A complete guide to the costs of buying a property

Once your offer on a property has been accepted, it is important to have a house survey carried out.

What is a property survey?

A property survey assists you in understanding the condition of the building you are buying and to establish if there are any problems that need to be addressed – i.e. the general condition of the property and whether it has any structural problems.

You will also need a valuation report from your mortgage lender, which is different to a survey in that it will only establish if the property offers sufficient security to cover your loan.

Register today! Be amongst the first to see new and off-market homes for sale in your area.

Do you need a property survey?

Property surveys are not mandatory, but it is highly recommended that you have one as part of the process of buying a property. If you don’t, you will have no idea of the condition of the property aside from what is visible to the naked eye. Most older properties will have some wear and tear, for example. A survey may find issues that could make you rethink your decision to buy the property, renegotiate the price or ask the seller to fix before the completion of the sale.

What are the different types of survey?

House surveys are conducted by qualified surveyors who are members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). There are three different levels of survey that you can commission:

RICS Home Survey - Level 1

This is the most basic of property surveys. It costs around £300 and is suited to more modern properties that are in a good condition. The survey report provides an overview of the property’s condition but does not go into detail. A traffic light ratings system is employed in a Level 1 survey, indicating the severity of a problem and what needs urgent attention.

RICS Home Survey - Level 2/RPSA Home Condition Survey

Better known as the ‘Home buyers survey’ or ‘Home buyers report’, this is the most popular survey among prospective buyers. It is suitable for modern as well as older properties that are deemed to be in a reasonable condition.

It is a non-intrusive report so will only look at parts of the property that are readily available – so not behind walls, loft space or under floorboards. The home buyers survey will include maintenance advice as well as necessary repairs that are needed. It is a useful report for highlighting issues such as cracks, damp or subsidence, and any areas that do not meet building regulations.

The cost of a home buyers survey start at around £400 but will rise for more expensive or larger properties. It is worthwhile paying for this level of report if there are some concerns you have about the property you are going to buy, or if it is an older property.

RICS Home Survey - Level 3/RPSA Building Survey

A Level 3 RICS survey is a full structural survey useful for older, rare or unusual properties or properties in a poor condition. If you are planning significant work in a property it may be more useful to get this type of survey. It is a more intrusive report that will look at the loft/attic space as well as under the floorboards.

This is what you get with a Level 3 survey:

  • a full breakdown of the structure of a property and its condition
  • detailed information about how the property has been constructed, the materials used, the condition of the foundations, roof and walls
  • advice about repairs and maintenance that is needed

A structural survey typically costs between £600 and £1,500.

Frequently asked questions

What do they check on a property survey?

Things like the condition of the roof, external and internal walls, windows, floors and stairs. The level of detail a surveyor will provide will depend on the type of survey you have asked to be undertaken.

Are property surveys worth it?

Yes. If your property survey reveals some major defects or structural issues with the property this could save you some big surprises after you move in. Even if it is not possible to renegotiate the sale price, you will be prepared for the cost of the repairs and maintenance that is required.

Can I buy a house without a survey?

Yes, there is no legal requirement to have a property survey, but it is recommended that prospective property purchasers undertake one.

How long does a house survey take?

The length of time it takes to conduct a property survey will depend on the complexity of the survey. A Level 1 survey will only take around an hour to complete; a Level 2 home buyers survey will take between 1-4 hours, and a Level 3 structural survey could take up to 8 hours.

Who pays for a house survey?

The buyer pays for the survey after they have had an offer accepted on the property.

Do I need a survey on a new build property?

It is worthwhile to get a ‘snagging survey’ for a new build, just for your peace of mind. This will cost around £300-500 and should be conducted by an independent surveyor. If they find anything that needs repairing, you can ask the construction contractor to do this before you move in.

What’s the difference between a house survey and a mortgage valuation?

Mortgage valuations involve checking that a property is worth its sale price and offers sufficient security for a lender on the risk of the mortgage loan. Property surveys are far more thorough and are for the benefit of the people buying the property.

Finding a property surveyor

Your estate agents can provide a list of recommended chartered surveyors in your area. You could also use the ‘Find a surveyor’ search on the RICS website.

Find your next home with Darlows

If you are interested in buying a property contact your local Darlows branch today.