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The Difference Between a Homebuyers Report and a Building Survey

Zenyx Griffiths

Written by Reviewed by Mike Ashton

11th Nov 2021 (Last updated on 4th Apr 2022) 4 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 condition of the home, a building survey will result in a more detailed report.

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

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 former homebuyers report has been renamed the Home Survey Level 2. It’s the most common property survey amongst buyers in the UK as it provides a general review of the building and its condition. Level 2 Surveys follow a standard format with some including an optional valuation.

When conducting a Level 2 Survey, the surveyor will carry out a visual inspection of the building and provide a detailed report highlighting any potential concerns. All major and visible features will be assessed, such as the walls, roof, drainage 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)

The building or full structural survey is now known as a Home Survey Level 3. It’s 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. It’s also suited to buildings that have been altered or 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, 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 major and minor defects found and can optionally include an estimate of the costs of rectifying these. An internal and external inspection will be conducted and the property will be checked 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 whilst also providing a basic valuation. A Level 3 Survey does not include a valuation and will result in a more thorough inspection due to the age and condition of the property.

To further explain the difference between a Level 2 and a Level 3 report, we’ve created a table that shows the main factors that will be included:

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 need will depend on the property in question.

A homebuyers report (Home Survey Level 2) is generally better suited to conventional homes built in the last 80-100 years. A building survey (Home Survey Level 3) is better for properties older than 80 years or those which have undergone major renovations or were built using unusual materials.

A Level 3 survey is often recommended for older properties that are in ‘poor’ condition as it’ll provide a thorough inspection and highlight 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+ VAT

HomeBuyers Report (Level 2)

Low-risk properties - modern houses and flats

£500 + VAT

Building Survey (Level 3)

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

£800 + VAT

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

When arranging a survey, you must find an accredited surveyor.

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

Hiring 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.

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.