Which Property Survey Do I Need?

House surveys are important when it comes to buying a property. They enable you to gain a better understanding of the property, and foresee any potential problems in the future. There are various types of surveys out there, and choosing the right one for the property you’re buying can be confusing. To help out, our mortgage specialists have prepared this short overview explaining everything you need to know.

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What is a property survey?

A property survey is an inspection of a house or flat’s condition by a professional surveyor. They will visit the property and investigate it at the thoroughness required, before preparing a report summarising their findings. They are typically carried out after an offer has been accepted on a property, but before exchange of contracts. When instructing someone to carry out one of these surveys, it’s essential you make sure they’re a member of either:

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

What are the different types of property surveys?

There are a few different types of property surveys available. Let’s go through the different levels in more detail to help you understand which one might suit your property.

RICS home survey – Level 1.

This is a very general survey that is only really suitable for properties that are conventional, modern, and build from common materials. This type of survey is intended to confirm that everything is good with the property, rather than uncover more deep rooted issues. It uses traffic lights to explain the property’s condition and highlights issues without going into great detail.

RICS home survey – Level 2 or RPSA home condition survey.

This is the mid-level option, and it’s the one that tends to be suitable for most properties. This survey is similar to the level 1 survey, but it will go into greater detail. The surveyor will identify potential problems in the future which might affect the property’s value, along with some recommended remedial action and guidance on what maintenance might be required. It will also explore damp and subsidence and highlight anything that doesn’t adhere to building regulations. However, it’s still a non-intrusive survey and as such will only cover surface issues.

RICS home survey – Level 3 or RPSA building survey.

This is the most in-depth level of survey, and it will explore the property’s structure and condition in comprehensive detail including roof space and services. This is the best choice if your property is older than 50 years, in poor condition, or is non-standard in any way in terms of design, structure, or materials. If you’re planning on conducting significant work on the property following purchase, it’s also a good idea to choose this option.

This survey will be intrusive and involve a full exploration of everything from potential legal issues to building material performance to urgent structural problems to the consequences of not acting on repairs. It aims to help you determine whether additional surveys may be required before becoming legally bound to the purchase.

Which property survey do I need?

The right survey for the property you’re buying will depend upon various factors including the age and condition of the property you’re buying. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice if you’re still not sure!

You may also require additional specialist reports if your initial surveys uncover a serious issue that needs further exploration such as rot, asbestos, or Japanese knotweed. To find out more about the different types of specialist surveys available, read our short guide.

If your property survey has uncovered a serious issue with your home and you’re concerned about the implications for your mortgage, give our friendly team a call. There are lenders out there who will still consider your application, and we can help you find them!

Emma Jones

Emma began her career in Lloyds Banking Group, first in the unsecured loans department at HSBC and later as a mortgage advisor at Lloyds. During 9 years in these roles and a further 2 years at Yorkshire Building Society, Emma was able to observe the impact of the recession, and how the the banks let their customers down by denying loans and mortgages.

Wanting to be a driving force for change, she stepped into a market advice role where she has been able to help clients when others couldn’t. Identifying a gap in the mortgage space, Emma went on to establish When the Bank Says No. As a keen property investor, she has been the focus of features in publications including The Sunday Times and This is Money.

Emma’s greatest joy is overcoming the low expectations of their customers, many of whom have all but given up on getting a mortgage due. Emma and her team’s passion for helping people overcome the challenges they may face when applying for a mortgage have fuelled the success of When the Bank Says No.

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