Services / Building Surveys
Residential Building Surveys
A building survey may seem like an unnecessary expense when you are already spending a lot of money buying a house, however, depending on the age and condition of the property you are buying, money spent on a decent survey could save you a fortune in the future and you may also be able to use the information in the survey to negotiate the price with the vendor.
There are essentially three 'levels' of homebuyer survey: a Condition Report (level one), a Homebuyer Report (level two), and Building Survey (level three) plus a Snagging Survey, which is specifically for new-build homes.
A Condition Report is the most basic of the surveys. It provides a description of the condition of the property and uses a ‘traffic light’ system to identifying any issues and highlight any urgent defects. No advice or valuation is provided. It is suitable for relatively new properties with no known issues and will usually cost between £400 and £950 depending on the size and value of the property.
An RICS Homebuyers Report is suitable for most standard properties that are in reasonable condition but it is non-intrusive so the Surveyor will only report on surface-level issues including damp and subsidence. If it is not possible to check any parts of the property that the inspection would normally cover, it is noted and if there is any concern then the surveyor will advise on any further investigations that are necessary. It also offers advice on repairs and maintenance and points out anything that doesn’t meet current building regulations. It may include a market valuation and rebuild cost and will usually cost between £450 and £1,000 depending on the size and value of the property.
The AFA RICS Homebuyers Report includes the following sections:
- About the inspection
- Overall opinion and summary of the condition ratings
- About the property
- Inside the property
- Grounds (including shared areas for flats)
- Issues for your legal advisors
- What to do next
N.B. AFA does not offer Valuation Reports.
An RICS Building Survey (formerly called a structural survey) includes a thorough inspection of the property and a detailed report based on the inspection. It aims to help you make an informed decision when purchasing the property or when planning for repairs, maintenance or upgrading the property. The report will provide detailed advice on the condition, describe identifiable risk of potential or hidden defects and make recommendations as to any further actions or advice that needs to be obtained before committing to purchase. By prior agreement and as an additional service, the surveyor can also give budget costings for any works that may be required. A building survey should be used for large, older or unusual homes, renovation projects and properties in a poor condition. It will usually cost between £600 and £1,500 depending on the size and value of the property.
The AFA Building Survey Report includes the following sections:
- About the inspection
- About the property
- Rights of way
- Special hazards
- An external inspection (roofs, chimney stacks & flashings, rainwater goods, external joinery, main walls, windows and doors/glazing, damp proof course, boundary walls and drainage).
- An internal inspection (ceilings, walls, floors, joinery, fireplaces, flues & chimney breasts, woodworm, dry rot & other timber defects, sanitary ware, hot water & central heating, roof spaces)
- Budget costings if requested and agreed.
- A photographic schedule
A Snagging Survey includes an inspection to identify any issues and a report based on the inspection. It is specifically for new-build properties and usually costs from £300 depending on the size and value of the property.
Mortgage valuations vs house surveys
When you apply for a mortgage, the mortgage lender will carry out a valuation to ensure the property is worth roughly what you're planning to pay for it. A mortgage valuation is sometimes described as a 'valuation survey', but this title is misleading. A mortgage valuation is nowhere near comprehensive enough to take the place of a proper house survey, so you should always commission your own independent survey once you've had an offer accepted.
How long does a Residential Survey take?
How long a house inspection takes depends on the level of survey you choose and the type and size of property. A Condition Survey may take less than an hour to complete and a Homebuyers Survey may take up to four hours.
A full Building Survey will vary considerably depending on the type of property you’re buying, with some taking as long as a full day.
When will I get my Report?
This depends on the complexity of the report, however, generally we would expect to get your Survey Report back to you within seven days from the date of the inspection.
If you’re looking at a property that that requires a Homebuyers Survey, a Building Survey or a Snagging Survey, please call AFA for a free, no obligation quote.