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What is a HomeBuyers Survey?

The HomeBuyers Survey, also known as a RICS Level 2 Survey, is the most popular survey type for home buyers. It’s a mid-level survey, so it's not as detailed as the Level 3, but more thorough than the Level 1.

A HomeBuyers Survey will highlight any urgent and non-urgent work needed. However, it’s a non-intrusive survey, so your surveyor will only examine visible areas. They won’t look under carpets or move any furniture.

The survey can be used to assess the condition of many property types including; conventional homes, flats and bungalows. It'll help you make an informed decision before buying the property, avoiding unexpected costs and ongoing maintenance work.

You can use the report findings to help renegotiate the property price to cover repair costs. Alternatively, if the report shows bad results, you can pull out of the sale altogether before exchanging contracts. However, you will lose the cost of your survey and solicitor fees already paid.

How much is a HomeBuyers Survey?

In 2024, a Home Buyers Survey costs £424 on average. This is the average price paid by Compare My Move users.

If you use Compare My Move to compare HomeBuyers Survey quotes, you can save £240 on your survey costs. Data shows that our users received an average highest quote of £636 and a low of £396.

We've gathered costs for the other types of house survey based on our data:

Survey TypeAvg. Cost
HomeBuyer Survey£424
Building Survey£578
Home Report (Scotland)£703
Snagging Survey (New Build)£390
Valuation Report£331

Are there any additional costs?

Your survey costs will vary depending on the size of the property as well as other factors, including:

The surveyor you opt for

The locations of the property

The value of the property

The time the surveyor spends inspecting the property and compiling the report


If damp, structural concerns or electrical issues are found, your surveyor may suggest getting specialist surveys to inspect the issue. This will be another cost to factor into the house-buying process.

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What will a HomeBuyers Survey look at?

Your property surveyor will carry out a detailed inspection of the interior and exterior of the property. They will only examine what is easily visible to them.

We’ve created a Home Buyers Survey checklist so you know what to expect from your survey:

Inside the property:

Roof structure

Ceilings

Walls and partitions

Floors

Fireplaces, chimney breasts and flues

Built-in fittings (excluding appliances)

Woodwork

Bathroom fittings

Outside the property:

Garage

Permanent outbuildings and other structures

Chimneystacks

Roof coverings

Rainwater pipes and gutters

Main walls

Windows

Outside doors (including patio doors)

Conservatories and porches

Other:

Electricity

Gas/oil

Water

Heating

Water heating

Drainage

Common services


Your report will also include any recommendations and advice from the surveyor. It'll highlight any observations about planning and building, disputes and legal matters.

If you opt for a Valuation as well, the RICS HomeBuyers Survey will include a market value of the property and an insurance reinstatement figure.

Here’s an example of a HomeBuyers Survey report so you know what to expect from your survey.

View example report.

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HomeBuyer Survey Condition Ratings explained

Everything the surveyor looked at will be presented in an easy-to-read report and given a condition rating. This rates the severity and urgency of repairs. RICS categorises the ratings as follows:

Condition rating 1:

No repair needed.

Condition rating 2:

Defects that don’t need urgent repairs.

Condition rating 3:

Defects that are serious and should be urgently fixed.

How long does a HomeBuyers Survey take?

A Level 2 Home Buyers Survey will take 2-4 hours to complete and 3-5 working days for the report to be sent to you, normally by email. You may be able to request a paper format for an additional fee.

The timescale will depend on the size of the property as well as the accessibility the surveyor has.

Buyers should book their survey once they have had their offer accepted. This will help to avoid any delays in the house-buying process. You'll need to agree with the seller ahead of time when the survey will take place.

Common red flags on a survey

If you’re concerned about any issues before your survey, you can let the surveyor know and they can pay particular attention to these problem areas. The most common problems highlighted in property surveys are:

Damp

Cracks and roofing issues

Subsidence

Flooring concerns

Asbestos

Woodworm

Dry rot

Japanese Knotweed

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Other types of house surveys

A range of house surveys are available and the type of survey you’ll need will depend on the property type. The main property surveys are as follows:

1

RICS Home Survey Level 1 - £380

The Level 1 Survey, previously known as the RICS Condition Report is suitable for nearly new homes and flats in good condition. This gives a general overview without too much detail, so isn’t suitable for older homes.

2

RICS Home Survey Level 3 - £800

Suitable for older properties made from non common building materials, the Level 3 Survey is more comprehensive. It will look at the structural integrity to flag serious defects. Previously known as the RICS Building Survey, this survey will offer a detailed inspection of the building’s structure. It’ll also give you an idea of the potential costs to fix any defects found.

3

Snagging Survey - £300-£600

New build properties will require a Snagging Survey. Despite being brand new homes, there still may be errors or defects in the construction. A new-build Snagging Survey will highlight any issues, allowing the developer to remedy these concerns early on. These are offered by both RICS and RPSA surveyors on our network.

4

RICS Valuation Report - £320

A RICS Valuation Report is not a property survey but is required to prove to your mortgage lender that the house is worth what they’re lending you. A mortgage valuation survey won’t highlight any property issues so you should still get a house survey carried out on top of this.

5

Home Report (Scotland) - £585-£820

In Scotland, it's the seller's responsibility and legal requirement to get a Home Report. The Home Report is made up of a single survey, an energy performance certificate and a property questionnaire. The single survey provided will produce reports like that of a Level 2, with similar issues and defects being recorded.

FAQs

Is a home buyer survey worth it?

It’s worth getting a HomeBuyers Survey to be aware of the overall condition of the property before you legally have to buy it. RICS found that 1 in 5 buyers who didn’t have a survey conducted later found faults and faced unplanned costs. The research found that participants had to spend an average of £5,750 on unexpected repair work.

Should I get a Level 2 or Level 3?

The Level 3 Survey, previously known as the Building Survey or Full Structural Survey, is suited for older properties built with uncommon materials. If you’re buying a period property or a thatched cottage, for example, you will need a Level 3.

Can I reduce my offer on a house after survey?

You can use your survey results to negotiate your original offer to a better price. This means you can cover the cost of any house repairs needed. The seller isn’t under any obligation to accept your new offer, but it is always worth trying.

Do I need a survey for a new build?

Yes, you’ll need to get a Snagging Survey for a new build. You won't need a Level 2 or 3 Survey as there shouldn’t be any structural damage on a newly built property. The new build Snagging Survey highlights defects like damage to paintwork or small unfinished jobs throughout the property.

Do you need a survey when buying a flat?

If you’re buying a purpose-built flat, you will need a RICS Home Survey Level 1 or 2, depending on age and condition. If you’re buying a converted flat that was once a period property, then you’ll need a Level 3 Survey.

Is a mortgage valuation enough?

A Mortgage Valuation is a very basic inspection to provide an accurate idea of its value to your mortgage provider. It is not a property survey and won’t provide any comment on the building’s structure or condition.

What survey would I need in Scotland?

In Scotland, you'll need a Home Report, but it's the seller's responsibility to order this. It must be carried out before a sale is complete to ensure that buyers are aware of the property's condition.

Where to find a surveyor

Your estate agent, bank or mortgage lender may recommend their preferred property surveyor, but it's important to note they may receive a commission if you use them. At Compare My Move, we can connect you with up to 6 local surveyors so you can save up to 70% on your surveying costs. Simply fill in our surveying comparison form to get connected today and find the right company for you.

All our surveying partners have passed our strict verification process. For companies offering Home Surveys and Valuation Reports, they must be registered with RICS. Firms specialising in Party Wall and Snagging Surveys can be regulated by either the RPSA or RICS.

Need a removal company?

Once your survey and property transaction goes through, you may need a removal company. Our surveying and removal comparison form matches you with companies in just a few extra steps. We can connect you with up to 6 removal companies and save up to 70% on your removal fees.

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Written by

Last updated

19th Apr, 2024

Read time

8 minutes

Martha Lott

Written by

Senior Digital Content Executive

Having guest authored for many property websites, Martha now researches and writes articles for everything moving house related, from remortgages to conveyancing costs.

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