How to choose the right survey
Updated: Jul 27
Knowing Which Survey is Right for You and Your Property
When dealing with property, it can be difficult to know who to trust, what to do, and which path to take - particularly when it comes to surveying. We might be biased, but we think making sure you choose to get a survey - and which one to choose - is one of the most important decisions you can make. This blog is intended to help you to make that choice!
When it comes to making important decisions about your property, having accurate information is crucial. That's where surveys come in – they provide valuable insights into the condition and value of a property. In this guide, we'll help you navigate the process of choosing the right survey for your needs, ensuring that you make an informed decision and employ a professional with real expertise.
Before reading this, you might want to have a read of our blog about the RICS. If you've seen that already, keep reading!
Firstly, it would help to describe the main types of survey that you can choose from. You may think that your bank will be arranging a survey for you - that is usually incorrect. Even if a surveyor visits a property on behalf of the bank, they are doing so simply to ensure that the valuation of the property is sufficient to manage the bank's risk, which doesn't usually include its condition or potential upcoming problems. And increasingly, many banks are relying on Desktop Valuations or Automated Valuation Models (AVM), where a surveyor either reviews the property using digital tools such as Google Maps or a computer system estimates the market value.
Building Surveys (RICS Level 3)
A Building Survey is the most comprehensive, non-intrusive survey option available. It examines the property in detail, covering everything from the structural integrity to the condition of the roof, walls, and floors. This type of survey is particularly recommended for older properties, unique buildings, or properties that have undergone significant alterations.
Home Survey (RICS Level 2) - formerly known as a HomeBuyer Report
A RICS Level 2 Home Survey is a standardised survey with traffic light condition ratings designed to provide an overall assessment of a property's condition. It focuses on significant defects that may affect the property’s value, making it an ideal choice for more modern properties or those in reasonable condition. RICS registered Surveyors perform the Level 2 Home Surveys, giving you peace of mind with their professional expertise.
There are times where an independent, verifiable valuation is required - whether for a private sale, tax calculations or life changes, such as divorce or probate. In these instances, a RICS registered Surveyor and Valuer will attend the property and make an impartial assessment of its value by considering a range of factors, including the sale prices of similar properties in your area.
Help to Buy Valuation
A Help to Buy Valuation is very similar but is used only in relation to properties which have been purchased making use of the Target / HCA Help to Buy scheme. It is important to ensure that your Help to Buy Valuation is approved by the scheme and will be accepted by Target / HCA.
Home Energy Report
Increasingly popular, this type of survey focusses on the Energy Efficiency of a property, and makes recommendations on how to reduce bills, improve efficiency and make the property warmer through the winter.
When making your decision about which survey to choose, we think there are three key elements to consider:
Property type and age: The age, size, and construction of your property play a vital role in selecting the appropriate survey. Older properties or those with unique characteristics may require a more comprehensive survey, such as a Building Survey, but it's important that you don't pay for a service you don't need. We wouldn't usually recommend a Building Survey if your property was built in the last 20 years, for example - a Level 2 Home Survey would usually be sufficient.
Specific concerns: If you have specific concerns about your property, such as potential damp or subsidence issues, it is important to discuss these issues when you're booking your survey, to ensure that the surveyor will be able to address them adequately during the survey or mange your expectation pre survey.
Your circumstances: Whilst you are employing a surveyor to make an assessment of your property, it is important to make sure they are providing the right report for you. If you are conscious about reducing energy bills, it would be worth you considering a Home Energy Report. If you are looking to omplete an extension in the future, you may need to ask for specialist advice. Consider what you will be looking to achieve with your property, and how a surveyor may be able to help.
Choosing the right survey is a crucial decision to help you get a full understanding of your property's condition. There are many factors to consider. If you would prefer to talk to an expert about which survey would be right for you and your property, please don't hesitate to give our excellent team a call. They will be happy to talk you through and to help you to make the right choice.