FAQs - Which type of survey would you be most at home with?

Buying a new place – whether it’s your first time or that next step up the property ladder – can feel scary. So it's only common sense to check out properly what you'll get for your money. 

In our series of FAQs, we hope to answer the big questions you ask when planning a move. Here we look at the different types of building surveys you can appoint.

Our advice would be to appoint a surveyor, and members of RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors), they will provide you with accurate, independent advice, helping you make the right decisions before you buy a property. You'll discover there are actually 3 types of surveys when it comes to buying a residential property.

Which of the three types of survey is right for you will depend on a number of factors - in particular, the age and type of property you are buying. Ultimately, it's your decision; but here we explain the choices you face.

What are the different types of surveys?

Valuation report: a brief report intended primarily to help your mortgage lender assess whether a property is worth the price being paid for it.    
Home-buyers survey: a more thorough survey, designed to provide home-buyers with fairly detailed information on their new property, at an affordable price.  
Full building survey: a really comprehensive report, covering virtually every aspect of your new home’s condition in considerable detail. Suited to all property types - but especially larger and older houses. Let's take a look at each in a little more detail

home valuation report
What does a Valuation report cover?

A valuation report is a minimum requirement when you are buying a new home with a mortgage. Its most often used to help your lender assess whether the property is worth the price you are paying for it. But it's important to understand that it's only an overview - which tells you very little about the underlying condition of the building, and any potential problems you may face in the future. It's also used for the following purposes: 

  • Matrimonial court purposes

  • Probate & Inheritance planning

  • Shared equity sale/purchase purposes

  • Resale of Government ' First-time buyers' schemes

  • Relocation purposes

homebuyers reportWhat's included in a Homebuyers report (Major defects survey)?

Much more detailed than a valuation report, this type of survey will help you make an informed decision on whether to buy, and whether you are paying a reasonable price. It can also give you a warning of any work that may need to be done after you move in - helping you budget for future costs. 
Also known as a major defects survey, it gives you red, amber, and green traffic light ratings, to describe the overall state of the property.

You'll get details of all urgent defects and issues in need of attention, with advice for your property lawyers on anything they should address. Your home-buyer's report will also include a valuation report. We'd recommend a home-buyer's report for most types of homes built within the last 100 - 150 years, and seems to be in reasonable condition.

Covered by your home-buyer's report:

  • Chimney stacks, roof coverings, rainwater fittings

  • Main walls, external joinery 

  • Roof spaces, roof structure

  • Ceilings, walls, and partitions

  • Floors, fireplaces

  • Internal joinery including kitchen

  • Bathroom fittings

  • Services, heating & hot water

  • Garage & outbuildings

  • Site & The location

  • Issues for your legal advisers

  • Valuation, Insurance reinstatement figure

When would you commission a Full building survey?

If the property you are planning to buy is over 150 years old, or if it's unusual, in poor condition, or has undergone major reconstruction or alteration, we would strongly advise you to consider a full building survey. 
This is the most comprehensive - and therefore the most expensive - type of survey. But it's the only way to ensure that you have really thorough and detailed information on every aspect of your new home's construction and condition, as well as clear advice on future repair and maintenance requirements. 

Covered by your Building survey:

  • Chimneys, roof spaces, roof structure, covering, valleys

  • Rainwater fittings

  • Main walls, damp proof course, subfloor ventilation

  • External joinery, external decoration

  • Ceilings, internal walls, partitions 

  • Fireplaces, flues, chimney breasts

  • Floors, internal joinery and kitchen fittings

  • Internal decoration

  • Cellars/basements 

  • Dampness, timber decay, infestation 

  • Insulation

  • Services, drainage, sanitary fittings 

  • Garage and outbuildings, grounds, boundaries, trees

  • Wayleaves, easements, and rights of way

  • Planning and environmental matters 

  • Fire, smoke detection, security

So there we are, we hope you found this useful. Please get in touch if you would like to know more, or, if you do need a survey right now we would be happy to make arrangements, whatever survey type you require.

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