Other

If the surveyor faced any difficulties trying to identify or locate any of the listed elements there is also a section titled, limitations to inspection. This will include details of obstructed access or missing features.


6. External inspection

This section is extremely similar to the internal inspection page. The surveyor will include notation for each of the elements and a rating of the condition. Again, there will also be notes on limitations to the inspection.

Within this section, elements for inspection include:

  • Chimney heads
  • Rood coverings
  • Rainwater pipes and gutters
  • Main walls
  • Windows
  • Outside doors
  • Conservatory and porches
  • Other joinery and finishes
  • Other


7. Services

This section of the homebuyer’s survey checklist will include details regarding the inspection of supplies of services to the property. These are only inspected where accessible and safe to the surveyor. Specialist tests are not carried out, they are generally only tested under normal working conditions. This may include asking the owner to work the heating system, turning on taps and filling basins to test proper workings of the plumbing.

Within this section, notation is included on the following elements:

  • Electricity
  • Gas/Oil
  • Water
  • Heating
  • Water heating
  • Drainage
  • Common Services

It should also be recognised that notation on the effectiveness or safety of these services cannot be used in replacement of gas or electricity safety certificates. If there are any causes for concern within any of these sections there will typically be recommendations for the appropriate registered service.


8. Grounds

In a rather brief section, any notation on the quality and condition of the grounds of the property will be included. This will be as a result of a walk around inspection of the entire accessible area grounds of the property.

Notes detailing the following elements of the property are included;

  • Garage
  • Other
  • General


9. Legal issues to be followed up

During this section of the Homebuyer’s survey checklist, the surveyor will comment on follow up legal advice to be addressed by your solicitor. They won’t provide legal advice but may comment on investigation of the following:

  • Regulation
  • Guarantees
  • Other matters


10. Risks

Within this section of the Homebuyer’s survey checklist, you surveyor will comment on the most pertinent risks within the property. This will include damages or defects that need attention. It may also include the details of defects that have existed for a considerable period of time that cannot be restored but may cause a hazard. The information will refer to the section of report and element that the risk is in relation to.


11. Property Valuation (optional)

This section is typically an additional feature which incurs extra costs. It is not included in a base rate Homebuyer’s survey checklist. If you want to know the value of your property, your surveyor is able to carry out a valuation based on the information gathered as well as additional details.

They will base their decision on the material of the property, its construction, services, features and fittings. As well as research of local properties and information from the local authorities and council. This will provide you with a price in relation to the current market.


12. Surveyors’ declaration

This penultimate section offers declaration that the homebuyer survey checklist has been followed to the best of the surveyor’s ability and the report was generated objectively with the available information.


13. What to do now

This is potentially some of the most useful information in the report after discovering defects or remedial work required in the property. The section outlines your next steps after uncovering this information.

  • Getting Quotations:

You might reconsider your purchase offer after receiving quotes for repair and remedial work based on information provided by the surveyor. Before committing yourself the property and pre-agreed price, the homebuyer’s survey checklist recommends getting quotations from experienced contractors based on the information included in the report.

  • Further investigation:

It will be made increasingly clear to you throughout the survey process that a homebuyer’s survey is entirely non-invasive. This stands for each of the RICS level surveys. Information is gathered through a solely visible inspection. Therefore, if there is anything concealed or inaccessible to the surveyor that appears concerning, they may recommend your next steps for further investigation. This would involve locating specialist knowledge to make a full assessment of that element within the property.

This is incredibly important to address before committing to the property. If your surveyor has any concerns, you should act on these with urgency to ensure you aren’t purchasing a difficult or hazardous property.