7 Things an RICS Home Buyer’s Survey Can Tell You

Congratulations! You’ve had an offer accepted on a property, you’ve arranged a Solicitor and now you’re being recommended to book an RICS Home Survey – so what will they tell you?

There are two types of survey available -an RICS Building Survey or an RICS HomeBuyer Report. The type of survey you undertake will depend on the age, style and condition of the property you are buying. Here is the information they will provide you with:


HomeBuyer Reports and Building Surveys both include a physical inspection of the property, where the Surveyor will look for any signs of defects. There is an endless list of potential issues that could be discovered within the property and many could be hidden or underlying. Some of the defects a Surveyor will look for are: structural movement, windows, flat roofs, loft conversions, chimney stacks, chimney breasts, removed chimney breasts, timber decay caused by insect attack, electrical installation, trees, mold, damp, leaks and hazardous materials. You can read more about these defects in our recent article: 10 Potentially Serious Defects to Look For When Purchasing Your Home

According to Surveyors in the UK, the three most common problems that a homebuyer may discover if they buy a property without a comprehensive Building Survey are: damp (33%), problems with the roof structure  (23%) and subsidence (15%).

2. Legal Issues

As part of both a Building Survey and HomeBuyer Report, the Surveyor will record any issues with the property that may be of concern to your Solicitor or Conveyancer. This could include extensions or alterations that would have required planning permission, issues with access to the property, issues with party walls, whether or not any damp proofing or timber treatment has been carried out in the past, certification of electrical installations or issues with property boundaries.

3. Repair Estimates

 Your Surveyor may include repair estimates for any defects they highlight in your report. This is helpful as it quantifies the repairs needed and allows you to go back to the vendor, to renegotiate the repair bill off of your purchase price. Not all Surveyors include repair estimates, as the reports they produce are very detailed and therefore you can instead use them to obtain more accurate quotes from local tradesman.

4. Market Value

A HomeBuyer Report will give an independent market valuation of the property. This can sometimes also be included within a Building Survey, only if the Surveyor is also an RICS registered Valuer.

Unlike an estate agents valuation or a mortgage valuation, this is far more accurate and substantiated. The Surveyor would have thoroughly inspected the property and will understand the condition, as well as any defects which may be affecting the property value. Understanding the market value will ensure that you pay the right amount for the property.

5. Reinstatement Value

A HomeBuyer Report will include a reinstatement value of the property. This figure is the cost of totally rebuilding the property, including labour and material. The reinstatement value is used for arranging buildings insurance, to ensure there is appropriate cover for the property.

6. Advice on Extensions

 Your Surveyor may be able to include advice on any extensions you are considering, as part of your Building Survey or HomeBuyer Report. They will be able to warn you of any issues or defects they feel may affect your plans, as well as giving practical advice about the feasibility of your plans. They may even be able to give you a rough estimate of how much they think the project will cost.

7. Other Surveys Required

An RICS home survey is an initial, comprehensive look at the property. Following this, your Surveyor will recommend specialist surveys based on defects they suspect or have found in the property.

Damp and timber specialist – this is the most common report for older properties and is usually recommended when the Surveyor gets high moisture readings in the property. Moisture can lead to a variety of problems, such as damp, rising damp and beetle infestation. Seek a member of the BWPDA to complete this type of survey.

The central heating system – this type of survey will be recommended on central heating systems that are old or in poor condition. Seek a member of the CORGI to complete this type of survey.

The Electrical Installation – this type of survey is often recommended if there is a lack of certification, evidence of DIY additions, lack of earth bonding or just the presence of older re-wireable fuses. Seek a member of the NICEIC to complete this type of survey.

Structural survey or inspection – this type of survey is different from a Building Survey and is completed by a structural engineer. It is recommended if there is evidence of recent or progressive movement. Seek a member of the Institution of Structural Engineers to complete this type of survey and ask them to look specifically at the problem highlighted by the Surveyor, rather than the whole property.

Roof – this type of survey is recommended when the Surveyor cannot properly inspect the roof, for butterfly roofs, roofs with shallow pitches or roofs in very poor condition.

About the Author:

Zak Arden is the Managing Director of surveybooker.com is a national online brokerage for RICS home surveys. Book your HomeBuyer Report or Building Survey today, by visiting the surveybooker.com website or by contacting Zak Arden on 0333 011 6683.