Types of house survey

HarrisonHIX are regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors to provide residential surveys, including: RICS Condition Reports, RICS HomeBuyer’s Reports, Full Building Surveys and Structure Appraisal Surveys. While the HomeBuyer’s report tends to be the most popular, there are no hard and fast rules about the type of survey you should get and at HarrisonHIX we are able to recommend the most suitable survey depending upon the age and type of property.

HarrisonHIX are registered Chartered Building Surveyors and Valuers with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

RICS Condition report

This is the most basic ‘proper’ survey you can get – it gives an overview of the property’s condition and highlights significant issues, but doesn’t go into detail.

It also gives traffic light ratings for the condition of different parts of the property.

When is it suitable? Suitable if you’re buying a relatively new property with no previous issues, and just want some reassurance that everything is okay.

RICS HomeBuyer’s report

More detailed than a condition report.

The inspection is non-intrusive – the surveyor will not look behind furniture or under floorboards, so they’ll only be able to identify ‘surface-level’ problems.

It generally includes a market valuation and rebuild cost, and takes around two to four hours to complete.

When it is suitable? The most popular type of survey, and the standard choice for most properties that are in a reasonable condition.If you’re buying an unusual or period property, or one that requires significant renovation, it’s best to upgrade to a building survey.

Building Survey

The most thorough survey you can get, it provides a comprehensive analysis of the structure and condition of the property.

It lists defects and advises on repairs and maintenance.

The surveyor will be ‘hands on’ and will do things such as check the attic and look under floorboards if possible.

You can ask for the report to include projected costs and timings for any repair work.

Depending on the size of the property it may take a day to complete.

It is also possible to ask for a Market Valuation as part of the report

When it is suitable? A good option if you’re buying a property that’s over 50 years old or in a poor condition. Also worthwhile if you’re planning to do significant work or have major concerns about a property. It’s usually only undertaken on houses, not flats.

Structure Only Survey or Appraisal

This survey deals with the main load bearing parts of the house and identifies serious issues for example structural movement, damp or rot. As Chartered Building Surveyors we are qualified to report on specific defects which may have been identified in a Mortgage Valuation report  and  you may have been asked to have the defect looked into further before the Lender is willing to proceed.

New-build snagging survey

This survey identifies defects with a new-build home, covering everything from small cosmetic issues to structural problems. The report can be given to your developer before you move into the property so you can get any issues sorted as quickly as possible under your two-year developer warranty

When it is suitable? Anyone buying a new-build home should have a professional snagging survey done. Check out our full guide to snagging surveys.

House survey costs

The cost of your survey will vary significantly depending on the location, size and type of property.

The figures below give a rough idea of what you might pay.

Estimated survey costs
Value of property
Up to £99,000 £100,000 – £249,000 £250,000 – £349,000 £350,000 – £499,000 £500,000+
HomeBuyer’s report £350 £500 £600 £700 £950
Building survey £500 £700 £800 £900 £1,300


Understanding your house survey

House surveys are often complicated, and it can be difficult to get your head around some of the jargon.

HarrisonHIX make every effort to write in clear and plain English without dumbing down the contents.

The diagram below from Rics shows the names of different parts of a building to help you decode your survey report.

RICS house diagram