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What are the different types of property survey?

Often a prerequisite of a property purchase, be it commercial or residential,  a survey helps you to ascertain the condition of the building. Should the survey uncover any potential problems, you can then negotiate with the vendor.

For example, if your survey identifies that the property requires amends to the value of £10,000, you could ask the vendor to drop the selling price by this amount to allow for the cost of the repairs or, alternatively, ask them to fix the problems prior to exchanging contracts.

Why do you need a property survey?

When you’re already spending a lot of money on a property purchase, a survey can seem like an unnecessary additional expense.

However, it’s far better to be aware of any issues before you buy a house. This will ensure that you can make an informed decision about how much you’re willing to pay for the property and, if necessary, budget for any repair work.

Who carries out a property survey?

A survey should only be carried out by a qualified surveyor, who should be a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

It’s advised that you use a RICS qualified surveyor as they hold professional indemnity insurance.

Depending on the type of property being surveyed, you may wish to instruct a local surveyor, who will have expert knowledge of the area, or an expert in usual types of property such as converted lighthouses, barns or listed buildings.

What are the different types of property survey?

There are three main types of survey:

  1. A building survey – the most thorough survey, which provides a comprehensive analysis of the structure and condition of the property. Depending on the size of the property it may take a day to complete, as the surveyor will check the property in thorough detail, including looking in the loft and under the floorboards. The survey lists any defects and advises on repairs and maintenance and you can ask for the report to include projected costs and timings for any repair work

  2. A condition report – the most basic survey, which provides an overview of the property’s condition and highlights significant issues, but doesn’t go into detail. Different parts of the property are graded with a ‘traffic light’ rating system

  3. HomeBuyer’s report – more in-depth than a condition report, this type of survey takes between 2 – 4 hours to complete and will highlight any issues such as damp and subsidence, plus identify any areas of the property that do not meet current building regulations. The surveyor will only be able to identify surface-level problems. The survey will include advice on any necessary repairs and advised maintenance, plus a market valuation and rebuild cost

Of the three, the HomeBuyer’s report tends to be the most popular with buyers.

What is included in a building survey?

The most comprehensive of the three types of survey, a building survey will:

  • Describe the condition of each part of the property
  • Identify any defects, their apparent cause, the urgency of repair, maintenance options and an estimated cost to repair
  • Inspect all accessible and visible parts of a building, including the roof, chimney, windows, doors, floors and ceilings, plus any garages and outbuildings

A surveyor has a legal responsibility to discover and inform of any major problems with a property, so during the building inspection they will actively search for potential problems and building defects.

A building survey is suitable for:

  • Older properties – those over 50 years old
  • Listed buildings – a building that is on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
  • Buildings constructed in an unusual way, regardless of age
  • Buildings that you intend to renovate or change
  • Buildings that have already been renovated or significantly altered

Although the most expensive type of survey, a building survey is the most comprehensive and detailed evaluation of a property’s condition and construction.

How much does a property survey cost?

The cost of a survey will vary from company to company and will also depend on the size and location of the property.

As an estimate, you can expect to pay:

Value of property
Up to £99,000 £100,000 – £249,000 £250,000 – £349,000 £350,000 – £499,000 £500,000+
HomeBuyer’s report £350 £500 £600 £700 £950
Building survey £500 £700 £800 £900 £1,300

If you have any queries related to property surveys or or any other aspect of property management in Hertfordshire, then please contact us to discuss your concerns.


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