This guide covers everything you'll need to know about a Building Survey, including:
- What is a building survey
- What's involved
- What they check
- How much does it cost
What is a Building Survey / Structural Survey?
Previously known as a full Structural Survey, a Building Survey is a wide-ranging inspection of a property. Occasionally, home buyers will use the former term, Structural Survey, to refer to a Building Survey. Regardless of which term you use, it is the most comprehensive of the surveys available for residential properties and will provide a detailed evaluation of a property’s condition.
The Building Survey report will describe the condition of each element of the house and identify the property’s defects, their apparent cause, the urgency of repair, maintenance options and may also include an indication of the cost to repair.
Although the most expensive survey, a Building Survey is the most comprehensive and detailed evaluation of a property’s condition and construction.
Building Surveys are conducted by Chartered Surveyors. It is important to check that the surveyor you select is regulated by RICS, as they set the guidance for surveyors and this will ensure that the advice you are getting is independent, expert advice from appropriately trained professionals. You can get quotes from RICS Chartered Surveyors for your Building Survey through reallymoving.com.
Building Surveys / Structural Surveys are suitable for all properties, but they are particularly appropriate for:
Listed Buildings – a building that is on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Older Properties – recommended for properties over 50 years old
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
What is involved?
A full Building Survey will include:
The survey will inspect all visible and accessible parts of a building, including roofs, walls, floors, windows and doors, chimneys, cellars, garages and outbuildings. Surveyors have a legal responsibility to discover and inform of any major problems with a property, so during the building inspection surveyors will actively search for potential problems and building defects.
This includes looking into cupboards and manholes, and an inspection of the services but it does not, however, investigate enclosed or concealed parts of a building, such as sealed roof spaces.
You can request that certain areas are included to cover particular concerns that you may have about the property. In contrast to the RICS HomeBuyer Report, there is no specific format for the Building Survey report, so the surveyor is able modify a Building Survey to your needs.
If you wish to have a property valuation included in your survey it will have to be specified, however, if the surveyor you use for the Building Survey is approved by your mortgage lender it can be used instead of a mortgage valuation.
Aspects of a Building Survey
Here is a list of the aspects that are included in a Building Survey if relevant:
Most important and more insignificant defects and what they could mean
Results of tests for damp in the walls
Alterations to supporting walls
Renovations that have occurred without necessary planning permission
Presence of hazardous materials (e.g. asbestos)
Evidence of subsidence
Damage to masonry and roof
Damage to timbers
Large trees close to the property.
Woodworm, dry rot and other damage to timbers
The conditions of existing damp proofing, insulation and advice on non-tested drainage
Information on the materials used to build the property and any relevant technical information
Recommendations for further investigations on the property
The report, however, will not report in detail on aspects such as heating or electrical equipment, but if requested your surveyor can arrange for the suitable expert to investigate these further.
The Building Survey, due to its thoroughness, can take up to a day to complete and the final report can take up to two weeks to receive. The report will disclose the findings of the survey and make recommendations for if further specialist surveys are required. The thoroughness of the survey also makes it the most costly house survey available, however, by comparing quotes for Chartered Surveyors you can save yourself money and find a quality surveyor who operates in your area. The cost of the Building Survey will depend on the price of the property.
The Building Survey Structural Report
When the survey has been completed, your surveyor will produce a final report which will reveal whether the inspection has discovered any major and minor defects that are compromising the structural integrity of the building. The report will identify and describe the problems and their cause, provide recommendations for further investigation and an indication of repair costs, and state what could happen if the problem is not remedied.
Cost of a Building Survey / Structural Survey
The full Building/ Structural Survey cost will vary from £500 to £1,300; the survey cost will depend on the property type, size and location. To save you money on your survey, compare fees by filling in our simple and quick form and receive up to four instant quotes from our RICS regulated Chartered Surveyors.
If you’re not sure which survey is right for you – talk to a RICS surveyor as they can give you independent advice on which survey would be the most suitable for you and your property.
If you are buying a property it is vital to employ the expert knowledge of a surveyor before completion, to ensure that you are receiving independent advice on the true condition of your potential property. The comprehensive investigation that the Building Survey involves may uncover a structural problem with the property that would otherwise go unnoticed until you have moved in, so make sure that you get a house survey to prevent any unwanted, and costly, surprises.
If you're looking to get an idea of all your moving costs be sure to check out our moving cost calculator.
Updated March 2017