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The Difference Between a Homebuyers Report and a Building Survey

Zenyx Griffiths

Written by

11th Nov 2021 (Last updated on 8th Dec 2021) 5 minute read

The main difference between a homebuyers report and a building survey is that the building survey provides a more thorough inspection of the property in question. Whilst both surveys will provide you with information on the overall condition of the home, a building survey will result in a much more detailed report.

Due to the new Home Survey Standard introduced by The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the homebuyers report is now referred to as a Home Survey Level 2, whilst the building survey is now the Home Survey Level 3. Property surveys are vital when buying or selling a house, but each type will be better suited to different homes as well as provide different levels of reports.

Compare My Move works alongside several property and finance experts to create insightful guides that will aid users through every stage of the moving process. In this article, we will discuss the difference between a homebuyers report (Level 2 Survey) and a building survey (Level 3 Survey) as well as the defects that could be highlighted.

This article will cover the following:
  1. Homebuyers Report (Level 2 Survey)
  2. Building Survey (Level 3 Survey)
  3. Homebuyers Report vs Building Survey
  4. Which Home Survey Do You Need?
  5. Finding a Surveyor
  6. Learn More About Surveying

Homebuyers Report (Level 2 Survey)

Suited for conventional homes built less than 80-100 years ago, the homebuyers report has recently been renamed as the Home Survey Level 2. It is the most common property survey amongst buyers in the UK as it provides a general review of the property and its condition. Homebuyer surveys follow a standard format with some including a valuation.

When conducting a Level 2 Survey, the surveyor will carry out a visual inspection of the building and then provide a detailed report highlighting any potential concerns. All major and visible features will be assessed, such as the walls, roof, drainage, heating systems and bathrooms. These will then be rated through an easy-to-read ‘traffic light system’ depending on their condition.

These results will uncover any visible defects, allowing you to decide whether the home is a worthy investment. The report will also include advice on repairs and ongoing maintenance that can help buyers with negotiations. Some of the more common defects discovered by a homebuyers survey include:

  • Damp
  • Cracks in walls
  • Subsidence
  • Japanese Knotweed
  • Electrical issues

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Building Survey (Level 3 Survey)

A building or full structural survey is now known as a Home Survey Level 3 - it is the most comprehensive survey available. A Level 3 Survey is a customised service that is suited to older properties or those made from unusual materials or have been greatly renovated. It focuses on structural integrity and will not include a market analysis such as a valuation or reinstatement costs

A building survey will cost more than a homebuyers survey, but it will assess the condition of the building in much more detail. Many buyers believe the survey is well worth the price as any major issues highlighted could have cost them more in the long run.

The report will highlight both major and minor defects found in the property and include an estimate of the costs of rectifying these. An internal and external inspection will be conducted by your chosen surveyor and the property will be tested for damp, rot, woodworm and more. Just like the homebuyers report, the features assessed will be rated through a traffic light system.

Homebuyers Report vs Building Survey

A homebuyers report is designed for modern homes with the goal of identifying the most important issues to consider whilst also providing a basic valuation. A Level 3 Survey does not typically include a valuation and will result in a much more thorough inspection due to the age and condition of the property in question.

To further explain the difference between a homebuyers report and a building survey, we’ve created a table that displays the factors that will be included in each report:

Factors IncludedHomebuyers Report (Level 2)Building Survey (Level 3)

Includes an inspection.

Yes

Yes

Completed by a RICS Chartered Surveyor.

Yes

Yes

Allows buyers to be fully informed of the property’s condition.

Yes

Yes

Identifies problems that could help with price negotiations.

Yes

Yes

Provides a condition rating of the property.

Yes

Yes

Highlights issues needing urgent attention.

Yes

Yes

Provides advice for your legal advisers.

Yes

Yes

Provides professional advice from the surveyor.

Yes

Yes

Includes a report on construction, building materials and structural defects.

No

Yes

Outlines repair options and possible consequences of ignoring the issues.

No

Yes

Includes a market valuation.

Yes

No

Provides a reinstatement cost for insurance

purposes

Yes

No

Suitable for any property type.

No

Yes

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Which Home Survey Do You Need?

The type of survey you require will largely depend on the property in question. Whilst a homebuyers report (Home Survey Level 2) is generally better suited to homes built in the last 80-100 years that are of a more conventional design, a building survey (Home Survey Level 3) is better for properties older than 80 years, have undergone major renovations or were built using unusual materials.

Whilst a Home Survey Level 2 will provide a moderately detailed report on the condition of the building, a Home Survey Level 3 will be much more thorough. This is why a Level 3 survey is often recommended for older properties that are in ‘poor’ condition as it will provide a thorough inspection, highlighting hidden defects that will affect the value and safety of the home.

Type of SurveyWhat Property Is It Suited For?Average Cost

Condition Report (Level 1)

Conventional and newer properties.

£350

HomeBuyers Report (Level 2)

Low-risk properties - modern houses and flats

£500

Building Survey (Level 3)

High-risk properties over 80-100 years old. Properties requiring renovation or extension work.

£800

Average costs from Compare My Move research, How Much Does a House Survey Cost? It should be noted that survey costs will vary depending on your situation, property and area.

Finding a Surveyor

Home surveys are recommended to all property buyers as they will highlight any potential issues with the building, putting you in a better position to negotiate the price or even walk away from the sale. However, when arranging a survey, you must find an accredited surveyor.

It’s vital you check that the surveyors you research are RICS regulated before choosing. As RICS is the regulatory body for surveyors in the UK, it means that every chartered surveyor listed with them must abide by their code of conduct and work to their high standards.

Requiring an accredited surveyor is why using comparison sites is often recommended. Every surveying partner that enters the Compare My Move network is verified by us, providing proof of their RICS accreditation. Save both time and money during the buying process by comparing surveying quotes today.

Learn More About Surveying

This article has been part of our guide to surveying. Next, we take a look at the specialist survey, the listed building survey. To learn more read what is a listed building 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.