Property Survey Types Explained

Property Survey Types Explained

Once you have started the process of buying a property you will need to think about what kind of survey you want to undertake on the property.  Learn about the main survey types and find out which is kind is right for you.

Mortgage Valuation

If you are buying the house with a mortgage, there will be, as a minimum, a mortgage valuation required on the property, this will be arranged via your lender.

A mortgage valuation is the most basic of reports and is only designed to ensure that the lender’s risk is minimised in terms of the amount of mortgage against the overall value of the property (Loan to Value or LTV). This type of survey is usually fairly quick to complete with some lenders even allowing these to be done without the surveyor even visiting the property.  Cost will vary from lender to lender and are often worked out as a percentage of the subject property’s value.

Remember… This type of report is undertaken on behalf of the mortgage company and is unlikely to be adequate, in itself, to assess the condition of the property and any issues with the structure.

Basic Condition Report

A basic condition report is the most basic kind of survey you can commission for a property and is generally speaking only recommended for buildings which are uncomplicated, built from traditional materials and in good condition.  It is often a good choice for a newer property. The report will show the condition of the various areas of the property and give clear traffic light ratings.   It will also outline any risks to the condition of the building and offer advice on planning and building control. A Basic condition report does not usually include a valuation.

This type of report will not go into too much detail regarding the condition of the property – generally commenting only on things which are very obvious (usually to recommend further investigation by a specialist).  The surveyor will not move furniture, look under carpets or flooring.  They will access the loft if possible and safe to do so.   You can download an example of the Basic Condition Report on the RICS website –  http://www.rics.org/Global/Downloads/Condition_report_2016.pdf

Homebuyer Report

A homebuyer report is a mid table survey which offers a more in-depth look at the condition of the property.  A Homebuyer Report offers all the features of the Basic Condition Report with additional information on defects found and how they may affect the value of the property as well as advice on ongoing maintenance and repairs.

This type of report can also include a market valuation of the property and advise on insurance reinstatement costs if required.

The Homebuyer Report is generally recommended for properties of standard construction which are in reasonable condition and offers more of an insight into the property condition.  This may be a better option if the property you are planning to buy is older or has some obvious problems which are going to require work.  A homebuyer report will also offer information about defects or problems which required further investigation to prevent serious damage and legal issues that need to be addressed before completing your conveyancing.   An example of the Homebuyer report format is available as a download

Building Survey

The Building Survey, which may also be referred to as a Structural Survey is the most detailed type of survey and is recommended if the property you are buying is very old, of non-standard construction, extensively altered or in very poor condition.

The building Survey will include a thorough inspection and detailed report on a wider range of issues and look at the structure and fabric of the building.  The survey will aim to provide a description of visible defects in the property as well as potential problems caused by hidden flaws.  They will also outline repair options and the likely consequences of inactivity.

The surveyor will access as many areas of the property as possible and including a more thorough consideration of the roof space, grounds, floors and services.  They will aim to outline how the property is built, what materials are used and how these will perform in the future.  The building survey would not usually include a market valuation or insurance reinstatement cost.  You may be able to ask for this separately.  You could also ask the surveyor to look in detail at specific areas of the property which are of concern, like the condition of a thatched roof and its remaining life for instance.

If you are a purchaser buying through Seddons, or a seller who is buying a property through another estate agent, we will be happy to advise you on the most appropriate type of survey for your property.   Just get in touch for more information.   The RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) website also has a useful download ‘a valuation is not a survey’with a comparison of the different report levels.