One of the most important parts of buying a home is ensuring that an adequate property survey is carried out to determine the state and value of the structure. If you don't do this, it could end up costing you tens of thousands down the line, or even result in the loss of your home if it requires demolition.
Unless moving into a brand new home, you should consult your local chartered surveyor to determine which type of survey you require. There are three main types of report, with the cost varying for each. Don't be tempted to cut costs for the sake of a few hundred pounds, as it could end up costing you far more down the line.
This is the most basic form of survey. It will give you an overview of the properties value and will point out any significant issues with the building, although it won't go into much details. Ratings are normally presented using a 'traffic light' system, to outline the condition of the various parts of the property.
Condition reports are generally fine if you're buying a new, or modern house that's in good condition. Alternatively you might need to have a condition report carried out to satisfy a new lender if you're changing mortgage providers.
The homebuyer's report costs a bit more, but it will give you extra assurance, as it is quite a bit more detailed than the condition report. This report will highlight any issues such as damp or subsidence, as well as detailing advice on repairs, and any ongoing maintenance required.
The survey only looks at surface level problems. That's to say that, it won't look under floor boards etc. so there may be hidden issues it doesn't identify. Generally speaking, this type of property survey is suitable for most modern properties as well as older properties that are in reasonable condition.
This is of course the most thorough, and therefore the most expensive. It really scrutinises the structure and condition of a property with a detailed breakdown, of potential surface level, and hidden problems. The report will also include information on suggested repairs and their expected costs.
If you're buying an old, or unusual building – or a building in poor condition, then this is probably the one for you. This type of report might also be appropriate if you're planning on doing major renovations, or have any existing concerns about the property.
The costs really vary as there are quite a few variables involved; house size, type, location, and the actual surveyor, being the main factors. As with anything, you should shop around to find a suitable surveyor based on price and reputation.
Condition reports cost between £150 - £300. The following table should give you an idea of the rough costs for the homebuyer's report, and building survey:
£100k - £250k
£250k - £350k
£350k - £450k
Mortgage Valuation v Building Surveys
Don't get confused about the mortgage valuation and building survey being the same thing. The valuation report by the mortgage lender merely seeks to confirm for the lender that the property is worth what they are lending you. Mortgage valuations take 15-30 minutes (full surveys take at least a couple of hours; sometimes up to a full day or more), and therefore only have a superficial depth when considering the state of the property.