Nervous About Your Home Buyers Survey? - A Guide to Home Buyers Surveys and Reports

Buying a new home is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make and is also one of the most stressful things you will ever do. If you are a first time buyer it can be even more difficult. And the industry doesn’t make it easy. 

So much jargon, estate agents for one thing, solicitors for another, then there’s the mortgage broker or bank to contend with – all before you get to the tricky decision of whether to spend yet more money on a survey. Not least, which survey to have.

Collier Stevens Chartered Surveyors try our hardest to make things easier for you though. There’s no doubt when you buy your first home that you should have a survey or homebuyer report undertaken – even if it is a new-build when a snagging survey may be useful

And we know how nerve wracking it can be waiting for the surveyor report. For an inexperienced first time buyer, the homebuyer survey is a completely unknown entity. But many of our clients are nervous about the house survey so we get our report to you as quickly as possible. And if there is anything of serious concern we will let you know right away before we send a full report. 

What types of home buyers survey are there?

There are two main surveys:

How do I decide between a full building survey and a homebuyer report?

When money is being spent left, right, and centre, everyone’s preferred option is to go for the cheaper survey – the homebuyer report. However, these are a more limited survey to the full building survey. If you are buying an older property, we always recommend a full building survey.

The full building survey (a level 3 report) is recommended for larger or older properties, or if you’re planning major works. This is the most comprehensive report and includes an in-depth analysis of the property’s condition, including advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options.

A Homebuyer report is most suitable for conventional properties built in the last 50 years or so (since around 1970) and which are in reasonable condition. The report will describe the condition of the property, identify any risks and potential legal issues and highlights any urgent defects. It also includes advice on defects that may affect the value of the property with repairs. This is a lower-priced service, the inspection and report are less detailed and briefer than a building survey.

Factors Included Homebuyers Report

(Level 2)

Building Survey

(Level 3)

Completed by a RICS Accredited Surveyor. Yes Yes
Includes an inspection. Yes Yes
Identifies problems that could help with price negotiations. Yes Yes
Includes a report on construction, building materials and structural defects. No Yes
Provides a condition rating of the property. Yes Yes
Allows buyers to be fully informed of the property’s condition. Yes Yes
Highlights issues needing urgent attention. Yes Yes
Provides advice for your legal advisers. Yes Yes
Provides professional advice from the surveyor. Yes Yes
Provides a reinstatement cost for insurance purposes. Yes No
Includes a market valuation. Yes No
Outlines repair options and possible consequences of ignoring the issues. No Yes
Suitable for any property type. No Yes

The following examples give you an idea of what to expect with each report and the difference between the amount of information provided in each:

Do I need a survey for a flat?

When you are buying a flat, (basement, ground floor, mid-level or penthouse), you can still have a survey or homebuyer report. The latter is the most appropriate in most cases.

When we look at a flat, we are not just looking at the living space you are investing in. We look at communal areas as well, inside and out. Outside we will look at the roof, chimney stacks, guttering, main walls, windows, doors, joinery and other finishes/features. Inside we will check the stairs, lift, doors, floorings and other shared fixtures and fittings. We also look at risks such as fire safety and how sound travels through the building.

We have found significant problems for people looking to purchase flats and they are not limited to the confines of the flat itself. These are generally the same as you would find in a survey of a house – problems with the roof, or pointing, windows, staircases, etc. For this flat, we found issues with fire and sound separation and the buyer chose not to go ahead…

We recommend that any type of property have a survey before you commit to buying.

A survey can actually save you money

And a final word from Steven Way, Collier Stevens Practice Principal: “We have found that we regularly save our clients’ money through the surveys we provide. Every survey identifies something that the vendor was unaware of and this can sometimes mean knocking the selling price down and saving more money than you have spent on the survey.”

We’ve published a variety of articles about the different types of survey available and you read more here:

Take a look at some examples of our building surveys. If you would like a survey or Homebuyer report in the Kent and London area, get in touch with us for a free, no obligation quote.

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