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15th September 2023

Unveiling the Right Survey for Your UK House Purchase: What Type Do You Need?

Introduction by My Conveyancing Specialist on house surveys

Navigating the labyrinth of home purchases can be a nerve-wracking process, filled with numerous complexities and uncertainties. Amongst these, one critical element that often leaves prospective buyers scratching their heads is the house survey. So what is a house survey, and why is it so vital in the home-buying process?

A house survey is an expert inspection of a property’s condition that identifies potential problems to a buyer before they make what could be one of the most significant financial commitments of their lives. It’s an essential step that provides a comprehensive health check of your prospective new home, conducted by a professional surveyor. These property doctors dive into every nook and cranny, identifying everything from minor issues that could be easily fixed to significant structural problems that could potentially derail your purchase or even turn your dream home into a nightmare.

House surveys

Now, why should you consider getting a house survey done?

Firstly, a house survey gives you a detailed understanding of the property’s condition, reducing the chance of unexpected and potentially costly surprises down the line. If a survey uncovers significant issues like structural weaknesses or damp, you can negotiate the price down or ask the seller to fix the problems before completion. In extreme cases, a survey can even help you decide to walk away from a purchase altogether.

Secondly, it can be a valuable tool in your negotiation arsenal. If a survey highlights issues that will require remediation, you can use this information to negotiate a lower purchase price.

Lastly, having a survey done can provide you with peace of mind. Buying a home is a significant investment, and a survey can provide you with the reassurance that you’re making a sound decision.

In the UK, there are several types of house surveys available, each offering different levels of detail and catering to different types of properties. These range from basic condition reports, which provide a broad overview of the property’s condition, to full structural surveys, which delve into the minutiae of the property’s structure and condition.

In the upcoming sections, we’ll delve deeper into these different types of house surveys, their costs, and how to decide which one is the right fit for your prospective home purchase. Stay tuned!

Types of House Surveys

When purchasing a house in the UK, choosing the right type of survey can be crucial. It can help identify potential issues, provide a clear understanding of the property’s condition, and save you from unforeseen expenses in the future. Here are some of the most common types of house surveys available.

RICS Home Survey – Level 1

If you’re eyeing a relatively new, conventional property that appears to be in reasonable condition, the RICS Home Survey – Level 1 might be just what you need. This basic survey provides a ‘traffic light’ rating, highlighting the condition of different parts of the building. However, while this survey is cost-effective, remember it does not offer advice or a valuation.

RICS Home Survey – Level 2

For those considering a conventional property in reasonable condition but desiring a more detailed inspection, the RICS Home Survey – Level 2 is a popular choice. This survey expands upon Level 1 by checking roof spaces and cellars. Additionally, it offers recommendations for further investigations and advice on potential repairs and future maintenance. This survey can provide peace of mind, knowing you’re aware of any immediate or future repair costs.

RPSA Home Condition Survey

The RPSA Home Condition Survey is a comprehensive alternative to the RICS Home Survey – Level 2. Presented in a consistent, consumer-friendly format, this survey includes additional information such as broadband speed, a damp assessment, and boundary issues. This survey is particularly beneficial for those looking to understand every aspect of their potential purchase.

RICS Home Survey – Level 3

For older properties, those of unusual design, listed buildings, or properties in poor condition, the RICS Home Survey – Level 3 is a better fit. This survey is the most thorough one offered by RICS and includes everything in Level 2. Plus, it offers detailed descriptions of potential or hidden defects and provides recommendations on the necessary repairs. This survey can be particularly helpful if you’re planning to undertake renovations or if the property raises any concerns.

RPSA Building Survey

The RPSA Building Survey is the highest level of non-invasive survey offered by the Residential Property Surveyors Association. It provides comprehensive descriptions of the property’s construction and any defects. It also gives explanations on how to rectify defects and the consequences of not doing so. This survey is perfect for those seeking an in-depth understanding of their property’s condition.

In conclusion, the type of survey you choose largely depends on the property’s age, design, and condition. Whether you decide on a basic survey like RICS Home Survey – Level 1 or a more comprehensive one like the RPSA Building Survey, remember that a thorough investigation of your potential purchase can save you from costly surprises down the line.

Survey Costs

When buying a house in the UK, it’s crucial to get a property survey to uncover any hidden issues that might cost you down the line. But, how much should you expect to pay for a house survey? Well, the cost of a survey depends on several factors, including the type of survey you choose, the location, and the size of the property.

Cost Ranges for Each Type of Survey

There are various types of surveys you can choose from when purchasing a house in the UK. The RICS Home Survey Level 1, typically costs between £300-£900, depending on your property’s value and size. This survey is ideal for newer homes and conventional properties in good condition.

A more detailed report, the RICS Home Survey Level 2, also known as a homebuyer survey, will generally set you back between £400-£1000. If you’re buying a property in a reasonable condition but want to know about any potential issues, this survey is for you.

For older or more complex properties, you might want to consider the RICS Home Survey Level 3 or RPSA Building Survey. These comprehensive surveys can cost anywhere from £630 to £1500 or more. They provide an in-depth view of the property’s structure and condition, making them invaluable for more substantial or older properties that may have serious defects.

Factors That Can Affect Survey Costs

The location and size of your property significantly influence the cost of your survey. For instance, a survey for a property priced between £100,000-£249,000 can cost around £500 for a RICS Home Survey Level 1. But for a property priced £500,000-£1m, the same survey can cost up to £950.

Moreover, surveyors’ fees can vary, so it’s essential to get multiple quotes before making a final decision. Remember, the cheapest quote isn’t always the best. You should also consider the surveyor’s experience, reputation, and the thoroughness of the survey.

Importance of Comparing Quotes from Different Surveyors

Like any other service, it’s crucial to compare quotes from different surveyors. This will ensure you not only get the best price but also the best service quality. Don’t simply choose the first surveyor you come across; do your research, read reviews, and ensure they have a solid reputation in the industry.

In conclusion, getting a survey before purchasing a house in the UK is an investment worth making. While it may seem like an extra expense, it could potentially save you thousands of pounds in unforeseen repairs down the line. So budget for it early, compare quotes, and choose the right survey for your needs.

How to Choose a Surveyor

Choosing the right surveyor for your property purchase in the UK can make all the difference. A good surveyor can provide a detailed report that could potentially save you thousands of pounds in future repair costs. Here’s how to make sure you’re picking the right one.

Shop Around

The first step towards finding your perfect surveyor is to shop around. This means getting quotes from several surveying firms and comparing them. You might be tempted to go with the surveyor recommended by your bank, estate agent, or mortgage lender. However, it’s important to remember that these recommendations could end up costing you more.

Check Their Credentials

Once you have a few potential surveyors in mind, it’s time to check their credentials. Your surveyor should be a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA). Members of these bodies carry either MRICS or FRICS after their names. These organisations ensure that their members uphold professional standards in their work.

Request Past Reports

Lastly, ask to see past reports from each surveyor. Property survey reports often come with many caveats, which can make it difficult to decide how to respond to them. Seeing past reports can give you an idea of what to expect and whether their style of reporting will be useful in your situation.

Remember, the goal here is to find a surveyor who can provide a thorough and understandable report that will help you make an informed decision about your property purchase.

Choosing the right surveyor requires careful consideration, but the effort spent will be worth it in the end when you have all the necessary information to proceed confidently with your property purchase.

Getting the Most Out of Your Survey

Embarking on the journey of buying a new home is a thrilling adventure, but it comes with its share of challenges. Among these is the task of having a property survey conducted. This crucial step in the home buying process can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. By effectively communicating your specific concerns, discussing these with your surveyor before they undertake the survey, and even requesting to attend the survey visit, you can ensure you get the most out of your property survey.

Communicating Specific Concerns to the Surveyor

The first move towards a successful survey experience is expressing your specific worries about the property to your surveyor. This can range from concerns about the structural integrity of the property, possible damp issues, the condition of the roof, or any other aspects that may be causing you unease. By articulating these concerns clearly to your surveyor, you enable them to focus their attention on these areas during the survey, ensuring a more thorough examination of your possible future home.

Discussing Concerns with the Surveyor Before the Survey

Prior to the property survey, it’s advisable to have a candid conversation with your surveyor about any particular aspects you’d like them to look into. This could be anything from potential renovation plans you have in mind, to specific parts of the property you feel may need closer inspection. By doing this, you give your surveyor a better understanding of your expectations and needs, allowing them to tailor their survey to best suit your situation.

Requesting to Attend the Survey Visit

Lastly, don’t shy away from requesting to attend the survey visit towards the end. This not only gives you a chance to point out things that worry you, but it also provides an opportunity to ask any questions about the property and the survey process. Remember, it’s your potential house, and you have every right to understand everything about it.

In conclusion, getting the most out of your property survey is all about clear, open communication with your surveyor. By expressing your concerns, discussing them beforehand, and being present during the survey visit, you are setting yourself up for a smooth, stress-free property purchase.


In the grand finale of your house-buying journey, remember that the importance of getting a house survey cannot be overstated. It’s not just a box-ticking exercise, but a crucial step in making an informed decision about your future home. Taking this step could save you from sleepless nights and hefty repair bills down the line.

Now that we’ve unveiled the types of surveys available for your UK house purchase, the choice is in your hands. Whether it’s a basic Condition Report, a more detailed Homebuyer Report, or a comprehensive Building Survey, the right type of survey for you will depend on your specific needs, the property in question, and of course, your budget.

Remember that while the cost of a house survey may seem like an additional burden on your house-buying budget, it’s a wise investment. A thorough survey can save you from unforeseen issues, expensive repair work, and it can also serve as a powerful negotiating tool when discussing the property price.

In essence, a survey is like a health check for your potential new home. It’s about knowing what you’re getting into and ensuring that your investment is sound. So, as you’re on the brink of making one of the most significant purchases of your life, make sure to get the right survey for your property. It’s not just about buying a house, but about securing a home where you can create lasting memories without any unwelcome surprises.