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House Survey - Types and Costs of Home Buyer Survey

Martha Lott

Written by

18th Jan 2024 (Last updated on 20th Feb 2024) 6 minute read

Surveying is a vital part of the house-buying process and will inform you of the property's condition.

As soon as your house offer is accepted, it’s recommended you book your house survey with a RICS chartered surveyor. There are different levels of surveys, so it’s important to choose the right one for your property.

This article will highlight the main home buyer surveys, the costs and how to get your survey booked.

  1. What is a House Survey?
  2. Why Do I Need a House Survey?
  3. Types of House Surveys
  4. How Much Do House Surveys Cost?
  5. What Survey Do I Need?
  6. How To Get a House Survey
  7. FAQs

What is a House Survey?

A house survey is a detailed inspection of the property you’re buying. They’re carried out by a chartered surveyor and will highlight any structural problems or issues such as damp.

The survey report will list any major repair or alteration work needed. It’ll also include important information about the property’s interior and exterior.

Why Do I Need a House Survey?

A house survey will highlight any issues before you legally have to complete the purchase. It’s not a legal requirement to have a Home Buyer Report, but it is recommended to make an informed decision about the property.

As the seller doesn’t have to legally disclose damages or defects, it can be risky to buy a property without a survey. There are many issues a surveyor can detect that when gone unnoticed could cost you in the future, such as subsidence or damp.

By getting a house survey, you can prepare for repair work or potentially even back out of the sale if you get bad survey results.

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Types of House Surveys

Also known as homebuyer reports, there are 3 main types of house surveys available. The right one for you will depend on the property you’re buying.

RICS Home Survey Level 1

Previously known as Condition Report, the Level 1 Survey is the most basic and therefore cheapest RICS survey. All nearly new flats and homes will be best suited to the Level 1 Survey.

It’ll provide an overview of the property’s condition, but not in great detail. No surveyor's opinion, advice or valuation is given, only obvious defects and the condition of the services like gas and water supply will be flagged.

RICS Home Survey Level 2

Also referred to as a Home Buyers Survey or Home Buyer Report, the Level 2 Survey is suited for conventional properties built less than 50 years ago. It highlights any major issues with the property such as subsidence or damp and will look at defects both internally and externally.

The Level 2 Survey only looks at issues that are surface level and won’t check under floorboards or behind walls. Your surveyor will mark any major issues as a ‘3’ in the report and minor ones as '1'.

The report will also include an insurance reinstatement figure and a market value.

RICS Home Survey Level 3

Previously known as a Building Survey, a Level 3 Survey is best suited to older homes or non-standard construction houses. This could include thatched cottages, steel frame houses or PRC properties. It’ll look at the condition of the roof, the integrity and structure of the walls and the state of the floors.

Your report will detail each aspect inspected and will include any recommendations your surveyor has on repair work. If requested the report may also contain cost considerations for the elements included.

How Much Do House Surveys Cost?

Home buyer survey costs will vary and depend on the value of the property. We have gathered average house survey costs to help you get an idea of what to expect:

  • RICS Home Survey Level 1 - £350
  • RICS Home Survey Level 2 - £500
  • RICS Home Survey Level 3 - £800

Our data looks at the average property price costing between £200,000 and £300,000.

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What Survey Do I Need?

The table below explains what you can expect from each survey and what your surveyor checks for. This will help you pick which type of house survey you need when buying a property.

What's Included?Level 1Level 2Level 3
Suitable for any property type.Yes

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




Identifies problems that could help with price negotiations.




Provides a condition rating of the property.




Highlights issues needing urgent attention.




Provides advice for your legal advisers.




Provides professional advice from the surveyor.



Includes a report on construction and structural defects.Yes
Includes a market valuation.YesYes

How To Get a House Survey

To get a house survey, you’ll need to hire a RICS property surveyor to carry out the relevant survey.

You can compare surveying quotes with Compare My Move by using our quick and easy form. Up to 6 trusted and verified surveyors will be in touch to discuss your requirements and quotes. You can then compare these quotes and choose the best surveyor for you. All of Compare My Move surveyors are RICS-regulated and verified by us before they join.

Alternatively, you can find a surveyor on the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA) website, but it’s important to note that you won’t be able to compare costs this way.

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Is It Worth Getting a House Survey?

A property survey can save you £5,750 on average in repair work, research by RICS discovered. As a survey will highlight any repair work, this allows you to negotiate on your original offer and the final cost of the property. This can ultimately save you thousands of pounds in repairs.

How Long Does a House Survey Take?

A Level 1 Survey will take between 2 and 4 hours as it is the most basic survey type. The Level 2 will also take 2-4 hours, but if the surveyor needs to gain access to certain areas, this can take longer. The Level 3 survey will take the longest with an average timescale of 4-8 hours, depending on condition and size.

Do I Need A Survey For A New Build?

Yes, you’ll need to get a Snagging Survey for a new build. This will typically cost £300 but costs can vary. 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. Whatever has been compiled into the snagging list can then be used to negotiate with the developer. This will allow them to complete the work before the sale is finalised and before you move in.

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

Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

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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