Property surveys form an important part of the property development finance process. We take a closer look at what you need to know.
What is a property survey?
This is an inspection of the property’s overall condition, which is assessed by an expert surveyor who visits the building and prepares a property report based on their findings.
The surveyor is able to determine if there are any problems with a property that are a cause for concern for the prospective buyer.
What does a surveyor look for?
The property surveyor will be able to check if there any structural problems with the building, such as subsidence issues or unstable walls. They can also check to see if major alterations or repairs are needed to be carried out (such as fixing the roof) before it can be used.
When is a property survey carried out?
In most cases, once the homebuyers’ offer has been approved by the seller, the property is assessed by a surveyor.
Types of property surveyors
When getting a property survey, you should make sure that the surveyor you have chosen is accredited by one of the following bodies:
- SAVA or RSPA – the Residential Property Surveyors Association
- RICS – the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
It is worth remembering that surveyors from these accrediting bodies offer different types of surveys. For example, RICS surveyors provide three ‘levels’ of a property survey, involving a Condition Report, Homebuyer Report, and a Building Survey.
Is a property survey the same as a mortgage valuation?
No, a mortgage valuation is simply a brief assessment of a property to see how much it is roughly valued to be. This valuation is a requirement for most mortgage lenders in order to justify the loan amount.
A mortgage valuation is definitely not as comprehensive (nor can it replace) as a house survey.
What is the cost of a property survey?
The cost of a property survey is upwards from £300. The amount paid will be largely dependent on the type of survey you choose. We will go into further details as to the types of property surveys there are to choose from in the next section.
What types of property surveys are there?
- Condition Report (survey level one) – the cheapest and most basic survey available. It provides a summary of property defects and potential risks, as well as ‘traffic light’ indications as to the state of different parts of the building.
- HomeBuyers Report (survey level two – survey only) – details major problems, non-intrusive survey
- HomeBuyers Report (survey and valuation), – includes a survey as well as valuation and an insurance reinstatement value as well
- Home Condition Survey – offered only by RPSA, also provides practical information including damp assessments.
- Building Survey (survey level three) – by RICS surveyors. The most expensive option, but they are extensive surveys and you are given a report.
What type of property survey should I get?
As already briefly mentioned, there a range of property surveys to choose from. The one you should opt for will depend on the depth of the property survey you are looking for, as well as your overall budget.
How long does a property survey take?
It will depend on the level of survey you have chosen and the size of the building which will be assessed.
- A level-one property survey may take up to an hour to complete
- A level-two property survey make take up to four hours
- A level-three property survey may take up to a full working day to complete
Do I need to get a survey?
It is highly recommended that you get a property survey before you purchase a property. This enables you to make a fully informed decision about the building and the amount you will be willing to pay for it. Depending on the result of the survey, you can also allow for a budget for repairs that may need doing.
It can also be an excellent way to negotiate the price with the seller, depending on the outcome of the survey.