What is a Home Buyers Survey?


For homebuyers in Clapham, Balham, Wandsworth, Tooting Bec, Battersea and the surrounding areas, a Homebuyers Survey will help avoid buying a property with issues that could potentially cost a lot of money to repair. The report may also provide evidence about the property condition you can use to negotiate a lower price.

Once you have found a property that you want to buy and the offer is accepted, it is highly advisable to have a survey. Buying your home could be the most significant purchase you ever make, so it is well worth commissioning a survey to ensure it is in good condition, and it will give you peace of mind that there aren’t any significant problems with the property.

A Homebuyers Report is the most popular type of survey available. It is not as in-depth as a Buildings Survey but is more comprehensive than a RICS Level 1 Survey. Here, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Homebuyers Reports.

What is a homebuyers survey?

A Homebuyers Report, now officially known as a RICS Level 2 Survey, is designed to give an overall opinion on the condition of a property. It can be offered with or without a valuation and will help you identify any significant problems such as subsistence, damp or if the roof needs replacing.

The surveyor will inspect all visible aspects of the property. They will not lift floorboards or look behind furniture, so they can only identify surface-level issues. The RICS Level 2 Survey will include an estimate of how much it will cost to rebuild the property if it were destroyed.

A Homebuyers Report is best for properties built within the last 100 years, built using conventional materials, and in reasonable condition. If the property you are considering buying is significantly older than this or has undergone extensive alteration or extension, you may want to consider a Building Survey, as this provides a more comprehensive level of survey.

What is included in a homebuyers survey?

The Homebuyers Survey (Level 2) visually inspects accessible parts of a property. It is typically chosen for modern properties and properties that are older but appear to be in good condition and have not had significant work completed.

For older properties and properties that have had extension work completed, a Building Survey (Level 3) may be more suitable, as this provides a more in-depth check of the property.

The RICS Homebuyers Survey (Level 2) involves the identification of the construction, materials and condition of the property, including:

Outside the property (inspected from ground level)

  • Chimney stacks and roof coverings
  • Main walls of the property (including testing for damp)
  • Pipes and gutters around the exterior of the property
  • Windows and doors, including whether they are double-glazed
  • Garages, conservatories and porches


Inside the property

The check includes all major indoor features such as:

  • Ceilings and walls (including the roof structure if it is accessible from the loft)
  • Floors (but not underneath fixed flooring)
  • Built in fittings including kitchens and bathrooms
  • Woodwork, checking timber for rot or woodworm
  • Fireplaces, chimneys and flues
  • Inspection of electricity, gas/oil, water heating and drainage (to a functional level not to the expertise of a plumber or electrician).


With the Homebuyers Report, you can choose to have a current valuation provided, which will usually incur an additional cost. This will include a market value and an insurance reinstatement figure. The property surveyor will also provide a list of issues that they believe are impacting the value.

A RICS report is not the only option. There are two other accrediting bodies for surveyors: Surveyors and Valuers Accreditation (SAVA) and Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA). Each offers different surveys administered by property surveyors, similar to RICS. Also, some surveyors offer their own equivalent of the RICS Home Survey Level 2, which may include more information.

What is not included in a Homebuyers Report?

A Homebuyers Report only includes visible issues, so if there are issues that are not visible, such as problems underneath floorboards, these will not be included. You also do not get an estimate for repair costs under the Homebuyers Report.

What are the homebuyer survey ratings?

A RICS Homebuyers Report follows a standard format using a rating scale of 1-3:

Condition Rating 1 – no repair is currently needed.

Condition Rating 2 – defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered serious or urgent.

Condition Rating 3 – defects that are serious and/or need to be repaired, replaced or investigated immediately.

The report is written in a way that is easy to understand and without complex jargon.

What to do if your survey uncovers problems?

Be prepared. Your survey will inevitably highlight some issues. If you have concerns about the condition of the property, then make sure you mention these to your surveyor before they carry out the inspection. The most common things to assess for good condition are electrics, roofing, central heating, damp and structural problems.

Discuss any issues with your surveyor and check how much fixing might cost. Obtain a quote from a builder or engineer for fixing the problem. Then, use these estimates to renegotiate the sale price or request the issue be resolved before completing the sale. For example, if damp is identified, you would get a quote for damp proofing and deduct the cost from the property’s price to renegotiate the price.

How much does a homebuyers survey cost?

The cost of your homebuyer survey will depend on the property’s location, type and size. Surveyors are free to set their prices, so get a few different quotes. The average cost of a Homebuyers Survey is £500 but could be as much as £1,000 for larger properties.

How long does a homebuyer survey take?

A Homebuyers Survey takes between 2 to 4 hours to complete. Typically, you will receive your report within 3-5 working days.

What are the other types of house survey?

As a homebuyer, you have several different property survey options, and you must choose the best one for your circumstances, as it could save you money and problems in the future.

These are the different types of house survey that are available in addition to the RICS Home Survey Level 2:

RICS Home Survey – Level 1

This type of survey was previously called a Condition Report, and it is the least in-depth survey of the three RICS house surveys. It costs around £400 and provides an inspection of obvious defects but does not include any recommendations.

RICS Home Survey – Level 3

This type of survey was previously called a full-structural survey and provides the most comprehensive level of survey, costing around £600 to £1,200, depending on the size of the property and the amount of work involved.

New-Build Snagging Survey

When you buy a newly built property, some developers will provide a snagging survey, or you can instruct an independent snagging inspector to check for defects, costing around £300. This type of survey also highlights any problems related to how the tradespeople have fitted appliances and fittings and the décor (if this is included in the home purchase). You can also provide your own snagging list to the housebuilder to ensure their contractors come back to rectify any issues.

Mortgage Valuation Survey

Your mortgage lender does a mortgage valuation to ensure that the property will be suitable security for the loan you are taking out. The surveyor does not always need to visit the property. Instead, the surveyor will use recent house price data to provide a valuation. A mortgage valuation will usually cost around £250, but most lenders include it in their mortgage deal.

What home survey should I get?

There are three types of house survey: RICS Level 1 – Home Survey (Condition Report), RICS Level 2 Home Survey (Homebuyers Report) and RICS Level 3 – Home Survey (Building Survey). This article has focused on the Homebuyer Report, the most popular survey type. However, the other two options have their pros and cons.

RICS Level 1 – Condition Report 

Pros  Cons 
The cheapest option.  The most basic survey with no details. 
Ideal for new build or nearly new home.  No advice is provided for repairs and maintenance. 
Identifies any major defects.   

RICS Level 2 – Homebuyers Report

Pros  Cons 
The most popular and affordable survey.  The survey inspection only assesses the visible and easily accessible areas. 
Contains reasonable details.  No photographs or estimated cost of repairs are included. 
Best for standard properties in reasonable condition.   

RICS Level 3 – Buildings Survey

Pros  Cons 
The most detailed report.  The most expensive report. 
Ideal for older homes, those that have been renovated or built in an unconventional way.  It can take one day for the survey assessment. 
Includes costings and timelines for repairs.   

Is a home survey worth it?

We would always recommend getting a Homebuyer Survey or Building Survey for a property you are buying. By having a survey, you will be aware of any issues and potential costs before committing to the purchase. You can use any defects or down valuations to renegotiate the price, or if the repair work required is too expensive, you can pull out of the sale. If you decide to proceed with the purchase, you can budget for any repair work.

Research from RICS surveyed over 1,000 buyers and found that 1 in 5 buyers who didn’t have a survey later found problems with the property. Those who didn’t have a survey had to spend £5,750 on average for repairs they were unaware of.

When buying a house, there is much to think about, and the process can be stressful. You might feel that finding a surveyor is a complication and expense you could do without. But a survey provides greater assurance and could save you time, money and hassle.

Can a mortgage valuation survey replace the need for a home survey?

No, a mortgage valuation survey will only provide information to the lender to say whether the property is worth the amount you are asking to borrow. The mortgage valuation will not provide information about the property’s condition, so it is advisable to get a home survey when buying a house.

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, Rampton Baseley provides a tailored, efficient and professional estate agent service, and we are proud of our outstanding reputation. To find out more, contact us today.