Types of House Surveys & Is a Survey Required to Sell a House?
Looking at the different types of house surveys available, from homebuyer reports to building surveys, and how it can affect your home sale.
Alexandra Ventress ★ Digital Content Writer
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When it comes to putting your home on the market, an aspect that you may not be looking forward to is the house survey. These house surveys come in many forms, covering different aspects of your property, and highlighting any issues you may have. If you are worried about the results of these surveys possibly derailing your sale, then you may have questions about what the process involves and how it can affect you.
In this blog post we will be looking at selling house survey, the different types of house surveys available, and whether you need one in order to sell your house.
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Is a house survey a legal requirement?
A house survey is a document that details the condition of a property, looking into any red flags it may have, that have the potential to cause issues later down the line. There are many different types of house surveys that you can have done to your property.
You may get a survey done when you are buying a house, in order to ensure you are not purchasing a problem property.
Whether you are selling or buying a property, getting a home survey performed is heavily recommended although it is not recommended. If you are selling your home and you do not wish to have a home survey performed, then you may run into trouble as buyers may be less likely to buy as they may feel as though the property has something to hide.
Who performs the survey?
The survey will be performed by a qualified surveyor, who will either be a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), or the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA).
How many types of surveys are there?
When it comes to selling your home, there are 4 main types of house surveys that you will be more than likely dealing with. Each of these surveys plays an important role in the house-selling process and highlights a different aspect of the property you are selling. These are as follows:
- Condition Report – This survey provides a simplistic ‘traffic light’ system for the condition of the property
- Homebuyer Report: This is a slightly more in-depth survey with far more details. This report will recommend any further investigations that may need to take place and offer advice on a budget for any repairs that may need to take place.
- Building Survey – This is a comprehensive in-depth survey of the property, also known as a full structural survey. It is one of the more expensive surveys.
- New Build snagging survey – If you have a new build then this survey will more than likely take place. Its purpose is to illuminate any issues that the property may have.
What are the different types of surveys?
As we have already mentioned, there are a number of different types of house surveys available when selling your home. Exactly what survey your buyer may choose will depend upon them, the depth of survey they want, as well as the budget, age and condition of the property. Until 2021, there were 3 types of property surveys available. These were the Home Buyer Report, Condition Report, and Building Survey. However, these names have since changed, so below we take a closer look into the survey types, names, and what they involve:
A level 1 survey is suitable for people who are purchasing a typically conventional property that is made from common building materials. Previously referred to as a Condition Report, this is the most basic survey available and is the cheapest.
This survey will provide you with a ‘traffic light system’ that rates different areas of the property, looking at services, grounds, and any prob;e,s that may require attention. It will also provide you with a summary of the risks that the property may bring but it doesn’t provide too much detail.
Once referred to as a Home Buyer Report or Homebuyer Survey, a Level 2 survey that is popular with those who are purchasing a conventional property that appears to be in a reasonable condition. This survey covers everything that you would typically receive in a Level 1 survey but with the additional checking of roof and cellar spaces.
This survey will also provide you with recommendations about any further steps that will need to be taken, as well as the cost of the repairs that need to be made, market value, and a reinstatement figure for insurance.
An RPSA Home Condition Survey is the equivalent of a level 2 survey, but rather than being performed by RICS, it is done by the Residential Property Surveyors Association. These surveys are independently checked to ensure they are produced consistently and are correct. They will also provide you with information such as broadband speed, damp assessment and boundary issues.
A full structural survey, also referred to as a RICS Home Survey Level 3 and previously as a RICS Building Survey, is the most in-depth survey offered by RICS.
If your property is over 50 years old, has a slightly more unusual design, is in poor condition, or is listed, then this may be a survey that your home buyer has done. They are a more expensive survey to have done, but as a result, they are incredibly thorough.
The level 3 survey will include everything that you would receive in a RICS Home Survey Level 2, plus it will also describe any identifiable risks and causes of potential or hidden defects in areas that your surveyor has been unable to inspect. If there is any remedial work that needs to be carried out then the survey will outline the scope of it, as well as explain what will happen if no action is taken to correct this. It will also inform you about the timeline for necessary repairs and the priority.
A RPSA building survey is the most non-invasive survey from RPSA. As a part of this survey, you will get everything from the Home Condition survey, plus a more in-depth description of the construction and defects. It will also give an explanation of how to go about rectifying defects and the consequences that not doing the required work.
Exactly how much a survey will cost will depend on the type of survey, as well as the property. Below are the approximate costs of the different surveys:
|Tpye of report||Cost|
Is a mortgage valuation the same as a survey?
No, a mortgage lender’s valuation is not the same as a RICS home survey. It is simply a look over the property to assess how much it is worth. A mortgage lender will require a mortgage valuation as it ensures the property is sufficient security for the loan.
What are red flags on house survey?
When you get the results of a house survey back, there may be some red flags noted. These are issues that could either potentially occur or are already occurring in your property and will need to be remedied. Below are some of the most common issues that a RICs surveyor may come across when performing a house survey report:
Subsidence and structural issues
The biggest red flag that can be found in a house buyers survey is subsidence. Subsidence occurs when the ground beneath the property begins to compress and sink. This uneven ground can then take its toll on the home and misalign the property foundation. Subsidence is a serious safety issue for your property, as it compromises the structural integrity of the home.
Damage from subsidence can be significant and can be incredibly costly to repair. Because of this, it is often viewed as one of the worst results you can get from a survey.
Another red flag that may be present in your survey is unapproved extensions. These are building works or extensions that have been carried out without receiving the correct form of building regulations, planning permissions, or Party Wall Agreement. If this is found to be the case, then you as the seller could face serious legal penalties, such as prosecution and a fine. It would also mean that the buyer would be liable once they bought the home.
Furthermore, building work that has been performed without the relevant paperwork and documents may not be safe and poses a threat to the buyer and the seller.
Issues with the roof
Roof issues are another problem that can be highlighted during a survey. Minor defects such as cracked, loose, or missing tiles can be fixed quickly and fairly cheaply, however, more severe issues can be expensive and time-consuming to rectify.
Mould is another red flag that can pose an issue to the health and safety of those living in the property. According to information from the NHS, mould can be responsible for many different allergic reactions and irritants, as well as producing toxic substances. If you have a weakened immune system, skin conditions, or respiratory issues then you may be particularly affected.
Old wiring is not only a safety hazard to those living in the property, but it can also be expensive to replace. If significant issues with the wiring are discovered, then your surveyor may suggest you consult an electrician.
Heating system issues
As a good rule of thumb, you should have an annual gas and safety check and boiler service. If you do not have any up-to-date certificates, then you should get in touch with a professional to check the system out.
Another red flag that may be present in your home is Japanese Knotweed. Notoriously hard to get rid of it is always best to seek professional advice, as if left unattended, this invasive weed can cause structural issues to your home as well as devaluing your property.
Who pays for the issues on a housing survey?
Should you have a survey done on your property that highlights less than positive results, then it is up to the buyer whether or not they want to continue with the purchase. Should they still be interested in the property, then they may try and renegotiate the price with the seller to compensate for the cost of any repairs that may need doing.
Or the buyer may ask for you to pay for the repairs before the sale is completed.
What to Do if You're Nervous About Your Home Survey
It is normal to feel nervous about a survey being performed on your property, but it is a normal part of the selling process and is not a cause for concern. As long as your property is in reasonable condition you should have no issues during the process. It’s important that you don’t try and hide or cover up any issues from the surveyor and instead follow our tips to help you best prepare for the property survey:
One of the best ways that you can prepare for your upcoming survey is by doing a deep clean of your property. Thoroughly cleaning your property is a great way to get rid of mould, dirty tiles, stains and other issues, as well as making it easier for your surveyor to get to the areas they need to in your property.
Next on your list to prepare should be to clear your home of clutter. It’s important that your property is accessible to the surveyor, so you should be sure to move or put away anything that can cause accidents or will get in the way. You may also wish to arrange for any children or pets to stay with friends or relatives for the day whilst the survey is taking place to avoid distractions. All of the property should be easily accessible but make sure there is a clear path to the garage, attic, and shed.
Whilst you are cleaning and clearing your property, it may also be a good idea to remove any items from your window sills or fireplaces in order to allow your surveyor to be able to check them for damage.
Small issues such as damaged tiles, dripping taps, and hairline cracks can be fixed fairly easily before you put your property on the market. However, do not attempt to fix more serious issues yourself without the help of a professional.
If you suspect there are any issues with your property, you should be upfront with your surveyor about them. Surveyors know exactly what they are looking for, so you can save time by being honest and upfront with them.
Can you sell your house without a survey?
It is possible to sell your home without a survey, however, it would be incredibly difficult to do so. Many buyers on the open market are not going to want to purchase a property without being able to do even the most basic survey. Purchasing a house is one of the most expensive financial decisions a person will make in their life, and chances are they will not want to risk purchasing a home with structural issues, old wiring, subsidence, or Japanese Knotweed when they could instead have a survey performed.
If you are worried about having a survey performed on your property, it may be within your best interests to pay to have one performed so that you are aware of any pressing issues that may be present in your home. This way you can make the necessary changes and your property could potentially be worth more as a result.
Ready to sell your home?
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