Different Types Of House Survey: What Do They Mean?

types of house survey

Getting a property surveyed can be a difficult and confusing process, with there being many different types of house survey available, with each survey having a different purpose and meaning.

Trying to decide on which type of property survey you should go for isn’t easy, which is why we’re going to explain what each type of survey is, what it does and when you should choose it.

We’re also going to cover the costs, the length of time it takes and whether getting a house survey is always a good idea…

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What is a house survey?

A house survey is an inspection of a property’s condition by an expert. Some house surveys involve the expert to identify problems with a property for a potential buyer whereas others are to establish the value of a property for a mortgage valuation.

For a home survey, you need to make sure the surveyor carrying out the inspection is qualified and therefore a member of one of these accrediting bodies:

  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor (RICS)
  • Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA)

Types of house survey

There are many different types of house survey and which one you require will depend on what you’re needing the house survey for. If you’re buying an old house that looks to be in poor condition you will need a more detailed survey compared to a mortgage valuation survey.

Level 1 – Condition Report

The condition report is varied out by a RICS surveyor and is the most basic level of the different types of house survey available.

The idea of this report is it will highlight any defects or faults with the property and let you know of any legal issues you may face once you have bought the property. You will receive a ‘traffic light system’ verdict for each different aspect of the property – with green being in good condition to red meaning it needs repairing ASAP.

Level 2 – HomeBuyers Report

This type of property survey is more detailed in comparison to level 1, with it including everything a condition report does plus extras.

This survey is still slightly ‘surface level’ compared to a level 3 survey but will check for structural issues and any problems which could affect the property’s value, such as damp.

This type of property survey can be carried out just as a survey or also include a valuation, which buyers tend to go for to check they’re not overpaying for the property.

A great aspect of this type of survey is it doesn’t only highlight the issues, but also offer recommendations and advice on what can be done to deal with any faults that are found.

Level 2 – Home Condition Survey

The home condition report is carried out by an RSPA surveyor and has a more ‘customer-friendly’ report, making it easier for buyers to understand. The condition survey includes pictures to back up their inspection of the property and it’s verified by a separate surveyor to ensure the survey provides accurate and quality advice.

Level 3 – Building Survey

The level 3 building survey is the most detailed and thorough of all the different types of house survey and is generally used on older properties or those which are in visibly bad condition.

The survey includes an analysis of the building’s structural condition, checking under floorboards, between walls and behind furniture.

Alongside the report, buyers are given in-depth recommendations for repairs and will give you an idea of expected timescales and costs.

New Build Snagging Survey

A snagging survey is purely used in new build properties and are designed to check for problems. The best time for a snagging survey is between building work completion and your legal completion, so any issues can be fixed by the developer before you move in.

However, a snagging survey can be done any time within the first two years of living in a new build and the developer has to repair any defects free of charge.

You, as the homeowner, can also create a ‘snagging list’ and keep a list of problems that you come across when living in the property. If you notice something major but have lived in the property for more than two years, you will be able to make a claim under the 10-year NHBC warranty.

Mortgage Valuation Survey

A mortgage valuation survey will be carried out by a RICS surveyor and will take into account different things compared to the other types of house survey. A mortgage valuation will look at:

  • A property’s condition
  • Supply and demand of properties in the local area
  • Sold house prices locally for similar properties
  • The current state of the property market (i.e. whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market)

The outcome of the survey will be an idea of the value of the property for your mortgage lender, so they can confidently lend on the property, knowing they will be able to make their money back.

What is the best survey to get when buying a house?

Unfortunately, there’s no straight answer to this question, as it will entirely depend upon your needs and the condition of the property you’re purchasing.

However, if you’re buying a house that isn’t too old and doesn’t look to be in bad condition, then we suggest a level 2 survey, specifically a HomeBuyers Report.

You don’t need to include the valuation option in this survey, but it will give a pretty good idea of the condition of all aspects of the property and any defects which may need repair.

How long does a house survey take?

The length of time taken will depend on the level of home survey chosen and the size of the property being surveyed, but it will take no longer than a day, with the average time being between 2 to 5 hours.

There’s some extra work for the surveyor to do after a survey has been conducted, so you won’t get the results immediately, but it shouldn’t take longer than a week or two to get the results, depending upon how busy the surveyor is.

House survey cost

As you may expect the cost of your house survey will vary depending upon the location, size and type of property.

The table below will give you a rough idea of the sort of price you should be expecting to pay:

 Level of report Price = £100,000 – £249,000 Price = £250,000 – £349,000 Price = £350,000 – £499,000 Price = £500,000 to £1million
 Level 1 £500 £600 £700 £950
 Level 2 £500-£600 £600-£700 £700-£800 £1,000
 Level 3 £700-£750 £800-£900 £900-£1,100 £1,500

Figures taken from ‘Which?’

A new-build snagging survey will tend to cost between £300 to £600 and a mortgage valuation survey will cost between £150 to £800, with the possibility of it costing £1,500, if you’re buying an expensive property.

What’s the difference between a house survey and a mortgage valuation?

There are many key differences between a house survey and a mortgage valuation.

Firstly, a mortgage valuation is an essential step if you’re buying a house with the help of a mortgage. A home survey, however, is an optional step for buying a property, as it’s purely for the buyer’s benefit and therefore the buyer’s choice as to whether or not they want a survey.

Another key difference is that a mortgage valuation is used to determine the value of the property, to ensure that a bank will be able to get their money back and that their investment is worthwhile. Whereas a house survey is a detailed assessment of the condition of the property but includes no information on the value of the property.

A valuation is also far less detailed when compared to a house survey, as it just gives the basic detail of what the property is worth. A house survey will go into detail about the property’s condition, defaults, repairs that need to be done and their costs.

Is a house survey always a good idea?

There is no NEED for you to get a home buyers survey, as it’s purely for your own benefit. However, more often than not they are a good idea, as they can help you to avoid unwanted and unexpected surprises and can help to give you peace of mind.

A house survey can also be beneficial when it comes to negotiation tactics, as if a property has a lot of faults or an expensive defect, then you can ask for a sum of the agreed sold price to be knocked off to make up for the expenses you will need to cover.

If you’re using a mortgage to buy a house, however, you will have to have a mortgage valuation survey, as it’s for your lender’s benefit and they will want to limit their risk.

Well, that’s everything you need to know about the different types of house survey, including what each survey does, what they cost and whether or not you actually NEED one. Do you have a question? Or maybe you have some insight to give? Get in touch with us today!


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Millie is a perfectionist with a passion for property and writing articles. You’ll find her researching the latest housing trends and the newest up and coming areas worth investing in.

About Millie Archer 110 Articles
Millie is a perfectionist with a passion for property and writing articles. You'll find her researching the latest housing trends and the newest up and coming areas worth investing in.

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