The following gives a very brief overview of the different surveys available. When considering the possible purchase of the property the choices are as follows:
- Full Building Survey (most popular survey for most properties).
- Homebuyer Report (previously called a Homebuyer Survey and Valuation).
- Valuation only.
- Structural Inspection (General and Specific).
- Home Condition Survey and RICS Condition Survey
Full Building Survey
A full Building Survey on an average house will cost the order of £300 to £600. It will usually be carried out by a Chartered Surveyor who is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The Surveyor will normally look at the complete property and give a detailed opinion regarding the state of the building. This is probably now the most popular type of report. It is particularly suitable for older properties or properties which have had major alterations over the years or properties which appear to have problems that need further investigation.
Home buyers Report
A Homebuyer Report on an average house will cost in the order of £200 to £400. It will be carried out by a Chartered Surveyor who is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and is licensed to do this work. The Surveyor will normally look at the complete property and give an opinion as to whether or not the house is value for money to the purchaser. A Homebuyer Report is usually suitable if the house is of modern straight forward construction and has not had any major alterations carried out.
The old ‘Homebuyer Survey and Valuation’ report used to be very popular until the RICS informed their members that they could no longer carry it out. This has lead to a lot of confusion. It should be noted that a lot of Surveyors will carry out a report in the style of the old ‘Homebuyer Survey and Valuation’ report usually without the valuation. Talking to your chosen Surveyor about the different options is very much recommended.
A Valuation only survey on an average house will cost the order of £150 to £300. It will usually be carried out by a Chartered General Practice Surveyor. This type of survey is usually done for the benefit of the mortgage lender.
A Probate Valuation will usually be of a similar cost and will be performed in a similar way. It will be commissioned by an executor who wishes to value the property of an estate with reference to his or her obligations to the beneficiaries and any liability for inheritance tax.
A Valuation in the situation of a divorce, or a sale within a family, will also be carried out in a similar way.
General Structural Inspection
A General Structural Inspection on an average house will cost the order of £300 to £600. This will normally be performed by a Chartered Engineer who is a member of the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) or the Institution of Civil Engineers (MICE). Some Chartered Surveyors also carry out these inspections. The inspection will concentrate only on the structural aspects of the building (foundations, walls and roof). It is often useful if the prospective purchaser is intending to carry out a total refurbishment and hence will be replacing the interior decoration and all the services (plumbing, electrics etc).
Specific Structural Inspection
A Specific Structural Inspection is sometimes called for when you have already had some sort of survey and the surveyor has identified a potential structural problem and recommends further investigation. It should be noted that if a Structural Engineer is requested to look at a specific crack in a building then he will not necessarily look at any other part of the building.
Home Condition Survey and RICS Condition Report
A Home Condition Survey has some similarity to a Homebuyer Report but it does not address the question of value. These are carried out by Home Inspectors with the Dip HI qualification who are members of an accreditation scheme operated either by SAVA or the BRE. The RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) have also introduced an equivalent survey called a RICS Condition Report which is carried out by licenced Chartered Surveyor.