Can you save money by not ordering a building survey?

Oct 23

Getting a building survey during the home-buying process isn’t compulsory, although there are many who feel it should be. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors states that “on average, homebuyers spend 5,750 on repairs once moved into their new home”, showing just how important a survey is if you want to avoid any nasty surprises upon moving into your new home.

The repair cost is something most buyers would like to know about so they can either:

  1. Ask the seller to make good the repair works; or
  2. Agree on a price reduction.

What many buyers battle with is having to spend money on a survey that may not actually flag any major concerns. For some, this is money well spent as it’ll put their mind at rest, but for others it could feel like a waste of money. Either way, if a survey comes back without issues, the buyer can proceed without concern.

What are the different types of survey?

There are 4 levels of Building Survey and the level you choose depends on the type of property you are buying:

  1. Level One – RICS Home Condition Report (NCR)

Ideally suited for newer homes to highlight risks, legal issues and urgent defects. The scope is limited and many RICS surveyors do not provide this basic level of survey.

  1. Level Two – RICS HomeBuyer Report without a valuation

Includes the scope of the condition report, plus going into more detail about defects that may affect the property and further ongoing maintenance. Normally suited towards flats, bungalows and standard construction property.

  1. Level Three – RICS HomeBuyer Report with a valuation

Includes what is contained in the HomeBuyer Report, plus a current market valuation and a reinstatement value.

  1. Level Three – RICS Building Survey

Historically known as the ‘full structural survey’, this is the highest visual assessment you can get for a property and provides an in-depth analysis of the property’s condition and advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options. It is perfectly suited for London Victorian or Georgian properties, cottages or any property that has had a number of extensions.

It’s also a good idea to get a boundary survey completed if the property comes with land, or if the land ownership is under dispute. Even if a certain parcel of land is attached to the property, a survey may show the land is not actually included within the property boundary. This is important when it comes to your responsibilities for maintaining the property. If boundary surveyors find a dangerous wall across the road is actually built on land that comes with the property, for example, you will be responsible for its repair.

What is the cost of a survey?

The costs vary depending on the size and price paid for the property. A HomeBuyer Report starts from 480 INC VAT and a Building Survey from 600 INC VAT.

Prices vary considerably from surveyor to surveyor, and especially in different parts of the UK. The best advice is to shop around and speak to at least three surveyors and inspect their online reviews to make sure you get some background on the type of service you are going to receive.

Andrew Boast MAAT MIC

Co-founder of SAM Conveyancing