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What is a Structural Survey?

Martha Lott

Written by

24th Jan 2023 (Last updated on 12th Feb 2024) 5 minute read

A Structural Survey is designed to assess a property’s structure. Whether you’re planning a renovation or it’s been recommended after a property survey, a Structural Survey will give you an idea of any structural issues.

In this guide, we take a look at the difference between a Structural Survey, a Full Structural Survey and a Building Survey. We’ll also detail what’s included in the survey and when you may need one.

  1. What is Meant by a Structural Survey?
  2. What is a Full Structural Survey?
  3. What is the Difference Between a Building Survey and a Structural Survey?
  4. What are other Types of Structural Survey?
  5. Who Needs a Structural Survey?
  6. What Does a Structural Survey Include?
  7. Who Pays for a Structural Survey?
  8. How Much Does a Structural Survey Cost?
  9. Is a Structural Survey Worth it?
  10. Finding a Surveyor

What is Meant by a Structural Survey?

A structural survey focuses on a property’s structural integrity. Carried out by structural engineers, the main purpose of the survey is to highlight whether the property is safe to live in. They must also provide information on any proposed works required.

The survey will provide valuable information to help identify potential risks before they become major problems. It can also provide the details needed to make an informed decision regarding renovation and repair work.

A Structural Survey is typically recommended by a chartered surveyor when you’re buying a property. This is so the structural engineer can provide further insight into the structure of the property.

What is a Full Structural Survey?

A Full Structural Survey is the previous name for the Level 3 Building Survey. If you’re searching for a Full Structural Survey, you may see results for a Building Survey or RICS Home Survey Level 3. This survey is designed for older properties and will give you a detailed report on any issues with the property’s structure and condition.

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What is the Difference Between a Building Survey and a Structural Survey?

Many people confuse a Structural Survey with a Building Survey, but these are separate surveys.

Building Survey - This is a property survey that homebuyers will get before buying the property. It will provide a comprehensive inspection and report of the property’s condition and structure. You will need a RICS chartered surveyor to carry out your building survey. They’ll be regulated by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Structural Survey - This is carried out by a structural engineer and will provide a focused inspection of the integrity of the structure. This is usually a survey recommended by your property surveyor to provide a further examination. The Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) and The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) regulate structural engineers.

What are other Types of Structural Survey?

Many survey types will look at a property’s structure. The following are the most popular:

Specific Defect Survey - A Specific Defect Survey will assess particular problems with a property’s structure. These problems are usually picked up in your HomeBuyer Survey or Building Survey and require further investigation.

Building Survey - A Building Survey can act as an initial Structural Survey carried out by a RICS chartered surveyor. If further assessment is needed, then you’ll need a structural engineer.

A HomeBuyers Report (level 2) won’t asses a property’s structure, but it will provide a detailed look at the condition.

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Who Needs a Structural Survey?

You may need the survey for many reasons. Some common reasons a Structural Survey is needed are:

Homeowners wanting to extend or renovate - This could include work such as removing a chimney breast, making changes to internal walls, installing solar panels, making changes to doors or windows and underpinning floors from subsidence.

Homebuyers after surveyor recommended one - If the property you’re buying has structural issues that were revealed in your survey, your property survey might recommend that a structural engineer take a closer look.

As a witness to structural disagreements - If you and your neighbour disagree over a structural issue on your property, a structural engineer will be able to provide an unbiased view to help resolve the issue.

What Does a Structural Survey Include?

A Structural Survey will differ depending on the type of job needed. If you’re a homebuyer needing further investigation into the property you’re buying, you might need to provide them with your survey report.

The engineer will then inspect the property’s structure. This could include cracks in walls and roof problems. They could also examine the foundations, look for any signs of water damage and assess the electric and plumbing systems of the property. The survey will be intrusive so they can take a closer look at the problem.

If you’re a homeowner wanting to convert your property, the engineer will take measurements so they can provide you with accurate drawings. If the survey is for proposed building work, they’ll provide you with detailed drawings and plans to pass on to a building contractor.

Who Pays for a Structural Survey?

If you require a Structural Survey after receiving your Building Survey report, you will be required to pay for the survey. It’s not mandatory to take your surveyor’s advice but it is highly recommended as they have in-depth experience and knowledge.

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How Much Does a Structural Survey Cost?

As a rule of thumb, structural engineers will charge around £100 per hour. The complexity of the project and what they’re assessing during the survey will also contribute to the price. A Structural Survey cost will depend on:

  • Location of property/project
  • Complexity of project
  • Whether you need planning permission
  • Size and type of property

To learn more, read our guide on house survey costs.

Is a Structural Survey Worth it?

It’s always worth getting a thorough report on the structure of a property before you buy one or plan renovation work. While it may seem an expense at the time, it’ll only cost you more later down the line to fix any repairs you didn’t know about.

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Finding a Surveyor

At Compare My Move, we can connect you with up to 6 surveyors and save you 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.

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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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