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What is a Condition Report (Level 1 Survey)?

Zenyx Griffiths

Written by

16th Jul 2019 (Last updated on 4th Oct 2021) 7 minute read

The RICS Home Condition Report is a Level 1 home survey that provides a basic overview of a property’s condition and the risks it may contain. It is the cheapest but least thorough survey type available and does not include a valuation.

In March 2021, RICS implemented a new Home Survey Standard, meaning what was once known as the Condition Report, Homebuyers Survey and Building Survey will be changed and updated. There will be a transition period running between 1st March and 31st August 2021 where both the old and new formats will be accepted, but from 1st September 2021, the RICS Condition Report will be known as a Home Survey Level 1 Report.

Due to the more comprehensive results, it’s often recommended to choose the Homebuyers Survey over the Condition Report. Here at Compare My Move, we do not provide Condition Reports as an option and would recommend the use of other survey types due to the amount of detail they include. Here's an example of a condition report so you know what to expect, provided by Cambridge Building Surveyors.

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

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

A Condition Report is a short, surface-level inspection of a property to highlight any obvious defects - it is now known by surveyors as a Level 1 Home Survey. It will help the buyer to be aware of any issues before committing to the purchase. It was developed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and is the cheapest but most basic type of survey available.

Like the 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 is essential when applying for a mortgage. This means you’ll have to spend more money ordering this separately.

We highly recommend finding a surveyor to conduct a Homebuyers Survey to inspect the building as the report is much more thorough and useful to both buyers and sellers.

What’s Covered in a RICS Condition Report (Level 1 Survey)?

The RICS Condition Report 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.

A Condition Report 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. It provides the homeowner with information on location, local environment and the recorded energy efficiency.

Compare My Move may not offer the RICS Condition Report, but our highly professional surveying partners offer more comprehensive surveys like the Homebuyers Report (Level 2 Survey) and the Building Survey (Level 3 Survey) which are both much more beneficial. The level of detail involved is thorough and the advice included is incredibly helpful, saving you from future costs. It’s always recommended to choose one of these surveys over the Condition Report for these reasons.

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

What Type of Property is a Condition Report (Level 1 Survey) For?

The RICS Condition Report (Level 1 Survey) is only targeted at conventional properties that are new or less than 5 years old, limiting who can have one conducted. The property must be in reasonable condition with a maintenance history easily accessible. A Condition Report is not suitable for older buildings, unusually constructed buildings or properties with major known defects.

Due to its limiting criteria, the Condition Report 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. Compare My Move has included a list of the other inspection and survey types available and when they’d be most suitable:

  • RICS Valuation - this 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. It can be used on any property type. A mortgage valuation is not a survey, and must not be treated as one.
  • Homebuyers Report (Level 2 Survey) - this is available to most property types, particularly conventional buildings and homes that are fairly modern or younger than 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, suitable for flats and houses.
  • Building Survey (Level 3 Survey) - this survey type is only used for higher-risk properties that are older than 50 years of age, unusually built, made from unusual materials or buildings that have been or are potentially going to be altered or extended.
  • Snagging List - this is not a comprehensive survey, simply a list of damage or defects. It's only suitable for new-builds to uncover any issues that were missed during construction.

How to Read a RICS Condition Report (Level 1 Survey)

Like other RICS registered surveys, the Condition Report (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 Condition Report 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 Homebuyers Survey or Building Survey.

Condition Report vs Homebuyers Report

If you’re looking for a property survey that is inexpensive yet provides a thorough report of the property’s condition, then the best option would be a Home Survey Level 2 Report, also known as the Homebuyers Survey. The Homebuyers Survey provides a much more detailed summary of the risks and defects found allowing you to determine whether or not it’s a worthy investment.

With the recommendations provided in the Homebuyers Survey (Level 2 Survey), you can make an informed decision when purchasing a property. The help and advice that is neglected in the Condition Report (Level 1 Survey) are vital to any transaction as it determines whether the asking price is reasonable compared to the cost of repairs required.

Undermining the extent of damage can cost you greatly in future repairs, making the extra information provided in the Homebuyers Survey (Level 2 Survey) vital to committing to the sale. Compare My Move’s surveying partners are highly experienced and qualified to tackle these issues and conduct a thorough investigation through either a Homebuyers or Building Survey (Level 3 Survey). The more professional advice you can obtain, the more informed you’ll be, saving you 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 homebuyers survey and when you need one. To learn more read what is a homebuyers survey.

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.