Buying your home could be the most significant investment that you ever make.

So, if you’re purchasing a residential property, especially in or around North London, you should strongly consider commissioning a survey.

What is a home buyers report?

As a first-time buyer, thinking of purchasing in Islington or Newington Green, one of the best pieces of advice you’ll receive is to have a home survey carried out before you exchange contracts. There are three different types of survey reports – the Condition Report, HomeBuyer Report and Building Survey – and it’s worth understanding the benefits and limitations of each.

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Is a Homebuyers Survey Worth It?

If you’re new to buying property, you might be surprised to learn that such a significant purchase as a home comes without the protections given by law to much smaller items. The Consumer Rights Act, which requires any product or service to be of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose, does not apply to the sale of houses and flats.

Sadly, this means that if something goes wrong further down the line, and the property requires unexpected and extensive repairs, there may not be much you can do. It’s also the reason every buyer is strongly advised to commission a professional property surveyor before contracts are exchanged.

The first thing to remember is that you should never rely on your mortgage valuation alone. This is a report produced purely for the benefit of your lender, aimed at confirming what the property is worth and whether there are any serious defects, which would render it unsuitable as security against your loan. A mortgage valuation generally only involves a brief inspection and may not reveal a multitude of issues that you really need to know about.

Read our essential home buyers survey checklist and find out which type of report is right for you when moving home.

What are the benefits of a home buyers survey?

It is far better to commission a survey of the property you intend to purchase. This must be carried out by a qualified surveyor, preferably a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), who will be covered by professional indemnity insurance.

If the property you are interested in is unusual or unique in any way, try to find a surveyor with knowledge of that type of building.

You will need to decide how detailed you would like the report to be. While your choice of survey may be dictated by your budget, be aware that stretching your finances to obtain a detailed survey might pay off. Any defects it brings to light could enable you to negotiate a reduction in the purchase price or save you a fortune further down the line.

There are three types of survey to choose from.

1. RICS Condition Report

The RICS Condition Report uses a traffic light system to describe the condition of the property. It identifies risks and potential legal issues and will highlight any defects which urgently require attention. This type of survey can cost as little as £250 and is most suitable for new-builds and conventional homes, which are clearly in good condition. The report will not offer advice or provide a valuation.

2. RICS Homebuyer Report

Introduced in 2009, the RICS Homebuyer Report will reveal most major issues with a property. It does have limitations, though; the surveyor will not look behind furniture or lift flooring. The survey will probably be supplied with caveats, limiting the liability of the surveyor, which could be an issue if you do later discover a major problem.

Homebuyer Report

The Homebuyer Report is best suited to conventional properties which are less than 150 years old and will cost you from £400. It will include:

  • an assessment of the location
  • the estimated cost of rebuilding the property for insurance purposes
  • an assessment of any drainage or damp-proofing in the building
  • the condition of timbers and whether rot or woodworm is present
  • the identification of subsidence or damp
  • information highlighting urgent problems that require attention
  • details of faults in easy-to-access parts of the property that could affect its value

Some Home Surveys include a property valuation. This, and any problems identified, could be used to negotiate a lower purchase price.

3. RICS Building Survey

The RICS Building Survey is the most comprehensive choice but it is also the most expensive. However, it could be an excellent investment. It is also known as a full structural survey.

The surveyor will conduct a full assessment of the property, both internally and externally and the report could be a lengthy document. It will cover everything from subsidence to invasive weeds and will highlight repairs and maintenance, which you will have to undertake. It will explain what could happen if you don’t carry out the repairs and might also include an estimate of the costs involved.

A full building survey would certainly be the best choice if you are considering buying an older property, one which has been renovated or a home requiring major work.

Unlike a Homebuyer Report, it will not adhere to a standard format. Instead, the surveyor will tailor the assessment to the individual property and include anything which you specifically ask him or her to look at.

However, an RICS Building Survey does use a simple a clear presentation style and a 1, 2, 3 rating system to make it easier for you to interpret the information.

On average, the Building Survey will cost approximately £400-£600, though it can be more depending on the size of the property.

What do surveyors look for in a homebuyers survey?

defects of property

You can expect the survey to cover the following:

  • the estimated cost of rebuilding the property for insurance purposes
  • all defects of the property and its general structural integrity
  • the results of tests for damp in the walls
  • an assessment of woodworm, dry rot and any other damage to timbers
  • the condition of existing insulation and damp-proofing
  • information on the materials used to build the property
  • the identification of invasive weeds and their location
  • the condition of the electrics
  • recommendations for further investigations on the property

New-build snagging survey

A snagging survey for a new-build property is an independent inspection which you can commission to look for any issues with a new property before you buy it. This will enable you to insist that the developers fix any faults before you move in.

To recap: How Much Does A Homebuyers Survey Cost?

  • An RICS Condition Report may cost upwards of £250.
  • The RICS HomeBuyer’s Report may cost upwards of £350.
  • The Home Condition Survey can cost upwards of £400.
  • On average, the RICS Building Survey will cost approximately £400-£600, though it can be more depending on the size of the property.
  • The New-build snagging survey can cost upwards of £300, but cost will largely depend on the size of the property.

How long does a building survey take to come back?

A Building Survey involves an in-depth investigation of a property’s condition, which means it can take up to a day to complete and it may be two weeks before you receive your final report.

However, it may well be worth the wait; by digging deeper into the current state of the property, and its history, a Building Survey can uncover any structural problems that would otherwise be missed.

For your peace of mind

When you are looking to buy a house, there is so much to think about and the process can be stressful. You might feel that having to find a surveyor is a complication you could do without. But a survey provides greater peace of mind and could save you a lot of time, money and heartache.

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, M&M Property provides a tailored, efficient and professional service and we are proud of our outstanding reputation. To find out more, contact us today.