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Why do I need a home survey?

As a first time buyer, your first home purchase is probably the most significant and most important financial transaction you will have made to date.

Why do I need a home survey?

Seek advice

With such a life-changing financial commitment it is therefore important to seek advice from an experienced and qualified property surveyor; this will give you peace of mind that the property you are buying is not only a suitable home for you, but is also a sound financial investment.

A property is a big purchase

As your home is probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, it is worth investing a relatively small sum to ensure it is a sound investment.

After spending a significant amount of money on a property, the last thing you’ll want to do is spend even more on repair work, which could prove to be expensive and time consuming, if problems aren’t resolved quickly.

Getting a house survey from a Chartered Surveyor will provide expert advice and flag any faults with the property, allowing you to decide whether the house would still be a good investment once you know its full state of repair.

Mortgage valuations are not sufficient

It is vital to remember that a mortgage valuation is exclusively on behalf of the lender to confirm the property’s worth and whether the mortgage would be secure. This survey type will not reveal any structural problems in the property that may be costly to fix.

A home survey can potentially save you thousands of pounds in future repair bills, particularly if your chartered surveyor is able to spot any construction or condition problems in the early stages such as dry rot, damp, cracked chimneys etc. The technical expertise and local knowledge of a chartered surveyor is a critical investment to minimise the risks before committing yourself legally and financially to the home of your dreams.

Our article outlining the different types of surveys available offers more information on the differences between a mortgage valuation and a survey from a Chartered Surveyor.

Types of Survey

There are three types of home survey available for first time buyers to choose from, as regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). These are:

  • RICS Condition Report – This is a basic condition survey that will highlight only serious or urgent property defects. It is usually recommended only for relatively new and conventionally constructed properties.
  • RICS HomeBuyer Report – This provides a more detailed survey of the property and an outline of any defects or issues that your surveyor believes will affect the value of the property. It also includes recommendations for repair or maintenance, where required.
  • RICS Building Survey – This is a more detailed report on the condition of the property and the standard of its construction; it is particularly recommended for older or run-down properties. You should also consider a Building Survey if you are considering extensive renovations or conversions to the existing building.  
If you want to see a more detailed comparison of the surveys, take a look at our article, "What type of survey do I need?" 

First time buyers purchasing a property in a new area of the country are encouraged to search for a chartered surveyor that has expert local knowledge of the region you are moving into. At reallymoving.com we can supply instant survey quotes to first time buyers from reliable RICS-accredited surveyors in close proximity to the postcode of your new property.

Depending on the age of your chosen property you may wish to choose a chartered surveyor who specialises in older properties. Surveyors are also qualified to advise first time buyers on alterations or conversions, and often have knowledge of local planning issues you may encounter upon purchasing the property and its surrounding land. If you opt for a full Building Survey, your surveyor will tailor it to the individual property and your plans for it. 

Advises on repair work

A house survey could save you thousands of pounds in costly repair bills in the future if any problems existing in the property are spotted and treated early.

The HomeBuyer Report will provide condition ratings, advising on how urgent repairs are needed for each aspect of the property. The Building Survey comments on all defects in the property, what the defects could mean and costs for remedial work.

Your Chartered Surveyor will also offer advice on preventing future damage, and maintenance work for your property.

Opportunity to renegotiate price

Should there be any issues raised by your surveyor, you can discuss options with the seller. It’s typical to negotiate one of two resolutions: either the seller agrees to accept a lower offer price for the property, or they agree to carry out the required repairs as a condition of the sale. In the latter case, this agreement would usually be confirmed in writing as part of the legal contract.

Your negotiations can take into account the cost of the necessary repair work, reducing the purchase price by a similar amount. Alternatively, you may wish for the remedial work to be completed by the current vendor before you exchange.

Your RICS survey report will equip you with the expert information to enter negotiations.

Peace of mind

By advising you about the problems with the property and remedial work necessary to ensure your home is in a good condition, a house survey will give you the peace of mind that you have the sufficient information to enter into the purchase with confidence.

Additionally, should you find that the issues with the building are too expensive or demanding to remedy, getting a house survey will make you aware of this before you have moved in, not come as an unwanted surprise after you have bought it.

It is up to you, the buyer, to organise a detailed, independent survey to see if there are any structural problems. To start the process of getting a house survey on your property, compare quotes from Chartered Surveyors for Building Surveys and HomeBuyer Reports with reallymoving.com.

Updated July 2017

Comments (2)

  • Richard

    posted on 25 Feb 2018

    I've recently had a homebuyers report done on a house we're looking to buy which came back with a 1 for everything (minus things they couldn't find a certificate for). As the property is 200 years old a lot of friends/family are saying I should also get a building survey, but this seems silly to me as the homebuyers report stated no problems. Are they correct given the age of the property or will I just be wasting my money!?

    Reallymoving response

    Hi Richard,
    This really is up to you - Building Surveys are the correct survey for a house of that age, and a HomeBuyer's Report would not have assessed certain elements that may be critical. It is surprising that the Chartered Surveyor did not suggest a Building Survey instead of a HomeBuyer's Report upon seeing the property.
    If you'd like to know more about what a Building Survey may consider that a HomeBuyer's Report does not, you can have a look at our articles.
    Best of luck,

    Keith Husband

    posted on 5 Dec 2018

    Hi, when do I organise an RICS survey? Is it before or after the acceptance of an offer ?

    Reallymoving response

    You will organise a RICS survey after your offer is accepted. The surveyor will then assess the property and you can decide if you still wish to go ahead, or whether the terms of the offer need to be changed (ie whether you wish to renogiate to cover costs of issues discovered in the survey).

    All the best with your move,

    the reallymoving team

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