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Flat Surveys: Do You Need a Survey When Buying a Flat?

Nicola Ryan

Written by

11th Nov 2022 (Last updated on 7th Dec 2022) 8 minute read

When buying a flat, a survey will highlight any issues with the property and the building. You may be thinking to yourself: do I need a survey on a flat? The simple answer is yes: you will need to hire a surveyor to conduct the inspection and write the report. While it is not legally required, a home survey can save you thousands of money in the long-run. This is because it will flag any issues before you proceed with the purchase.

In this guide, we’ll be taking you through everything you need to know about flat surveys. We will also delve into what you can expect from the survey and what kinds of surveys you can choose from.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What Type of Survey do I Need for a Flat?
  2. Do I Need a Survey on a Leasehold Flat?
  3. How much does a Flat Survey Cost?
  4. What do Surveyors Check in a Flat?
  5. Who is Responsible for the Roof?
  6. Benefits of Getting a Flat Survey
  7. How to Find a Flat Surveyor?
  8. What are the Main Types of House Survey?
  9. What Makes a Leasehold Property Different?
  10. Do You Need a Survey for a New Flat?
  11. Finding a Surveyor

What Type of Survey do I Need for a Flat?

The type of survey your flat needs is dependent on various factors. The first thing you need to consider is the type of flat that you are looking to buy. RICS (The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) offer a variety of different survey options depending on how detailed the report is.

If the flat is modern and is a purpose-built flat, then a Level 2 HomeBuyer Report is the best option. However, if you are looking to purchase a converted flat in a period property, you will need a Level 3 Building Survey.

Your surveyor will be able to advise you further on what type of survey is best for the flat if you are still unsure.

Do I Need a Survey on a Leasehold Flat?

Having a survey conducted is not a legal requirement, but it is advised. This is because buyers will have the confidence to proceed with the transaction. If faced with negative survey results, the buyer can choose to pull out of the transaction or renegotiate their offer.

Having a survey completed on a flat is important as you need to be aware of the condition of the flat itself and the building as a whole. This is because you will be expected to pay regular maintenance fees.

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How much does a Flat Survey Cost?

The average survey cost is £500 for the Level 2 HomeBuyer Report and £800 for a Level 3 Building survey. The cost of the survey is dictated by the value of the property. This means that the higher the property value, the more expensive the survey will be.

Level 2 HomeBuyer Report Cost

The average cost for a Level 2 HomeBuyer Report is £500. Most surveyors charge between £325 and £900 for the report. You can also request a Valuation on top of your survey. This costs an average of £50.

Level 3 Building Survey Cost

The average cost for a Level 3 Building Survey is £800. Most surveyors charge between £630 and £1,200. You can request a separate Valuation with your Building Survey. This may incur an extra charge.

What do Surveyors Check in a Flat?

Your surveyor will check the interior and exterior of the flat. This means that they will inspect the exterior of the building to ensure that it is in good condition. It’s important to inspect features such as the gutters, drains, and the condition of the outside walls. These can determine the quality and longevity of the flats themselves.

The surveyor will also inspect the flat itself. Depending on which survey you choose, the report itself will vary in detail. The Level 3 Building Survey is more detailed and will therefore require a more thorough inspection. On the other hand, a Level 2 HomeBuyer Report is an intermediate survey. This means that your surveyor will highlight important issues, but may not delve into as much detail.

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Who is Responsible for the Roof?

In the majority of cases, the freeholder or managing company tends to be responsible for the roof. However, there are instances when the leaseholder of a top-floor flat is given responsibility. In these cases, the ground floor residents tend to have responsibility for the foundations. This means that they are in charge of maintaining these areas.

Regardless of who is responsible for the roof or foundations, flat owners will likely have to pay a maintenance fee. This maintenance fee covers costs for any damage that occurs in communal areas and the building itself - including the roof. If any severe damage occurs to the roof, the landlord or managing agent will send out a letter informing you of the cost.

Benefits of Getting a Flat Survey

There are many benefits that come with getting a flay survey. While it is not a legal requirement, it can save you a lot of money in the long-run. Here are some of the main benefits to consider:

Highlights defects

The first benefit is that the survey report will highlight any potential defects and issues. Defects can potentially cost thousands to repair. Therefore, the survey can be viewed as a money-saver in the long-term. The Building Survey is the most detailed when it comes to discussing defects. On the other hand, the HomeBuyer Report will delve into basic issues noticed in the property.

Preventing repair costs

Following on from highlighting defects, the survey may also prevent high repair costs. If the building you are viewing has a major construction issue, this is likely to include a big maintenance and repair fee. Therefore, the survey will highlight this and you can decide whether the flat is worth the extra expense.

Looking at the whole block

The survey does not just consider the flat, but the flat as a whole. This means that you will have a better idea of the condition of the building, allowing you to make an informed decision.

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How to Find a Flat Surveyor?

There are many ways to find a surveyor. It’s important to start your search as soon as possible. This will allow you to make a decision that is best for you, ensuring that your surveyor is working to your needs and requirements. If you leave your search too late, you may feel rushed to hire a surveyor and will not get the service you want. Here are the best ways to find a surveyor:

Compare My Move

Compare My Move allows you to compare surveyors. We will connect you with up to 6 surveyors who are local to the property area and ready to assist you. Whether you want a HomeBuyer Report or Building Survey, our network of surveyors are regulated by RICS to ensure the best service.

Reviews

Always check the surveyor reviews. This is because the reviews will be written by actual customers who have used their services. Reviews can give you an idea of what level of service to expect.

Recommendations

Lastly, getting recommendations from family and friends can be a great way to find a surveyor. This is because you can hear the first-hand account of their surveying experience.

What are the Main Types of House Survey?

Once you have chosen your surveyor, you’ll have to decide which type of survey is best for you. There are different levels of survey that determine how much detail is provided in the report. The surveys typically follow a traffic light system where any defects are highlighted in red and positive aspects are in green. Here are the main types of house surveys:

Valuation Report

The most basic option is the Valuation Report. The surveyor will visit the property and determine an accurate valuation. This is based on the property type, condition, and location. It’s important to note that the Valuation Report is not a house survey. You will simply receive a property and mortgage valuation rather than any details on the condition of the property.

Level 1 Condition Report

The Level 1 Condition Report is the most basic survey. It is the cheapest option of the three main types of survey and will highlight any major defects. However, bear in mind that it will not delve into much detail when discussing these issues.

Level 2 HomeBuyer Report

The Level 2 HomeBuyer Report is an intermediate survey. It is best suited for newer properties that are less than 50 years old and have standard construction. The report itself will highlight any defects, delving into some detail on how they can be repaired.

Level 3 Building Survey

The Level 3 Building Survey is the most detailed option available. It is also the most expensive because of this. The Building survey highlights defects in great detail. It also contains solution suggestions, and estimates of repair costs.

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What Makes a Leasehold Property Different?

Leasehold properties tend to come with rules and regulations on the lease. These can include noise curfews, restricting pets, and maintenance fees for repairs. Therefore, having a survey will ensure that you know the condition of the flat before you move in.

Having a survey completed on your flat means you can make an informed decision. If you purchase the flat and decide that you want to withdraw from the sale, you will have to pay thousands of pounds to do so. This is because it is considered a breach of contract.

The majority of leasehold properties also have structural restrictions. This means you will not be able to make moderations to the property.

Do You Need a Survey for a New Flat?

As mentioned above, surveys are not a legal requirement. However, regardless of the age of a property, it is highly advised that you have a survey carried out. While building surveying services are more beneficial for older properties with non-standard construction, the home buyer report can be hugely beneficial for modern properties with standard construction.

Even though newer properties are less likely to have structural issues, it is still important to be aware of the condition of the property before you move in.

Surveyors may find it more difficult to conduct a survey in a flat compared to a house because there may be areas that are hard to access such as the roof. However, the communal areas should not be hard for them to assess.

Finding a Surveyor

At Compare My Move, we can connect you with up to six regulated surveyors. You can compare quotes and save money on your surveying fees.

Nicola Ryan

Written by Nicola Ryan

Nicola focusses on all things moving house at Compare My Move where she writes articles for the advice centre, guiding users through everything they need to know about moving house.

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