Property Surveys: What They Are & How Much They Cost

If you're thinking about buying a house, one of the most important factors to consider is arranging the property survey.  But what exactly is a survey, and how should you go about choosing one? Here's what you need to know.

Property Survey Overview

A property survey is a service carried out by a qualified surveyor where they check over the property you are planning to buy and report back on any problems they find.

There are different levels of surveys, ranging from basic overviews to far more detailed reports of every issue in the property.

You can use the results of the survey to work out how much work your property may need once you have bought it. As a result, you might be able to get the seller to make the repairs themselves or even lower the price of the property. In some cases, you may even decide not to purchase the property.

Do not confuse the property survey with the mortgage valuation survey. You will normally have to pay for this valuation to get a mortgage, but this is just so that the lender knows the property is worth the amount it is lending, and it will not highlight any repairs that are needed.

The 3 Types of Survey

There are three types of survey that you can arrange for your property provided by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS):

  • RICS Condition Report
  • RICS HomeBuyer's Report
  • RICS Building Survey

The RICS Condition Report is the most basic of the three, and this just provides a general overview of the property, highlighting any big issues. This is useful for a modern property or one that is in good condition.

The RICS HomeBuyer's Report goes into more detail and highlights specific problems like subsidence, as well as providing advice on repairs that need making.

The RICS Building Survey is the most thorough and comprehensive survey. It can take up to a day to complete, and it will highlight all the defects, repairs needed and maintenance details. This is a good option for older properties.

How Much Do Surveys Cost?

Surveys range in price depending on the type of survey, the size and value of the house, and the surveyor carrying out the service.

The RICS Condition report is the cheapest, and it should cost between £150 and £300. For the RICS HomeBuyer's Report, you should expect to pay from a few hundred pounds up to about £1,000 for an expensive property.

And for the RICS Building Survey, prices tend to start at around £500 and go up to over £1,000.

Despite the cost, remember that the survey could be a great investment because you may be able to get a large amount taken off the asking price if some problems are discovered.

How to Choose a Surveyor

After you have decided on the type of survey you want, you will need to choose a surveyor. There are a number of factors to consider here, including:

  • Ask about their experience, and especially their experience with similar properties.
  • You may want to look for a good local surveyor with knowledge of the area.
  • Ask for recommendations from your estate agent and solicitor.
  • Search on the RICS website for surveyors.
  • Search for one on the Independent Surveyors & Valuers Association (ISVA).
  • Compare a few quotes to make sure you find the best price.

Do You Need a Survey?

Houses are a huge investment, and you may not be thrilled about spending more money on an extra service that is not a legal requirement. However, a survey can give you peace of mind because you know exactly what you are buying, and it can help you to make a more informed decision about your purchase.

It can also be an excellent investment if you can use it to get the seller to lower the asking price, so it is well worth considering.