What Surveyors Want You to Know Before You Get a Survey

By James Brook FRICS on and updated on

It might seem like getting a survey is as simple as contacting a firm, arranging for someone to visit the property and then waiting for the survey report to be delivered. But did you know that there are several things you can do to make sure you get the most out of your survey – both as a buyer and a seller – and to ensure the surveyor is able to conduct a thorough report that gives everyone the information they need?

Understand the type of survey you’re having

If you’re arranging for a survey on a property you’re hoping to buy, the most important thing you can do is check that the survey you’re having is the one you need.

In the main, there are three levels of survey, each offering varying degrees of insight. These are:

1. Condition Report

This most basic of surveys provides a surface-level assessment of the condition of a property to highlight any obvious defects. This Level 1 survey may be the cheapest option, but it is also the least thorough and doesn’t include a valuation, advice on next steps or cost of repair details.

2. RICS HomeBuyer Report

If you’re buying a modern house or flat built after 1990 that appears in good condition and is worth less than £1,000,000, this Level 2 survey could be an option. After an inspection of the property, a clear, concise report will highlight any defects ensuring the most serious issues are clear to you through a traffic light system. At Novello, we also offer the more insightful HomeLevel Report, which features everything included in the HomeBuyer Report and more, such as a detailed inspection of at least 20 internal and external elements of the property, and free, frank and friendly expert follow-up advice from a RICS-qualified surveyor.

3. Building Survey

The best option for many is a building survey, also known as a structural survey; this is the most in-depth and comprehensive report available and provides a detailed picture of the property’s construction and condition. It will include a thorough inspection of the property, inside and out, highlighting both 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. The survey report will include photos of the defects and explain repair options and costs, helping you to decide on next steps.

At Novello, we offer a standalone building survey and our full advisory Private Client Surveying service. This delivers wrap-around care and advice to help you navigate the buying process easily and ensure you pay a fair price for a property that’s right for you.

If you opt for a Level 1 or Level 2 survey, you must be confident you don’t need the insight and actionable information delivered by a Level 3 building survey. Whichever survey you opt for, it’s also advisable to read the Terms of Engagement the property surveyor gives, as this will tell you what they will and won’t be doing. This should help to avoid any disappointment. Also, remember that as the buyer, you’re responsible for completing the necessary checks before buying your new home, so don’t scrimp on the survey – it could ultimately stop you from making a costly mistake.

Inform the surveyor of any concerns

Ahead of the survey, don’t be afraid to contact your surveyor and let them know of any particular concerns you may have or areas you’d specifically like them to investigate. This is made even easier with Private Client Surveying as we’ll schedule an onboarding call where you can talk your RICS-qualified surveyor through the property, so they’re fully prepared when they arrive on site.

Read the property survey report

When you receive your survey report, it can be tempting to just read the summary or scan for major concerns, but there is a lot of helpful information within the document, so take the time to read it properly. Remember, now is also the time to ask questions. If you don’t understand something, you can speak to your surveyor, or if there’s something that needs follow-up from your solicitor, you’ll find the information in your report. Again, Private Client Surveying offers huge additional benefits here. Not only will your surveyor contact you to explain their findings, but there will also be information and guidance on recommended next steps, such as further investigations.

As a seller, you can also take several steps to help the surveyor complete their work more effectively.

Prepare your home

No doubt you’ll want your home to be clean and tidy when the surveyor arrives, but it’s also a good idea to declutter so they can easily access all the essential areas. Clearing items off windowsills, moving furniture away from walls and making sure spaces such as lofts can be accessed will help the surveyor to produce a more accurate report.

Gather necessary documents

It can also be helpful to have any necessary certificates and documentation. This could include planning permission notices and electric and gas safety certificates. While these may not be essential, they will further highlight that the property has been well looked after.

To get more preparation tips, read our blog How to Prepare your Home for a Building Survey

The Novello Approach

Whether opting for a standalone building survey or the full Private Client Surveying service, you can be sure Novello’s RICS-qualified surveyors will offer a comprehensive, friendly and informative service. In addition to one of the most extensive building surveys on the market, Private Client Surveying provides a whole host of additional benefits, including significant costings estimates, help to organise any further investigations or quotations that may be needed, a reflective valuation that takes into account the actual condition of the property following our survey findings, and advice on a renegotiation strategy if required. You’ll also have a RICS-qualified surveyor on hand to answer questions and offer support whenever needed, helping the entire purchase, not just the survey, to run smoothly and proceed quickly.

To find out more, contact us today or arrange a free consultation.

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