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House Surveys - What Type of Survey Do I Need?

Martha Lott

Written by Reviewed by Mike Ashton

29th Oct 2020 (Last updated on 22nd Mar 2023) 6 minute read

House surveys highlight any repair work or issues with the property you're buying.

There are 3 levels of property surveys including RICS Home Survey Level 1, 2 and 3. The type of survey you'll need will depend on the property you're buying.

This article explains the main types of house survey, what property it's best suited to, and the house survey costs.

  1. Types of House Surveys
  2. House Survey Costs
  3. What Does a House Survey Include?
  4. Do I Need A Survey For A New Build?
  5. Do I Really Need A Survey?
  6. Do You Need a Survey When Buying a Flat?
  7. Is a Mortgage Valuation Enough?
  8. What Survey Would I Need in Scotland?
  9. How Much Money Can A Survey Save You?
  10. Learn More About Surveying
  11. How to Find a Surveyor

Types of House Surveys

We’ve featured an overview of each house survey available below to help you learn which survey you need.

RICS Home Survey Level 1 - (Condition Report)

The Level 1 Survey is the most basic and therefore cheapest RICS survey available.

  • Most suitable for newer, conventional properties with no previous issues.
  • Modern houses or flats will need this survey.
  • Condition Report provides an overview of a property’s condition.
  • Notes any significant problems, but not in great detail.
  • Used to complete a mortgage valuation and provides a ‘traffic light’ system to indicate the state of the property.
  • No advice or valuation is given, only obvious defects and the condition of the services like gas and water supply.

To learn more, read condition report.

RICS Home Survey Level 2 - (HomeBuyers Report)

A Level 2 Survey is the next step up from a Level 1.

  • Suited for properties built less than 50 years ago.
  • Highlights any major issues with the property such as subsidence or damp.
  • Looks at hidden issues both internally and externally.
  • Looks at issues that are surface level and won’t check under floorboards or behind walls.
  • Your surveyor will mark any major issues as a ‘3’ in the report.
  • Includes a valuation if you specify you want one at the same time, although this can be done separately via your mortgage lender.

To learn more, read homebuyer report.

RICS Home Survey Level 3 - (Building Survey)

A Level 3 Survey is more detailed than a Level 2 or Level 1.

  • Best suited to older homes or non-standard construction houses.
  • Thatched cottages, steel frame houses or PRC properties.
  • Examine the type of material used in construction.
  • Looks at the condition of the roof, the integrity and structure of the walls and the state of the floors.
  • Your report will detail each aspect that the surveyor has looked at. The condition of that aspect will be reviewed and any recommendations that they have.
  • If requested the report may also contain cost considerations for the elements included.
  • Not to be confused with a structural survey.

To learn more, read building survey.

House Survey Costs

Below we’ve provided the individual costs for each survey. It includes an overview of each property survey and which property it’s best suited for.

Type of SurveyAverage Survey Costs

What Property Is It Suited For?

Level 1


Conventional and newer properties.

Level 2


Low-risk properties - modern houses and flats built less than 50 years ago.

Level 3


High-risk properties over 50 years old. Properties requiring renovation or extension work.

Average costs from Compare My Move research, How Much Does a House Survey Cost? based on a house costing £200,000-£300,000. It should be noted that survey costs will vary depending on your personal situation, property and area.

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What Does a House Survey Include?

The table below explains what to expect from each survey and what your surveyor checks for. This will help you pick which type of survey you need when buying a house.

What's Included?Level 1Level 2Level 3
Completed by a RICS Chartered Surveyor.YesYesYes

Allows buyers to be fully informed on the property’s condition.




Identifies problems that could help with price negotiations.




Provides a condition rating of the property.




Highlights issues needing urgent attention.




Provides advice for your legal advisers.




Provides professional advice from the surveyor.



Includes a report on construction and structural defects.Yes
Includes a market valuation.Yes
Suitable for any property type.Yes
Informs mortgage lenders whether the property is suitable security.

Do I Need A Survey For A New Build?

You’ll need a Snagging Survey if you're buying a new build home. This will typically cost £300 but can vary. As the property you’re moving into will be brand new, there isn’t a need for a Level 2 or 3 Survey as there shouldn’t be any structural damage.

The survey highlights defects like damage to paintwork or small unfinished jobs throughout the property. In some cases, there may be more major issues uncovered like large cracks in work surfaces or poorly fitted appliances. Whatever has been compiled into the snagging list can then be used to negotiate with the developer. This will allow them to complete the work before the sale is finalised and before you move in.

Compare My Move can connect you with up to 6 RICS or RPSA regulated Snagging Surveyors to help when buying a new build.

    To learn more, read snagging list.

    Do I Really Need A Survey?

    It’s not a legal requirement to get a property survey but it’s recommended. A property survey will highlight any issues before you commit to purchasing. As the seller isn’t under any legal obligation to disclose any damages or defects, it can be risky to buy a property without conducting a survey. You can then re-negotiate the offer or even pull out if the survey reveals bad results.

    If you’re buying a property using a mortgage, you'll be required by the mortgage lender to have a valuation at least. There are many issues a surveyor can detect that, when gone unnoticed, could cost you greatly in the future. By conducting a survey you can prepare for these or potentially even back out of the sale if it’s above your budget.

    Do You Need a Survey When Buying a Flat?

    You will need a property survey on a flat, which one will depend on the type and age of the flat.

    • If you’re buying a purpose-built flat, you will need a HomeBuyers Report (Level 2).
    • If you’re buying a converted flat that was once a period property, then you’ll need a Building Survey (Level 3)

    Is a Mortgage Valuation Enough?

    A mortgage valuation is a very basic inspection to provide an accurate idea of its value. It is not a property survey and won’t provide any comment on the building’s structure or condition. It’s often vital for acquiring a mortgage.

    To learn more, read valuation report.

    What Survey Would I Need in Scotland?

    In Scotland, sellers must order the Home Report. It must be carried out before a sale is complete to ensure that buyers are aware of the property's condition.

    The Home Report is made up of a single survey, an energy performance certificate and a property questionnaire.

    The single survey provided will produce reports like that of a HomeBuyers Report, with similar issues and defects being recorded.

    To learn more, read home report.

    How Much Money Can A Survey Save You?

    A property survey can save you on average £5,750 in repair work, research by RICS discovered. 4 in 5 homeowners buy properties without having a property survey. The average spend on unexpected repair costs is almost £6,000.

    As a survey will give highlight any repair work, this allows you to negotiate on the cost of the property. This can ultimately save you thousands of pounds in repairs.

    Learn More About Surveying

    This has been part of our guide to surveying. Next, we take a look at the RICS Home Survey Level 1. To learn more read What is a Condition Report (Level 1 Survey)?

    How to Find a Surveyor

    Save on Your Property Survey

    Speak to a RICS Surveyor Today

    You should only ever hire a property surveyor that’s regulated by RICS. Compare My Move only work with RICS registered surveyors. This means you’re only ever connected with up to 6 RICS surveyors to help save you money and time.

    The best ways to find a surveyor are:

    • RICS website - They’ll be regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
    • Comparison websites - This will help you to compare costs and save money.
    • Recommendations - Ask people you can trust for surveyor recommendations.
    • Read reviews - You can read our partners’ reviews on Compare My Move.
    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.

    Mike Ashton

    Reviewed by Mike Ashton

    Director, Cambridge Building Surveyors

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

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