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How to Prepare for a House Survey

Zenyx Griffiths

Written by Reviewed by Mike Ashton

29th Nov 2019 (Last updated on 22nd Apr 2022) 5 minute read

It’s important to prepare your home before a survey to ensure the relevant areas are accessible.

A home survey is when a qualified surveyor inspects the condition of a property to highlight defects or structural damage. The surveyor will need access to all areas as obstructions could delay or even stop the inspection.

It’s recommended to compare surveying quotes before arranging the survey. This guide will explain everything you need to do to prepare for a survey.

House Survey Checklist:
  1. 1. Understand Your Survey
  2. 2. Ensure the Property is Empty
  3. 3. Gather Necessary Documents
  4. 4. Clean and Declutter
  5. 5. Clear All Windowsills
  6. 6. Inform the Surveyor of Any Concerns
  7. 7. Fix Minor Defects
  8. 8. Inspect the Outside of the Property
  9. 9. Check All Electricals
  10. 10. Move Heavy Furniture Away from the Walls
  11. Learn More About Surveying

1. Understand Your Survey

There are 3 main types of home surveys:

RICS Home Survey Level 1

This survey type was formerly known as a Condition Report. It provides a basic overview of the building’s condition and is usually for new build homes.

It’s the cheapest and least thorough survey type available and does not include a valuation.

RICS Home Survey Level 2

The Level 2 Survey was once known as the HomeBuyer Report. It’s the most common type of survey available. It’s suited to most modern houses that are in good condition.

The Level 2 Survey detects visible or suspected defects such as damp, rot and structural issues. The checklist used includes many of the common concerns for homebuyers.

RICS Home Survey Level 3

The Level 3 Survey was previously referred to as a Building Survey. This is the most detailed survey available and is more thorough in its scope and reporting.

The report will outline any defects, their apparent cause, the urgency of the repairs and sometimes the cost considerations for the work. The surveyor will also examine areas that are difficult to reach.

For more information, read what type of survey do I need?

2. Ensure the Property is Empty

There should only be 1 or 2 people at the home to greet the surveyor and reduce the risk of delays and overcrowding. If you have any children or pets, arrange for them to stay with a friend or family member during the survey.

All keys should be within reach as the surveys require access to the attic or loft. Depending on the type of survey, windows must be open and all rooms checked. Other structures such as sheds or garages will need to be accessible.

3. Gather Necessary Documents

Documents such as a Planning Permission Notice or Energy Performance Certificate can instil confidence in the history of the property. This encourages better results.

Other certificates include:

  • Electrical Test Certificate
  • Gas Safety Certificate
  • Building Regulation Completion Certificate

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

4. Clean and Declutter

Cleaning and decluttering can add value to your home and allow easy access. Clean the carpets thoroughly, especially if you have small children or pets. Don’t forget to check the taps and pipes to make sure they’re all in working condition.

Declutter and ensure that a clear path provides safe access throughout the property. Obstructions could delay or even terminate the inspection.

For more information, read how to declutter your home.

5. Clear All Windowsills

Windowsills are a common area for damp and mould to build up. If there are plants or ornaments disrupting access, remove them immediately. It lessens the chance of delays and makes for a more efficient survey.

The surveyor will also need to check if the windows are double glazed. If your windows are wooden, check the paintwork and whether they’re sealed securely. There should be no cracks to allow wind or rain through.

6. Inform the Surveyor of Any Concerns

It’s important that you’re honest with your surveyor. Don’t hide any problems whilst preparing for the survey. Chartered surveyors are highly qualified and know where to look to find common property survey issues.

Be as helpful as possible and inform them of any concerns or renovations you’re aware of. If there are any areas with obvious damage, provide easy access so they can examine the issue. They can then provide expert advice on the repair work.

7. Fix Minor Defects

Mould, cracked tiles, hairline ceiling cracks and dripping taps are all easy fixes.

Note down any major problems you uncover and report them to the surveyor. Do not try completing major jobs without an expert to assist.

8. Inspect the Outside of the Property

Take a brief look at the roof and check whether there are any missing tiles or cracks that could be of concern. Check the guttering for leaks or blockages and note down any major issues to relay to the surveyor.

Be wary of growing vegetation as some plants can cause damage to your property. For example, Japanese knotweed is a well-known invasive plant that can spread if uncontrolled.

9. Check All Electricals

As a safety precaution, inspect all electricals and the wires connecting them. Be careful as you do and don’t take on any job you’re unsure of.

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. 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 anything concerns you, speak to the surveyor.

10. Move Heavy Furniture Away from the Walls

Preparing your property for a survey is all about safety and easy access. Move any large or heavy furniture to allow access for the surveyor. This removes 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.

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, Cambridge Building Surveyors

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