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House Survey Checklist

Ashleigh Williams

Written by

22nd Nov 2022 (Last updated on 24th Jan 2023) 6 minute read

When it comes to buying a home, it’s vital to hire the help of a surveyor to check the condition of the property you want to buy.

A property survey will provide you with a better understanding of the property itself and of any work that may need to be undertaken.

Before hiring a chartered surveyor, you should understand the different types of house surveys. You should also be aware of the surveying process.

In this guide, we will be providing you with a house survey checklist so you have a better idea of the job a surveyor carries out and what you can expect from each RICS survey.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What Does A Surveyor Check During A Building Survey?
  2. What Does A Surveyor Check During A HomeBuyers Report?
  3. What Does A Surveyor Check With A Condition Report?
  4. Difference Between Homebuyer and Building Survey
  5. What Won't The Surveyor Check?
  6. How Much Does A House Survey Cost?
  7. Will A Surveyor Go in the Loft?
  8. What Can Fail a House Survey?
  9. How Do I Prepare My House for a Survey?
  10. How to Find A Surveyor

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What Does A Surveyor Check During A Building Survey?

A building survey is the most detailed property survey you can have. It’s more recently referred to as the RICS Level 3 Survey. It covers both the internal and the external areas of the property, and it’s a comprehensive survey report.

This survey is most suitable for properties such as:

  • Older properties (over 50 years old)
  • Unconventional properties
  • Properties that are listed or historical
  • Are visibly in a bad condition
  • A property without building regulations

When a building survey is carried out, a hands-on approach is taken, and the surveyor will check the property in as much detail as possible. The survey can take anywhere up to 4 hours to complete depending on the size of the home.

Here is a list of some of the things the surveyor will look into:

  • Internal areas of the property
  • External areas of the property
  • Hard-to-reach areas
  • Visual inspection Behind movable furniture
  • Inside cupboards
  • The boiler
  • Gas and electricity meters
  • The presence of Japanese knotweed
  • mold and damp

What Does A Surveyor Check During A HomeBuyers Report?

The Homebuyers Report isn’t as extensive as the Building survey. It’s now more commonly referred to as the RICS Level 2 Survey. This survey also covers both internal and external areas of the property. This survey is best suited to the following properties:

  • Properties less than 50 years old
  • Properties in a good condition with no visible signs of damage
  • Properties without renovation work

The HomeBuyers Report covers (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Accessible internal and external areas of the property
  • Surface level issues
  • The boiler
  • Garages and conservatories
  • Walls and chimney stacks
  • Windows and bathroom fittings
  • Presence of mould and damp

What Does A Surveyor Check With A Condition Report?

A Condition Report is the least expensive and least extensive surveying report you can have. It’s now referred to as the RICS Level 1 Survey. Here is when it’s useful to have a Condition Report:

  • If you’re purchasing a modern house or flat
  • If the property is conventional and no previous issues have been flagged

In comparison to the Level 2 and 3 surveys, it’s quite basic and will cover minor defects. The Condition Report doesn’t provide recommendations for the property or the estimated cost of repairs if any issues are raised. However, it provides enough detail to make you aware of key issues before purchasing a property.

The Condition Report will cover some of the following:

  • An overview of the property's condition
  • Obvious surface-level issues
  • Legal issue advisories
  • Recorded energy efficiency
  • Potential risks and issues with the property

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Difference Between Homebuyer and Building Survey

When purchasing a RICS Survey, it’s important to know the key differences between the Homebuyer Report and the Building Survey. This provides you with a better understanding of the most suitable option for your property.

The main difference between the Homebuyer and Building Survey is the amount of detail the surveyor will go into. The Building Survey is the most detailed survey and will cover harder-to-reach areas, including inside cupboards and gutters.

The Homebuyer survey won’t go into as much detail and will only extensively cover easily accessible areas. Here is what the Building Survey will cover that the Homebuyer Survey doesn’t:

  • Construction, building materials, and structural defect report
  • Repair suggestions and the effects the issues can have on the property in the future
  • This survey is suitable for all properties, whereas the Homebuyer Report is only suitable for newer properties
  • The Building Survey is more expensive than the HomeBuyers Report on average.

What Won't The Surveyor Check?

Excluding the differences between each survey, there are some aspects of a property that a surveyor won’t check. This includes the plumbing and electrics. This is because a professional will need to carry out these checks.

Surveyors are only able to check visible services, they cannot run specialist or specific tests. Their inspection is non-intrusive, so they won’t lift floorboards or access any areas that aren’t accessible.

How Much Does A House Survey Cost?

Here are the average RICS home survey costs based on our research:

Property ValueRICS Level 1 Home SurveyRICS Level 2 Home SurveyRICS Level 3 Home Survey

£100,001 - £200,000

£290

£420

£700

£200,001 - £300,000

£380

£500

£800

£300,001 - £400,000

£400

£570

£900

£400,001 - £500,000

£420

£640

£990

£500,001 - £600,000

£470

£740

£1,120

Average Surveying Fees

  • RICS Level 1 Survey - £380
  • RICS Level 2 Survey - £500
  • RICS Level 3 Survey - £800

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Will A Surveyor Go in the Loft?

Yes, a surveyor will check the loft for both the RICS Level 2 and Level 3 surveys. This is to ensure the roof is in a good condition and the property has enough insulation.

They will likely also check for issues such as signs of dampness and mould in addition to the loft condition and size.

What Can Fail a House Survey?

There are many common house survey problems that can lead to a failed report. This is why it’s so important to hire a professional surveyor to look at the property before you buy it.

Here are the 10 most common reasons why properties will fail a house survey:

  1. Structural movement
  2. Asbestos
  3. Invasive plants (including Japanese Knotweed)
  4. Damp
  5. Drain pipe faults
  6. Electrical problems
  7. Insect infestations (beetles and woodworms)
  8. Issues with the roof
  9. Flat roofs
  10. Insulation problems

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How Do I Prepare My House for a Survey?

There are many ways you can prepare for a house survey to help ensure your home doesn’t fail. To begin with, you will want to ensure that you have cleaned and decluttered the home. This provides the surveyor with easier access to the areas they need to assess. Moving furniture so the surveyor has access to the walls is important.

It’s recommended to clear your window sills and to have a professional check the electrics before the survey inspection. Carrying our damp tests can be useful if your property has experienced issues with dampness before.

Any minor issues should be fixed before the survey. You will want to speak to the surveyor about any potential concerns you may have about the property.

Keeping a HomeBuyer survey checklist will help to ensure you have covered all the areas necessary. You may want to include checking aspects such as double glazing, door frames and exterior walls. The surveyor will look for any major cracks in the walls and the working condition of the property.

How to Find A Surveyor

If you’re looking to hire the help of a surveyor, here at Compare My Move we can assist you with this. We are able to place you in contact with up to 6 RICS-approved surveyors, helping you to both save money and time. All our partners are required to pass our strict verification process and can be relied upon to provide the best possible service.

When choosing a surveyor, you’ll want to ensure they are RICS regulated and can provide the services you need. A surveyor plays an important role in the house-buying process and their report can affect mortgage valuation. This is why it's so important to choose a trusted surveyor.

Other ways to find a trusted surveyor include reading reviews of companies. This helps ensure they are trustworthy and reliable. Seeking out specific recommendations can be helpful too.

The RICS website will allow you to browse through RICS-approved surveyors in your area.

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Ashleigh Williams

Having written book reviews and content for For The Love of Books for over five years, Ashleigh now creates advice articles for Compare My Move, focusing on all things home-related.

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