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What is a Condition Report (Level 1 Survey)?

Zenyx Griffiths

Written by Reviewed by Mike Ashton

16th Jul 2019 (Last updated on 30th May 2022) 5 minute read

The Level 1 Survey, formerly known as a Condition Report, provides a basic overview of a property’s condition and the risks it may contain. It is the cheapest and least thorough home survey type available and does not include a valuation.

This is one of the surveys available when purchasing a home and is the most basic of the three most common survey types undertaken.

This article will cover the following:
  1. When Do You Need a Condition Report (Level 1 Survey)?
  2. What’s Covered in this Survey?
  3. What Type of Property is It Suitable For?
  4. How to Read a Condition Report (Level 1 Survey)
  5. What Other Surveys are Available?
  6. Level 1 (Condition Report) vs Level 2 Survey (Homebuyers Survey)
  7. Learn More About Surveying

When Do You Need a Condition Report (Level 1 Survey)?

The Level 1 Survey is a professional short, surface-level inspection of a property to highlight any obvious defects, developed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and designed to make the buyer aware of any major issues before committing to the purchase.

Like other property surveys, it uses a ‘traffic light system’ to highlight any defects or damage to the building that needs attention or future repairs.

It does not include advice, recommendations or the cost of the expected repairs. It also doesn’t include a valuation of the property, which many purchasers find helpful.

What’s Covered in this Survey?

The Level 1 Survey is the most basic survey available and provides a simple overview of the property’s condition. It does not include a valuation and doesn’t provide any advice detailing how to continue with the repair work needed. It only highlights and provides a summary of the property’s defects and the possible risks involved.

It will cover some of the common issues found throughout properties, as well as any obvious surface-level issues. It will also advise on any legal issues that need to be addressed before the transaction is complete. This report also provides the homeowner with information on location, local environment and recorded energy efficiency.

To learn more, read what does a surveyor look for.

What Type of Property is It Suitable For?

The Level 1 Survey is recommended for conventional properties that are new or less than around 5 years old. The property must be in reasonable condition with an easily accessible maintenance history.

This level of survet is not suitable for older buildings, unusually constructed buildings or properties with major known defects.

For a more comprehensive report of the home you are looking to buy, you may want to instruct a surveyor to conduct a Level 2 Survey to inspect the building. For older or unusual properties, the Level 3 Survey may be more suitable.

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How to Read a Condition Report (Level 1 Survey)

Like other RICS surveys, the Level 1 Survey uses a ‘traffic light’ system to highlight the defects found in the property. It’s an easy-to-use system that provides consumers with a basic explanation of what defects and damage need attention. As the name suggests, it is a colour coded system based on three colours: red, amber and green.

Green refers to ‘Condition Rating 1’ and indicates that the area referenced needs no repairs, these should continue to be maintained in a similar way to previously.

Amber refers to ‘Condition Rating 2’ and highlights areas with defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered urgent or serious. These areas are unlikely to impact the overall value of the property but are likely to need some maintenance or repair in time.

Red refers to ‘Condition Rating 3’ and highlights defects that are in need of urgent or serious repair and need to be replaced or investigated urgently. These areas are those that should be seriously considered as part of the overall purchase. They may be areas that make the purchase void, or they may be areas that warrant re-negotiation based on potential repair costs.

Unlike the more comprehensive surveys available, the Level 1 Survey does not provide advice or recommendations for when receiving bad survey results. Once you’ve obtained the report explaining the possible defects, you are then left without a plan of action.

For a more informative inspection with a better explanation of how to continue, it’s recommended to conduct a more detailed survey like the Level 2 or Level 3 Surveys.

What Other Surveys are Available?

Due to its limiting criteria, the Level 1 Survey is not a common survey. It would be wise to explore the alternative property surveys you can have so that you know which is most suitable for you.

Valuation

The RICS Valuation is a very basic inspection that only indicates the value of the property. It’s required when applying for a mortgage and is often needed for changes in shared equity, shared ownership and for various taxation reasons. It will only highlight any obvious significant damage that could affect the value and can be used on any property type. A valuation is not a survey, and must not be treated as one.

    Level 2 Survey

    The Level 2 Survey (Homebuyers Report) is available for many property types, and is suitable for conventional buildings and homes that are fairly modern (typically up to 50 years old). A valuation can be included if required, saving you from extra costs. It’s the most popular and most recommended survey type, and is suitable for flats and houses.

    Level 3 Survey

    A Level 3 Survey (Building Survey) is usually used for higher-risk properties; those that are older than 50 years, are unusually built, made from unusual or non-conventional materials, or buildings that have been or are potentially going to be altered or extended.

    Snagging List

    A Snagging List is not a comprehensive survey, but is simply a list of damage or defects which the builder or developer should complete before the property is ready for handover. It's only suitable for a new-build property to uncover any issues that were missed during construction.

      Level 1 (Condition Report) vs Level 2 Survey (Homebuyers Survey)

      If you’re looking for a mid-priced property survey that provides a thorough report of the property’s condition, it is worth considering the Level 2 Survey. This will provide a much more detailed summary of the condition of the home, allowing you to determine whether it’s a worthwhile investment.

      It is this detail that is lacking in the Level 1 Survey and can be vital to the property transaction as it determines whether the asking price is reasonable compared to the cost of repairs required.

      Compare My Move’s surveying partners are highly experienced and qualified and can conduct a thorough investigation through either a Level 2 or Level 3 Survey. The more professional advice you can obtain and the more informed you are about the property, the more likely it is that you will save money in the long run.

      Learn More About Surveying

      This is part of our guide to surveying. Next, we explore everything you need to know about what is a Level 2 Survey and when you need one. To learn more read what is a level 2 survey.

      Save on Your Property Survey

      Speak to a RICS Surveyor Today

      Zenyx Griffiths

      Before Compare My Move, Zenyx once wrote lifestyle and entertainment articles for the online magazine, Society19 as well as news articles for Ffotogallery.

      Mike Ashton

      Reviewed by Mike Ashton

      Director, Cambridge Building Surveyors

      With over 20 years of experience in the property surveying industry, Mike Ashton is now the director at Cambridge Building Surveyors.