All about RICS Homebuyer Report, RICS Valuation and RICS Surveyors

Different Types of Building Survey

A building survey or house survey is an expert inspection of the condition of a property which is designed to identify any problems to the prospective buyer. It is carried out by a surveyor who will visit the property to inspect it and prepare a report that outlines any issues they find. In general, home buyers will typically have a survey conducted on a property after the seller has accepted their offer. While it is not a legal requirement to have a building survey conducted when purchasing a new property, it is recommended for several reasons. Without a buildings survey, homebuyers may struggle to have a mortgage accepted for their new property or be unable to get the home insurance policy that they would like.

There are three main accrediting bodies for building surveyors. Building surveyors can register with one of three main accrediting bodies. If you’re hiring somebody to survey a property, you should make sure that they are registered with either:

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS): RICS-accredited surveyors offer three different survey levels. These are a Condition Report, Homebuyer Report, and Building Survey.

The Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA) or SAVA: Sava and RPSA offer different types of survey.

The different survey levels offered will cover the following:

Condition Report: The overall condition of the property including any potential legal issues, risks, or urgent defects.

Homebuyer Report/Home Condition Survey: All the features of a Condition Report, plus advice on maintenance and repairs, and information on any defects that might affect the property. Surveyors may also include the cost of rebuilding the property and a market valuation.

Building Survey: A more in-depth look at the condition of the property with advice on any defects, property repairs, and maintenance information.

Do I Really Need a Building Survey?

When you are in the process of purchasing a property and already spending a lot of money, getting a building survey conducted can often seem like an unnecessary expense. However, it is certainly money well-spent since it is always better to be aware of any problems with the property before you decide to buy it. A survey will allow you to make an informed decision about whether or not the property is the right choice for you and how much you are willing to pay for it. You’ll also be more informed about any repair work that might need doing once you have bought the property, allowing you to budget for it. You could also use the information provided in the survey report to negotiate with the seller, such as asking them to reduce the price by the total amount of repairs needed as found in the survey.

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A Look at the Survey Levels Offered By Sava and RICS Surveyors:

With three different levels of building survey available, it can often be tricky to decide which one is the best choice for the property that you are planning to buy. Take a look at some more in-depth descriptions of each type of survey and who they are best for:

RICS Condition Report (Level One):

The RICS Condition Report is the most basic type of survey, offering a general overview of the condition of the home and highlighting any significant issues that will need attention. This survey type is the ideal choice if you are looking to buy a fairly new home or a standard modern property that is in overall good condition and simply want confirmation that everything is OK. The report illustrates the condition of different parts of the property using traffic light ratings and will provide you with information on anything that might affect the property’s safety or will need immediate attention.

RICS Homebuyer Report (Level Two):

The RICS Homebuyer report is the most popular type of buildings survey offered and is the typical choice for anybody looking to purchase a property in reasonable condition. The Homebuyer Report will look at everything that is typically covered in a Condition Report but go into more depth, taking around 2-4 hours to complete. After a Homebuyer Report survey, you will be provided with a list of problems that might affect the value of the property. You’ll also be informed of any problems such as subsidence or damp, anything that does not meet current building regulations, and advice from the surveyor regarding recommended repairs and ongoing property maintenance. This report can also include information on how much it would cost to completely rebuild the property if it was destroyed, and how much the surveyor thinks the property is currently worth.

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Sava Home Condition Survey (Level Two):

The Sava Home Condition Survey is similar to the RICS Homebuyer Report but does not offer a market valuation. You will be provided with photographs that highlight any issues that will need to be followed up on before you make the purchase. This survey will also flag any legal questions that you will need to speak with your conveyancer about before finalising the property purchase.

RICS Building Survey (Level Three):

The RICS Building Survey is also known as a full structural survey and is the most thorough survey option to go for. You will be provided with a full, comprehensive analysis of the condition and structure of the property, making it an ideal choice of a survey for those who are purchasing an older property, a property in obviously poor condition, or a property with an unusual design. This type of survey can also be worth investing in if you have some major concerns about a property or if you are planning to undertake significant renovation work once purchased. Typically, the RICS Building Survey is carried out on houses rather than flats. The surveyor will check everywhere in the home including in the attic and under floorboards to provide you with a report that lists defects and offers advice on future maintenance and repairs. Your surveyor can also include their projected timings and costs for any necessary or recommended repair work.

Snagging Surveys for New Builds:

If you are planning to purchase a new build property, you will need a slightly different type of survey. Surveys specifically designed for new builds are known as snagging surveys and are carried out to identify any defects in a new build property covering everything from minor cosmetic issues to serious structural problems. You can hand this report to the property developer before you move in so that they can deal with any issues quickly under your developer warranty.

Mortgage Valuations Vs RICS Valuations:

When you apply for a mortgage, your lender will carry out a valuation on the home you’re planning to buy to ensure that it is roughly worth what you are planning to pay for it. This is sometimes known as a valuation survey, but this title can be misleading. Many homebuyers mistakenly believe that the valuation survey carried out by the mortgage lender is comprehensive enough to take the place of a building survey, but in reality, it may not even involve anybody visiting the property in person. You should always arrange your own independent RICS survey and valuation after having an offer accepted on a property to ensure that you are not about to purchase a house with significant problems and are paying a fair price.

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How Long Does a House Survey Take?

The length of time that a survey will take will depend on several factors including the size of the property and the level of survey chosen. You can usually expect a level one survey to last up to an hour, while a level two survey can take up to four hours. A level three survey can vary considerably in length depending on the type of property, with some taking an entire day. You can expect to get your house survey report in no longer than five days for level one or two or ten days for level three, depending on the surveyor and the report complexity. Your surveyor should provide you with information on how long they expect to take to prepare the report.

How Much Does a House Survey Cost?

The cost of your house survey will vary significantly depending on a variety of factors including the size, type, location, and condition of your property. Surveyors are also often self-employed and set their own rates, so it is worth getting a few different quotes before deciding which surveyor to go with. A rough idea of the cost for each survey on a home worth £250,000-£349,000 would be:

Condition Report: £600

Homebuyer Report or Home Condition Survey: £700

Building Survey: £900

Snagging Survey: £300-£600, depending on the property’s size

How to Find Sava or RICS Surveyors:

Surveyors range from large companies to independent contractors. Regardless of who you use, it’s important to ensure that they are registered with a trade association. You can find surveyors using comparison websites, local listings, or ask for personal recommendations. Your mortgage lender or estate agent may recommend a surveyor, but it’s worth doing some research to make sure that you’re getting the best deal. Using your lender’s surveyor may improve your risk of the lender down-valuing your property and offering a smaller mortgage.

If you’re buying a new property, choosing the right type of building survey is important to ensure that you’re going into the purchase as informed as possible.