What type of survey do I need?

Our guide will help you decide what type of house survey you require for the house you are buying.

What type of survey do I need?

Why is a survey important?

Your home is likely to be the biggest, most important purchase you will ever make, so it is worth paying for a property survey to check the building is sound, and the extent of repair work needed.

The advice of a Chartered Surveyor could save you a huge amount of money in expensive repairs later on, and potentially allow you to renegotiate your house offer. There are several types of survey, so understanding the differences between them will help you to pick the right survey to suit your needs.

Compared to the price of possible repair work needed, the importance the information a house survey provides significantly outweighs the cost of a HomeBuyer Report and a Building Survey.

When you employ a RICS house surveyor directly you will be issued with a survey report and own the details of the survey, allowing you to negotiate accordingly. Your independent house surveyor will also be extremely happy to discuss the results of their surveys and you will find post-sales communication easy.

To get the best price for your house survey you can compare instant quotes from RICS Chartered Surveyors.

Types of house survey

reallymoving.com recommends two types of property survey, the HomeBuyer Report and the Building Survey. The survey type that will be most appropriate for you will depend on a number of factors, such as the age, construction type and structural condition of the property.

We have created a table detailing both the HomeBuyer Report and the Building Survey. Your Chartered Surveyor will also be able to advise you on which survey would best suit you and your property.

HomeBuyer Report

  • This replaced the Homebuyer Survey and Valuation (HSV) in March 2010 and it is often still referred to as a Homebuyers Survey.

  • Suitable for modern, conventional properties in reasonable condition. Can be suitable for older properties if in reasonable state or repair.

  • Written in a standard format set out by the RICS, providing condition ratings of each element of the property

  • Rates the condition of all permanent structures in the property, e.g. garages etc.

  • Highlights important problems that could affect the property’s value

  • Market valuation and insurance rebuild costs are now optional with the new RICS HomeBuyers Report.
  • Will give on-going maintenance advice for the property

  • Provides an overview of the condition of the services based on visual inspection - they will not test the services

Building Survey

  • Also known as a Full Structural Survey - provides a thoroughly detailed report and analysis the property’s construction and condition

  • Goes into further detail than the HomeBuyer Report and can be adapted to suit your requirements

  • There is no standard format; each surveyor has their own way of presenting their report

  • Can be applied to any age of property but is particularly helpful for old, large properties built with unconventional materials

  • The Building Survey is beneficial for dilapidated properties and those that have been extensively altered. 

  • Useful if you plan to renovate or convert the property

  • Advises on defects and repairs

  • Includes advice for future maintenance

  • Does not include a valuation unless you specifically request one from the surveyor

For help on how to get a house survey, we have put together an article outlining the process of getting a house survey when buying a home.


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Mortgage or Lender’s valuation survey

You pay for this, but it is organised by your mortgage lender. They send a valuation specialist to value the property to determine whether it is worth the amount you have negotiated, and whether the mortgage lender should give a mortgage on it. These can vary from ‘drive by’ valuations to a more in-depth inspection of the property.

You should note that the valuer is only concerned with problems that might affect the protection of the mortgage lender’s loan. The Mortgage Valuation is not obliged to reveal any structural problems to you. The lender simply needs to know that they can recoup their loan, if need be.

There may be problems with the property but they will not appear in the valuation report, so we strongly urge all our users to commission an independent survey that you own and can discuss further with your surveyor. For more information about the differences between a mortgage valuation survey and a more in-depth survey from a RICS Chartered Surveyor, and why you shouldn’t rely on the mortgage valuation, take a look at our article, Do I need a House Survey and a Mortgage Valuation?.

RICS Condition Report

In the spring of 2011, the RICS introduced a new type of survey called the RICS Condition Report. This is a cheaper version of the HomeBuyer Report which does not include a valuation. The RICS Condition Report shows the condition of the property and is intended to supplement the information provided with a mortgage valuation survey. 

This survey can be carried out by RICS Valuers as well as those who are not part of the RICS Valuer Registration Scheme.

Still need convincing about getting a house survey from a RICS Chartered Surveyor? Read more here: Why should I have a home survey?

Last reviewed December 2016.


  • Graham Cook says...

    posted on 13/11/2012 18:25:50

    Does a home survey include electrical wiring etc.

    Hi Graham, we have answered your question here:
    Does a home survey include electrical wiring?
    Hope this helps!

  • J Cottrell says...

    posted on 23/03/2014 11:28:49

    Can I just clarify if the Homebuyer's Report has to be set out using the traffic light system and whether there is an absolute format that must be used. I ask as I requested this report from a local Surveyor and have received a report that looks nothing like the typical format. It is detailed with photos and includes a replacement cost valuation but looks nothing like a recent homebuyer's report I requested from a different surveyor last year.

  • mrs Roslan says...

    posted on 12/03/2015 13:25:59

    could you please tell me how much extra a valuation on top of a builders survey would be thank you

  • Mrs J Powell says...

    posted on 16/04/2015 16:36:52

    I will be a cash buyer what would be the best survey Thank you

    reply from reallymoving.com: We strongly recommend that all buyers organise an independent house buyers survey. Here's a link to a similar question, answered by one of our Chartered Surveyors: Do I need a survey for a cash purchase?

  • Eva Cooper says...

    posted on 01/06/2015 14:42:39

    A home is perhaps the biggest investment in life, so you should choose it carefully. Thanks for explaining the two types of surveys. Eva

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