A property survey is an inspection conducted by a surveyor to reveal issues with a property (if any).
Property surveys offer many benefits for people with plans to buy property, like helping them dodge a costly bullet. In contrast, it’s a good idea to know how a property survey can impact your asking price if you’re selling property.
What is The Point of a Property Survey?
It is to learn about the state a property is in. When you invite a professional surveyor to do a survey, they can uncover any issues the property has that you may not notice during negotiations. Here are a few ways the results of the surveyor’s inspection can help you:
- Make a Buying Decision: If you find that the repairs needed are extensive and costly, you can decide whether to move forward with the property or not.
- Get a Fair Deal: Once you learn about the defects the property has and are fine with sorting them out, you can renegotiate the property’s price with the seller.
- Prevent Foreseeable Costly Repairs: Getting a property survey means you won’t be caught unawares by any unforeseen damage once you move into the property.
Getting your property surveyed can save you money down the line.
What is the Importance of a Property Survey?
Property surveys are important because they help you spot any issues (structural or otherwise) with the property you want to buy or sell.
If you don’t invite a chartered property surveyor to do an inspection before moving into or selling a property, it could cost you in the long run.
You’ll need a property survey in the following instances:
- When You’re Ready to Buy a Property: This timing is essential because UK law will view your agreement with the seller as legally binding. Once you exchange signed contracts and pay the 10% deposit, you’ll be contracted to buy the property.
- When You’re Ready to Sell a Property: If you’re selling an old property, you’ll want to know whether it has significant defects and problems. The presence of structural issues and the like can affect your property’s sale value.
What are The Different Kinds of Property Surveys?
There are four types of property surveys in the UK, which are:
A condition report is the shortest, most-limited, and cheapest property survey you can do.
These surveys are best for home buyers or sellers of flats, conventional houses, or bungalows that are in reasonable condition. They typically last one to two hours, and the surveyor rates the specific parts of the house using a traffic light system.
You may sometimes hear a surveyor refer to these reports as RICS Home Survey Level 1s. RICS stands for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveys, which is the governing body that regulates UK property surveyors.
A HomeBuyer report is a detailed property survey that identifies any hazards or damage present in a property. They last roughly two to four hours (depending on the property’s size).
These reports culminate with an estimate of how long it will take to repair any damage discovered and how much the repair work will cost. While surveying the property, the surveyor won’t drill any holes, inspect the walls or flooring closely, or move furniture around.
As the buyer or seller of the property, you have the option of adding a valuation to these reports. The valuation will give you an idea of what the property is worth. Surveyors sometimes call HomeBuyer reports RICS Survey Level 2s.
A new-build snagging survey is a survey meant for newly-built homes.
This survey involves inspecting a new property to examine its workmanship and comparing it to established standards. They can be brief and confined to checking for cosmetic defects or extensive and entail a thorough examination of the property.
Upon completing their inspection, the surveyor will give you a snag list, a document comprising all the defects discovered. Since the RICS hasn’t set a specific template, the list varies, with some surveyors going as far as to include photographic evidence.
A Building or Full Structural survey is the most detailed property survey available. Surveyors conduct these surveys on old properties, and will take roughly eight to ten hours to complete them. During that time, the surveyor will inspect the property thoroughly, including its flooring and loft.
You can expect to find the following items in your surveyor’s building survey:
- Potential defects and hazards in the sections not inspected
- The possible causes of these hazards
- Details about the scope of work necessary to fix the damage identified
- The time frame for carrying out repairs
Your surveyor can also include estimates of what it’ll cost to repair any damage in their report. You’ll have to agree with them beforehand to bundle this service.
A residential property survey is a survey done on residential property.
In 2022, HM Revenue and Customs provided a definition for residential properties in a Residential Property Development Tax Manual. The UK government agency stated that residential property comprises of “buildings or parts of buildings that are to form a dwelling together with the garden or grounds, as well as land intended for such use.
Going by the above definition, you can consider flats, bungalows, duplexes, or other buildings built with the intention of housing people. As such, a survey done on such properties is a residential survey.
A commercial property survey is an inspection done on commercial property.
HM Revenue and Customs describe commercial properties in this stamp duty land tax article by citing “shops or offices” as examples. We can also consider farms, factories, and warehouses to be commercial properties since their main purpose is to create or house goods with commercial value.
Thus, we can take it to mean that commercial property surveys are meant for properties that are used to conduct business.
Property survey costs vary depending on your chosen survey type. You’ll also need to consider factors like the surveyor’s quote, the property’s market price, its size, and so on.
|Property Survey Type||Lowest Price Range||Highest Price Range|
|Condition Report Cost||£290||£560|
|HomeBuyer Report Cost||£325||£900|
|New-Build Snagging Survey Cost||£300||£600|
|Building or Full Structural Survey Cost||£630||£1,200|
How Do You Hire a Property Surveyor?
The quickest way to hire a trustworthy property surveyor is to visit the RICS firms website. You can find a surveyor by following the steps below:
- Visit https://www.ricsfirms.com/.
- Click the “Get a Home Survey” button on the home page.
- Fill in the town or its postcode into the search bar and press “Enter”.
- The site should present a list of surveyors along with their websites, email addresses, and phone numbers.
- Choose a surveyor, contact them, and set up a survey.
Alternatively, you can skip steps two and three above by entering a town or postcode into the search bar on the site’s home page.
Anyone who has the skills and knowledge can do a property survey. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors states as much in the FAQ section of this article.
There’s no need for a surveyor to earn a university degree that qualifies them as such, nor do they need to be a chartered RICS surveyor. They can call themselves a surveyor as long as they know the job and have possibly earned their knowledge from a surveying apprenticeship.
However, we advise that you hire a chartered RICS surveyor. These professionals hold themselves to the highest standards and are regulated by an internationally recognised body.
You can conduct a property survey yourself as long as you have the required know-how. For example, it’s rare for a surveyor to hire another to survey his or her property.
With that said, we recommend hiring a professional if you don’t have the requisite knowledge to do a proper survey.
Professional surveyors know how to do comprehensive property inspections that unearth costly hazards. These people are also skilled enough to do their jobs without causing additional destruction to property or injuring themselves or others.
Once the property survey ends, the surveyor will create a report. How long it takes for you to receive the report will vary and depend on the survey type you arranged.
If the surveyor returns with a report revealing extensive repairs are necessary, you can:
- Ask labourers for quotes on the repair costs
- Renegotiate a lower price with the property’s seller
- Walk away from the deal
However, if the survey reveals structurally sound property, you can go ahead and sign the contracts and make other arrangements to buy.
Property surveys don’t cover the following:
- neighbouring properties
- state amenities like roads and street lamps
In other words, anything that falls outside of the property’s grounds or goes past an existing party wall is beyond the scope of a property survey.
What are the Rules and Laws for Property Surveys in the UK?
The Housing and Planning Act 2016 grants rights to and imposes obligations on property surveyors.
By virtue of section 172 of the Act, a surveyor has the right to enter a property for the purpose of surveying it on behalf of a buyer (the acquiring authority).
However, subsection two of the section restricts their entry to “a reasonable time”, and subsection three forbids the use of force except when the surveyor is in possession of a warrant.
It’s not necessary to do regular property surveys. A Full Structural Report can remain valid for years, if not decades, once completed. The only exception is when you plan to remortgage the property, in which case, you may have to do a property survey to show proof of its value.
You do. As with any property purchase, you’ll want to know that the property you’re buying is in top form and won’t cost you money down the line. Also, you need to consider that you’re buying a rental property to make an income from it, and you wouldn’t want constant repairs eating into your rental income.
It does. If a surveyor produces an unsatisfactory report, the buyer may push for you to lower your asking price.
This reasoning is understandable, given that your property has been revealed to have structural issues and damage that will cost the buyer money to repair.
In contrast, a clean property survey report can bolster your confidence that your asking price is fair and reasonable. The report will also prevent calls for renegotiation.
Some of the most common problems a property survey will uncover are:
- Faulty drainage pipes
- Electrical and wiring issues
- Termites or woodworm infestations
- Roofing issues
- Building movement
These issues may vary in severity and can affect how much repairs will cost.
Are you ready to purchase your first property? Get in touch with a property surveyor before putting your money down.
You need to get a property survey done if you plan to make an informed buying decision. Otherwise, you’re likely to incur repair costs in the future that you could’ve discovered before purchasing the property.