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What is the difference between a HomeBuyer Report and a Building Survey?

  1. Terry G from Leeds
  2. Surveying Process questions and answers


We are looking at buying our first home and are not sure if we need a Building Survey or if a HomeBuyer Report? Will the HomeBuyer report give us everything we need or is it better to get both? We have been told that the Reports are easier to understand but we do not want to miss out on important information if we just go for the simpler to read route. Can someone explain the main differences between the HomeBuyer Report and Building Survey with any major pros and cons?


A Building Survey is a customized service suitable for all residential properties and gives full details of their construction and condition.  You are likely to need this type of survey if, for example, the property is unusually built or run-down, if the property has been significantly altered, or if you are planning a major conversion or renovation. 

The RICS Homebuyer Report is a standard format, and is different to a Building Survey in three main ways.

  1. It is designed for particular types of home. These are houses, bungalows and flats that are of a tradition type and construction and are apparently in reasonable condition.

  2. 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.

  3. It can also include 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. As of 2016, market valuations are an optional choice and buyers can choose whether they would like the full HomeBuyers Report with, or without, the valuation.

reallymoving comment:

To find out further information about the different aspects of the Homebuyer Report and the Building Survey and which would be more appropriate for the property you purchase, take a look at our article, What Type of Survey do I Need?

Garrett O'Hanlon

Garrett O'Hanlon

MAP Chartered Surveyors

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Comments (11)

  • Wayne Norcliffe

    posted on 30 Sep 2012

    Also worth noting that there is a 'third way', i.e. the RICS Home Condition Report. This is similar to the Homebuyer report, but does not include the valuations and as such may be cheaper than a Homebuyer report. It's a similar format, i.e. prioritises the sections by red, amber green (3,2,1). It's another tool in the buyer's armoury Best regards Wayne Norcliffe BA (Hon's) DipHI Reg. Valuer, MIPP, MRICS

    Kate Dickens

    posted on 10 Feb 2013

    Quite a useful reply but any need to say the same thing three times?!

    Reallymoving response

    Thank you for pointing this out, Kate. We've corrected this now.

    james mathieson

    posted on 25 Feb 2017

    Your website is really interesting, my daughter will be selling her flat very shortly and we didn't know what a home report was, but it's very interesting and gave us a good insight with what to expect. Many Thanks

    emma fletcher

    posted on 19 Jul 2017

    Hi I am purchasing a property in solihull and would like a quote for a home buyers building survey Kind regards Emma fletcher

    Reallymoving response

    Hi Emma,
    You can find quotes here
    Best of luck,

    Lynn Hughes

    posted on 20 Sep 2017

    Hi I would appreciate your comments, I am in the process of buying a property with my Son & Daughter in Law. They will have the House and I will have a barn to convert, which has planning consent. Do you recommend a separate survey on the Barn to ensure all is ok for conversion?. Thank you

    Reallymoving response

    Hi Lynn,
    We would recommend either ensuring the house survey includes the barn, or as you say, having a survey on the barn itself. As you say, you'll be living in this conversion, and if there were elements that could not be converted, or would make living in the barn uncomfortable, that would cause issues with the decision to buy. Explain to your surveyor what you're looking for, and they will be able to help.
    Good luck on your move,
    the reallymoving team


    posted on 10 Oct 2017

    Hello there. Thanks for your article. We are unsure whether to get a building survey or just a home report - the home we are purchasing was a two bedroom bungalow, but has been extensively renovated to include the upstairs three rooms, bathroom and shower room. What would you recommend we do with regards to the survey? Many thanks for your reply. Jemima.

    Reallymoving response

    Hi Jemima, 

    Thanks for getting in touch - traditionally, Building Surveys are for older properties and are more in depth. HomeBuyer's Reports are obviously still to a high standard, and are for more recent properties. The best thing to do is ask a Chartered Surveyor for their opinion on your property and which survey is best for you.
    Best of luck,
    the reallymoving team

    Joti Sanyal

    posted on 11 Oct 2017

    We are first time buyers, the house we are purchasing was built in 1965 and is standard construction with a tiled roof. Our home buyers report flagged up questions about the electrics, gas and heating and we are in the process of requesting the certificates for the above. Do we also need a survey done if the home buyers report didn't question anything else? Many thanks, Joti and Nicholas

    Reallymoving response

    Hi Joti and Nicholas,

    A HomeBuyer's Report is a type of survey, so if you have had this, you have completed the necessary surveys. 

    Best of luck with the move,
    the reallymoving team


    posted on 4 Aug 2018

    I see from your answer to the original question that a Homebuyers report might be the best thing for my daughter (a 1st time buyer) who is looking at a 2 bed 19th century mid-terrace. It appears to be structurally sound, however the rear of the upstairs bathroom slopes down slightly and I wonder if any issues would be picked up via the Homebuyers report or would it be best to get a full Building Survey.

    Reallymoving response

    Hi Terry,

    It's likely that something like that would be picked up by either report, but for a 19th century property, it may be worth getting a Building Report to get more detail. Some first time buyers want the extra security of a more thorough report, but bear in mind that a Chartered Surveyor will often recommend talking to a specific professional if any surprising issues become apparent with the building (plumber, electrician, structural engineer), whether that's in a Home Report or Building Report.

    Best of luck,


    Charlotte Geen

    posted on 18 Jan 2019

    We are buying a 1960 mid terrace house and are trying to decide which survey we should go for? Homebuyers or building? Thank you.

    Reallymoving response

    Hi Charlotte,

    It really depends on what you intend to do with the property, how much information you require and what condition the property is in. As a 1960s property isn't particularly old, it may be well served by a HomeBuyer's Report, which is more basic. However, if it has had work done to it, (additions or conversions etc) or you plan to make changes to it when you buy it, a more in depth Building Survey may be a good idea.

    All the best with your move,

    Kelly Green

    posted on 13 Mar 2019

    Hello, My Mother will be purchasing her first property soon. I believe it to be built in the late 1800s. It is mid terrace and seems to be in sound condition and has been well looked after internally. However, either side of the property have had new roofs put on some point in the past and this property has the original slate roof. I would like a survey that includes the roof condition, would a homebuyers report look at a roof condition or does she need a full building survey? Many Thanks.

    Reallymoving response

    Hi Kelly,

    A Building Survey is more in depth and is probably the better option here. You can let your surveyor know that the roof is a priority for you.

    Best of luck,


    posted on 23 Oct 2019

    Hi we are buying a new build due for completion in 2 months. Which survey would you recommend?

    Reallymoving response

    Hi Natalie,

    For new builds we would usually recommend a HomeBuyer Report as those are better for newer properties. You could also consider a snagging survey which is an assessment of elements of the new build to ensure everything is finished to your specifications before moving in day.

    Kind regards,

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