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Buying Home Surveys

Nov 20, 2022


Thank you for clicking on today’s property surveying blog post topic.  Today we are going to be looking at surveys through the context of property purchases.

For many, property purchases will be one of the largest investments they will ever make.

While you will go through all of the necessary financial checks with mortgage advisors, banks and lenders, not to mention legal checks with solicitors and conveyancers checking all necessary legal angles that the property may have, you will also need to instruct and employ a property surveyor to fully advise you on the property you are purchasing, thereby ensuring you are indeed making a sound investment.

Generally speaking, your mortgage lender or bank are going to be concerned that the money they lend for the property is recoverable, if indeed there was ever some form of default or non-payment on the loan.  However, they are not going to be taking an overly zealous interest in the overall structural and non-structural issues that almost all properties will have lurking within them.

Pre-purchase surveys are going to ensure a surveyor visits the property, going through it in a methodical and comprehensive manner, thereby ensuring that all defects; minor to major, structural to non-structural, serious to non serious, are all listed out for your full attention and understanding.

Within the market there are, generally speaking, two types of pre-purchase surveys that will give home buyers and property purchasers the full and necessary information they need to make an informed property purchase decision. 

We are now going to look at these in a little more detail so you are fully abreast with the terminology and labelling of these reports, hopefully helping you make an informed instruction decision and getting the best service and value for money from your property surveyor.

RICS Home Buyer Reports

An RICS Home Buyer Report is a standardized report template that has been designed by the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors).  The template of the report will more or less be the same, irrespective of the service provider you select.  Obviously, the content and information within the report will vary, depending upon the surveyor who completes it.

The report itself will see the property purchase surveyor visiting the property prior to your purchase; going through it in a comprehensive manner, starting externally, covering all elements of the façade and construction; looking at gardens, fences, trees and all other elements that make up the external parts.  They will then proceed within the property, looking at it from a top down manner, starting at the roof and working their way down to the basement, cellar or subterranean levels. 

All windows, doors, cupboards, cabinets, will be inspected, the aim being that you are fully abreast of all issues that exist within that property, irrespective of how significant they are. 

Property purchase surveyors will understand that property purchases are a significant financial ask.

As such, their aim will be to ensure that you are fully abreast of the cost you are likely to be purchasing into, irrespective of whether that cost is low, medium, or high on the scale.

Full Building Surveys

A full building survey is also commonly referred to as a full structural survey within the general public.

A full building survey is much like an RICS Home Buyer Report in its approach, the only difference being that the level of detail that the property surveyor goes into is going to far outweigh that of a RICS Home Buyer Report.

When a defect has been noted, a full building survey is going to go into a lot more depth as to what the cause, remedy and cost of making good that defect is.

Which survey is right for me?

This is a typical question that all property purchasers have.  If you find yourself asking this same question, don’t be surprised.

Here at Stokemont, we believe that full building surveys should be reserved for houses.  Alternatively, they should be reserved for your more unconventional properties such as commercial conversions, or other properties which, generally speaking, could hold a greater amount of defect or issue than average.

We believe that RICS Home Buyer Reports are perfectly placed for flats and maisonettes, irrespective of whether the flat is a purpose built or period conversion.  

The reason we take this stance here at Stokemont, is that many property purchasers think that by paying the additional cost for a full building survey will translate to better understanding and information.  Whilst this is true of a house, when it comes to a flat, there are going to be areas of the flat and building which the surveyor isn’t going to be able to inspect, by virtue of these being occupied by other flats and demises within the building.

Therefore, while you will be paying the added cost for a full building survey, you are unlikely to get the added benefit of a surveyor’s full inspection of all parts of the property.

Condition Rating Systems

Both the RICS Home Buyer Report and full building survey will use an easy to understand “traffic light” condition rating system. 

This system will go through the various elements that the property purchase surveyor inspects; setting them out in an easy to understand and follow traffic light system.

Condition Rating 1

Condition rating 1, or green on the traffic light system is the most favourable rating that the element being inspected can receive.  It effectively means that the element is in good order, not in need of any repair, maintenance or replacement.  So long as the element is maintained in the normal manner, there is unlikely to be any financial knock on effect to the property purchaser.

Condition Rating 2

Condition rating 2 is the mid level assessment and rating that a property surveyor can give the element that is being inspected.  This will be amber on the colour rating chart, effectively meaning that the element inspect does indeed need some degree of repair or making good. 

Albeit, this repair and making good is not considered to be urgent in nature by the property purchase surveyor.

In short, this means you are likely going to have to address the issue that the surveyor has noted in the near future, however, this would not be considered an urgent requirement to make good or repair upon purchase of the property.

Condition Rating 3

Condition rating 3 is the worst type of condition rating that a property purchase surveyor can give the element that is being assessed.

It is red on the colour chart and effectively means that the element inspected is in need of urgent repair or replacement.

In layman’s terms, this means that when you purchase the property, you are going to need to address the issue that the surveyor has flagged, thereby ensuring it does not become a significant issue further down the line.

Condition rating 3’s are altogether a normal thing for property purchase surveyors to locate.

If you find upon review and reading your pre-purchase survey, there are a high number of Condition rating 3’s within it, we would advise opening discussions with the surveyor to fully accommodate yourselves with what this means and how you should now approach the sale of the property.  Ultimately, making the all important decision as to whether to pull out, re-negotiate the sale price, or alternatively, seek contractor quotation for informed making good and repair costs.

Cost Ratings

Here at Stokemont, we very much believe in going above and beyond in the property service offerings we have.  We are therefore very proud to offer an industry first, cost rating system within all of our pre-purchase survey reports.

Low Cost

These are costs towards the lower end of the spectrum. We’d classify these as less than £1,000.00.

Mid Cost

These are costs towards the mid end of the spectrum. We’d classify these as £1,000.00 – £5,000.00.

High Cost

These are costs towards the upper end of the spectrum. We’d classify these as more than £5,000.00.

The cost rating system, much like the condition rating system, will go through the various elements that the surveyor inspects, setting them out in an easy to understand and follow, Low, Mid and High Scale.

The beauty and benefit of this introduction to our pre-purchase survey reports means that you are not only informed on how severe the issue is, but you are informed of the likely costs to remedy, rectify and make good.

We find that this significantly aids our clients and pre-purchasers in being able to make a fully informed property purchase decision.

If you would like to see some of the pre-purchase surveys that we have undertaken over the years, please take a look on our projects page.  Here, you can see some of the highlighted properties that we have inspected.

We are very proud to have inspected almost every different type of the property that the land offers, from flats, to maisonettes, to houses and even to your mega mansions .

If you would like to discuss your pre-purchase surveying requirements with our team of experienced and qualified RICS surveyors, please feel free to give us a call today and we will be more than happy to assist and advise you. 

If you would like to seek a quotation for our pre-purchase services, all you need to do is select the “request a quote” button in our website header, or simply get in touch with us on our “contact us” page and we will be able to provide you a fixed cost quotation, a fixed idea of time scales, and answer any initial questions you have in respect of your property purchase and our surveying service offering.

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