Homebuyers or Building Survey?

Choosing between a homebuyers survey or a building survey

When it comes to life milestones, buying a home is a huge decision and likely one of the most expensive investments you’ll ever make. Whether you’re a seasoned investor owning multiple properties, or excited to buy your first home, it’s important for the process to go as smoothly as possible to avoid unnecessary stress and unwelcome additional costs. Consider investing in a property survey before you take the leap. It’s important to remember this article is merely a guide – if you’re looking for advice about choosing a homebuyers or building survey, feel free to get in touch.

What is a homebuyers or building survey?

Sometimes referred to as a “property survey”, they are a detailed inspection and examination of the condition of a property which is carried out by a registered member of RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors), a professional body that governs the highest standards in valuation and property management.

Although a homebuyers or building survey isn’t an obligatory part of the homebuying process, a survey should be carried out as a general ‘health check’ on the property before you buy it so you know you’re not being overcharged for a house that will require costly repairs or maintenance.

A RICS registered surveyor will identify any problems within the property, such as structural issues or required repairs to save you coming across any unwelcome surprises down the line. The surveyor will provide a report which can provide you with professional insight on the property’s attributes. A local surveyor may also be able to give you detailed information about properties in the local area. All reports from Joe Fraser Chartered Surveyors are created with a simple ‘traffic light’ system – a green rating means the property requires very little to no maintenance and repairs, while red means the surveyor recommends urgent repairs to be carried out. It would therefore be reasonable to ask a seller to reduce the asking price or complete repairs themselves before selling the property if the survey found that essential maintenance should take place.

What kind of property survey is right for me?

A RICS surveyor from Joe Fraser Chartered Surveyors will provide you with a full inspection and a ‘traffic light’ report no matter whether you instruct a homebuyers or building survey, but there are a few differences between each property survey to consider.

Homebuyers Survey

When it comes to a homebuyers survey, a surveyor will create a report based on the overall condition of the property, which will highlight any defects. A homebuyers survey is generally carried out on simple, unlisted properties which are less than 120 years old and haven’t been extended far beyond their original floorplan.

What’s included in a homebuyers survey?

  • A summary of potential risks to the condition of the building – for example, weather damage to the exterior of the property which might impact drainage.
  • A ‘traffic light’ rating of the condition of the building, any garages or outbuildings.
  • Any legal issues which need to be addressed before completing your purchase, for example any boundary disputes.
  • A comprehensive list of any list of defects the RICS surveyor identifies which could impact the property.
  • Advice on maintenance and/or repairs.
  • If your surveyor is local to the area, they may be able to provide extra information about the local environment, similar properties and energy efficiency in the area.

Building Survey

If your property is more than 120 years old, a listed building or in poor condition, you should opt for a building survey. Sometimes referred to as a structural survey, this is a more comprehensive option as the surveyor will identify any potential structural defects and can also identify which aspects of the building are original and which are extensions.

What’s included in a Building Survey?

  • A thorough report about the structure and fabric of the property, covering more issues than the homebuyers survey.
  • A detailed description of visible defects and any potential flaws, with an outline of repair options and advice about the consequences of inactivity.
  • Information for your legal advisers about serious risks or any dangerous conditions.

You could potentially save thousands of pounds by investing in a property survey. If you’d like advice relating to a specific property, or you’d like to chat to a member of our team about choosing a homebuyers or building survey, get in touch and call 01642 262728.