Do I need a house survey when buying a house?


Buying a new home can be a bewildering process. Some things can be a little unclear at times, and this is certainly true when it comes to surveys. Are you wondering what a survey is or how much they cost? And do you want to know who organises a survey when buying a house or even if you need to get one at all? We’re here to help with lots more information, as we lift the gloom on this often-confusing topic.


A house survey is an inspection of the condition of a property, which is carried out by a qualified expert. When you’re looking to buy a new home, a property surveyor takes a detailed look at it to assess the overall condition of the building. Problems that can be pointed out range from minor cosmetic issues to major structural concerns, allowing you to make an informed decision on whether to proceed with your purchase.
As well as identifying potential problems such as dampness, a house survey also provides you with an in-depth report on the overall condition of a property. This can include anything from how the walls and roof are constructed to the state of kitchen units, what insulation there is and how windows and doors are glazed. The survey will then advise what repairs and improvements are required to bring a property up to an acceptable standard.


Legally, no, a full homebuyer survey is not essential. However, buying a home is usually the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make, so it’s a very good idea to obtain a thorough survey before you part with your money. House purchases are final once completed - there’s no cooling-off period if you change your mind, and you can’t claim money back after completion if you discover there’s something seriously wrong with your property.


Some of the language used in the home-buying process can be confusing. Conveyancing solicitors often call checks on the local area ‘searches and surveys’, which are different to a house survey that inspects the condition of the building itself. Mortgage companies also carry out valuation surveys to ensure you’re paying a fair price for the property.
What we’re interested in here are homebuyer surveys, which the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) bands into three levels.


How much a survey costs depends on the type you get. Typically, an RICS Level 1 Home Survey will cost between £300 and £900. If you go for a Level 2 survey, this will be around £400 to £1,000. A Level 3 survey usually costs between £600 and £1,500, although this can be more depending on the building being inspected.


A house survey should be organised by whoever is buying the property after having an offer accepted. The report will help the buyer get a better idea of exactly what it is they’re purchasing. Although it’s an extra up-front cost, surveys can enable you to renegotiate the purchase price, budget for repairs, or even pull out of a transaction altogether.

When you have an offer accepted on a new home, you’ll often be provided with options for surveyors by your estate agent, bank, mortgage company or mortgage broker. You can still shop around though based on price and quality, while you may prefer to go with a recommendation from a friend or family member.
When you’re organising a survey, make sure you instruct a qualified surveyor who’s a member of one of the two main accrediting bodies, the RICS or the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA). Appointing a local surveyor is often a good idea too. When a surveyor knows an area well, they can have experience with common issues in that particular place, while they should also have a deeper knowledge of local property values.
Whoever you go with, the surveyor will provide you with a date they can carry out the inspection. They’ll arrange with the estate agent about access to the property, meaning all you have to do is wait to receive the report. Most reputable surveyors will expect payment in full upon receipt of the report.


Here at Wain Homes, we’ll do what we can to help you obtain surveys that you’d like to carry out at the point that suits you. Don't forget that your home is covered by a two-year Wain Homes warranty and a 10 year NHBC Buildmark Warranty. If you've got any questions about this or the the process of buying a new home in general, just get in touch with us and we'll be happy to help.