What is Included in Each Survey?

By James Brook FRICS on and updated on

Buying a property can be a confusing and stressful experience, and the decisions don’t stop once you’ve had an offer accepted. Arranging the right survey and ensuring you have the best support are vital in helping the process run as smoothly as possible. So, what are your options when it comes to surveys, and what can you expect the surveyor to focus on when carrying out their investigation?

What are the different types of surveys?

When buying a property you’ll probably be choosing between two survey options – a building survey or a HomeBuyer Report, although you may also opt for a snagging list when buying a newbuild.

In most cases, the sensible option will be to opt for a building survey. This much more comprehensive offering, also known as a structural survey, will ensure you have a detailed understanding of the property’s construction and condition. A RICS qualified surveyor will carry it out, so you can be sure it is accurate, impartial and thorough.

A RICS HomeBuyer Report may be suitable if you’re buying a modern house or flat built after 1990, but be aware that even these can hide defects that could be costly to fix.

This Level 2 survey will tell you if the property is safe and habitable and give you an overview of its condition. It is a non-intrusive inspection in which your surveyor will inspect visible areas of the property and highlight any defects.

Any issues identified will be rated by their seriousness using a traffic light system. Green indicates no action is required; amber highlights that defects need repairing but not urgently, and red indicates serious defects requiring urgent attention and repair.

You’ll also receive an easy-to-understand report if you opt for a building survey; however, this will offer much more insight. Expect to receive an assessment of everything from the condition of the main building and any outbuildings and outside areas to checks for insulation, damp and condensation. Visible parts of services, such as electricity, gas, water, heating and draining, will be assessed, and any environmental concerns raised.

Unlike a HomeBuyer Report, a building survey will highlight significant issues and wear and tear defects and explain the implications of these faults. It will examine structural integrity, property build and construction materials in detail and highlight any repairs that have already been made or works that have been carried out.

With Novello’s Private Client Surveying service, the insight doesn’t stop there, however, as we’ll also supply costings estimates for any significant works identified. That way, you’ll know the full implications of any issues, and you can proceed with full clarity rather than being hit with unexpected repair costs further down the road.

What does a surveyor look for when inspecting a property?

Exactly what a surveyor looks for in the property will depend on the survey you opt for, but on the whole, they will be looking at the structural integrity of the property and for any issues that could be a cause for concern. They will also look at the type of materials used in the construction of the property, which will be helpful when it comes to insuring the home.

When carrying out a building survey, your surveyor will assess all accessible parts of the home, including cellars, lofts, behind furniture, windows, doors and external walls.

With Novello’s Private Client Surveying service, we’ll include a detailed roof inspection with high-level cameras or the option for a drone survey. We’ll also provide a floor area measurement so you can be confident the property is exactly as advertised.

The surveyor will look for both wear and tear issues and more serious defects, taking photos so that you can clearly see any areas of concern. Examples of common issues that may be flagged include window seals needing repair, damp staining and cracks in internal and external walls, loose slates on the roof, condensation, blocked guttering, the need for re-pointing, and lack of sub-floor ventilation, rotting woodwork and much more.

What is not included in the survey?

It’s important to note that surveyors will not test electrics or gas. They will check that things like lights, gas hobs and heating work by turning them on, but they are not qualified to test the gas or electrics themselves. They also can’t advise on planning applications such as for a not yet built extension. Also, while they may report possible signs of subsidence, this would not be a guaranteed assessment – you’d need to consult a structural engineer for that.

As a HomeBuyer Report is non-intrusive, it does not include inspection of any more difficult-to-access areas. For example, the surveyor will not move furniture or attempt to lift floor coverings.

The Novello Approach

At Novello, a comprehensive building survey is just part of our Private Client Surveying service. This bespoke offering is tailored to meet your exact needs, with an initial onboarding call designed to ensure we understand any concerns and answer any questions. We’ll then complete the most comprehensive building survey before delivering the results to you promptly. We’ll even meet you at the property to explain our findings if you’d prefer, and we’ll send a summary report to your solicitor, so they’re in the loop too.

Rather than just explaining our findings, however, we make sure you have everything you need to take strategic action based on our report. So, in addition to cost estimates for major defects, we’ll also give you an insurance reinstatement cost assessment. We can put you in touch with specialists who will be able to explore any defects more thoroughly, and we can help with arranging quotations for work that needs to be carried out. Once you’re armed with that information, we’ll even help you devise a renegotiation strategy if required. Using our experience and understanding of the property sector, along with all the supporting evidence from the survey and further investigations, we can help to ensure you don’t overpay for a property.

And, of course, all our surveyors are RICS qualified and highly experienced, plus they only work with a limited number of clients at a time, so they can truly focus on delivering an outstanding service so you can be moving into your new home, with absolute confidence, as quickly as possible.

You may also like

By Dean Merryman AssocRICS on

What to do if you uncover unauthorised alterations on a listed building

Buying a property can be a confusing and stressful experience,…

By Dean Merryman AssocRICS on

Common problems found in Victorian houses

Buying a property can be a confusing and stressful experience,…