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How to Prepare for a Survey

Zenyx Griffiths

Written by Reviewed by Mike Ashton

29th Nov 2019 (Last updated on 1st Oct 2021) 8 minute read

Arranging a survey is a normal part of the process when buying or selling a property, so there is no need to be concerned when preparing for it. It’s recommended to compare property survey quotes as a seller, to compare the information received by the buyer with yours.

A property survey is when a qualified and professional surveyor inspects the condition of a property to highlight any defects or structural damage. It allows buyers to determine whether the property is a good investment and so can be a nerve-wracking time for sellers.

We understand how stressful it can be waiting for the surveyor and wondering what a surveyor looks for, but it doesn’t have to be, honestly! Here are a few useful tips to help you prepare for your chartered surveyor to survey your property and ensure a quick and smooth process.

11 Ways to Prepare For a Survey
  1. 1. Understanding the Different Types of Home Survey
  2. 2. Ensure that the Property is Empty
  3. 3. Gather Necessary Documents
  4. 4. Give it Some Elbow Grease
  5. 5. Clear All Windowsills
  6. 6. Inform the Surveyor of Any Concerns
  7. 7. Fix Minor Issues
  8. 8. Inspect the Outside of the Property
  9. 9. Check All Electricals
  10. 10. Move Large Furniture Away from the Walls
  11. Learn More About Surveying

1. Understanding the Different Types of Home Survey

As a seller, it can be helpful to prepare for a house survey by understanding the main house survey types, and how these are different from a mortgage valuation inspection. Each survey is different and can be used for a variety of property types. The three main surveys to explore are:

  • Valuation Report - This is not a survey. It’s vital when buying a property with the aid of a mortgage lender, but simply notes the general condition of a property, along with any obvious defects, to provide an accurate valuation.
  • Condition Report (level one) - This isn't necessary to you as this survey is usually for new build homes.
  • HomeBuyer Report (level two) - This is one of the most common types for modern conventional houses. The homebuyers survey detects visible or suspected defects like damp, rot and structural problems. The checklist includes many of the common concerns for home buyers.
  • Building Survey (level three) - This is the most detailed survey available. The building survey (sometimes called a full-structural survey) is more thorough in its scope and reporting.

Different surveys require different lengths of time to be carried out, and this can also vary according to how busy the housing market is. It could take around 2 hours to carry out a Homebuyers Report survey, or over a day for a Building Survey on a particularly large or complex property.

2. Ensure that the Property is Empty

To provide the surveyor with as much space and time as possible, try to ensure that the house is empty on the day. If you have any children or pets perhaps arrange for them to stay with a friend or family whilst the survey is being carried out to reduce distractions or potential accidents. There should only be one or two people there to greet the surveyor, reducing delays or overcrowding.

All keys should be collected and within reach as, depending on the type of survey occurring, windows may need to be opened, all rooms to be checked and perhaps even other structures like garden sheds or garages will need to be accessible. All surveys require access to the attic or loft so ensure that they’re cleared and attainable. Any restricted areas can be marked down and shown to the buyer, encouraging doubt.

3. Gather Necessary Documents

To ensure a more efficient survey (and to help the surveyor a little) copy and gather any necessary documents beforehand so that they’re ready to view. Documents like a Planning Permission Notice or Energy Performance Certificate can instill confidence in the history of the property, encouraging better results. The more documents you can find the better!

Other certificates that would be useful to have on hand are a current Electrical Test Certificate, Gas Safety Certificate or a Building Regulation Completion Certificate. Some of the documents needed may depend on the type of survey being conducted, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

To learn more, read what certificates do I need to sell my house.

4. Give it Some Elbow Grease

It might not sound fun, but cleaning your property is vital when preparing for a survey. Cleaning and decluttering can add value to your home whilst also allowing easy access to all areas. One room you’ll really have to scrub thoroughly is the bathroom. Ensure that all the tiles are clean and that no mould has built up. Check the taps and pipes to make sure they’re all in good working condition.

Make sure that all carpets have been thoroughly cleaned, especially if you have small children or pets. Declutter any mess and ensure that a clear path provides safe access throughout the property as obstructions could delay or even terminate the inspection. Now would be a good time to start packing and clearing your personal belongings.

5. Clear All Windowsills

The surveyor will often check windowsills and fireplaces for defects and so removing all plants or ornaments is highly recommended to ensure a smoother survey. Windowsills are a common place for damp and mould to build up so they must be examined. If there are plants or ornaments disrupting access to any important areas, remove them immediately. It lessens the chance of delays and makes for a more efficient survey.

The surveyor will need to check if the windows are double glazed so easy access is essential. Keep your keys close by so that you can open any doors or windows when necessary. If your windows are wooden, check the condition of the paintwork and that they’re sealed securely with no cracks to allow wind or rain to leak through.

6. Inform the Surveyor of Any Concerns

It’s important that you’re honest with your surveyor and to not hide any problems whilst preparing for the survey. Focus on making your property look presentable rather than hiding anything you think will affect the report. Chartered surveyors are highly qualified and know where to look to find the common property survey issues.

Dishonesty can lead to major delays in the inspection. Chartered surveyors are very thorough. Be as honest and helpful as possible and inform them of any concerns or renovations you’re aware of. If there are any areas containing obvious damage, provide easy access so that the surveyor can carefully examine the issue and provide expert advice on the repair work.

7. Fix Minor Issues

Another way to prepare for a property survey is to fix minor defects. Do not try completing major jobs without an expert to assist, but smaller issues can be easy to solve. Mould, cracked tiles, hairline cracks and dripping taps are all easy fixes that you could try before the surveyor arrives. Give yourself enough time and research so that you don’t panic, making the situation worse.

Fill hairline cracks, re-paint certain areas, scrub away minor damp or mould, there are a variety of easy ways to prepare the property yourself. Whilst you’re fixing these issues, note down any major problems you uncover and report them to the surveyor. Don’t try fixing them yourself. Improving these minor faults can greatly improve the condition of the property, you just have to be willing to spend a little time and money on enhancing them.

8. Inspect the Outside of the Property

Checking the outside of the property is just as important as inspecting the interior when preparing for a survey. Take a brief look at the roof, see if there are any missing tiles or cracks that could be of concern. Check the guttering for leaks or blockages. Note down any major issues and relay them to the surveyor.

Be wary of growing vegetation as some plants can cause damage to your property. Japanese knotweed is a well-known invasive plant that can spread uncontrolled. Ivy, though often seen as a beautiful extra, can lodge its way through piping or cause damp on your property. Just be wary of any potential concerns that could arise.

9. Check All Electricals

As a safety precaution, it would be a good idea to inspect all electricals and the conditions of any wires connecting them. But be careful as you do so! Don’t take on any job you’re unsure of, just tell the surveyor.

Tidy anything that may cause an accident, keeping wires close to the walls. Check the conditions of the wires outside of the house as well as inside. Make sure no water is able to penetrate the service panel and check that any and all lights are working and in a safe condition.

Ensure that exposed wires are safely capped and that all outlets are in good condition. This would also be a good opportunity to check the property’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning. If you uncover any issues, repair any minimal problems if you’re able to and report larger issues to the surveyor. If anything concerns you, speak to the surveyor.

10. Move Large Furniture Away from the Walls

Preparing your property is all about safety and easy access. Any large furniture should be moved to allow easy access for the surveyor, removing any obstructions that could delay the inspection. You can move the furniture into the middle of the room but make sure there is an easy path to follow to avoid any confusion or accidents.

All comprehensive surveys require an examination of the property. To be able to complete this successfully, the surveyor will need clear access to all areas. The walls will be checked for common concerns like damp or mould. This is why moving furniture is a vital part of the preparation as the surveyor could delay or even terminate the inspection if heavy furniture is too large of an obstruction.

Learn More About Surveying

This has been part of our guide to surveying. Next we will take a look at who is responsible for getting the survey. To learn more read who organises a survey when buying a house.

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 at Cambridge Building Surveyors, Cambridge Building Surveyors

With over 20 years of experience in the property surveying industry, Mike Ashton is now the director at Cambridge Building Surveyors.