What type of survey do I need?

Don’t worry: you won’t be the first (or last) to ask. The range of surveys can seem confusing but they actually have very clear parameters and provide different levels of information and, as a consequence, reassurance.

The most common are a Building Survey, Homebuyer Survey or a Standard Valuation Report.

A Building Survey (formerly called a Structural Survey) is a bespoke service suitable for all residential and commercial properties; this survey will give you full details of a properties construction and condition.This type of survey is preferable if for example the property is unusually built, is in an extremely poor condition, has been significantly altered or if a major conversion or renovation of the property is planned.

It details technical information on materials and construction, as well as details of any defects be it significant or insignificant found to be present at the property and will advise on what measures/actions or specialist assistance that will be required to put right.

The RICS Homebuyer survey includes an inspection of the property to enable a report and opinion of value to be provided.The report is produced in a standardised format, which has been produced via the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

This type of survey would be ideal for houses, bungalows and flats that are of a traditional type and construction; and are considered to be in a reasonable condition. It identifies what the surveyor considers to be the most important issues. By applying condition ratings to elements of the building, the services and any garages and permanent outbuildings, the surveyor will tell you whether defects are serious or urgent.

It also includes the surveyor’s opinion of the market value and reinstatement cost (which you will need for insurance purposes). It focuses on matters that in the surveyor’s opinion, may affect the value of the property if they are not dealt with.

A more detailed description of this service is available on the RICS website

This type of report is more basic and comments on the size, location, value and reinstatement cost.It would be used by mortgage lenders, but you must also ensure that your lender will accept this valuation for lending purposes, as some lenders do prefer to use their own surveyors.

This type of report would also be useful for someone wishing to obtain an accurate valuation of their property assets for example, updating their own personal financial accounts or property portfolios.