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Should I book a Property Survey?

What is a Property Survey?

A property survey is a detailed inspection of a property’s condition. They are a good way to avoid unexpected repair costs further down the line. Getting a survey for a property will give you an idea of just how much you might need to invest in a property after you buy it. They are particularly useful for highlighting any defects that may not be immediately obvious when viewing a property. Hidden defects including structural damage, wet or dry rot and problems with the roof will get progressively worse after you move in, and will be expensive to fix in the future.

Who Completes the Property Survey?

Property surveys should be carried out by qualified surveyors. Most qualified surveyors are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). It is recommended to use a RICS qualified surveyor because they carry professional indemnity insurance. A local surveyor is also recommended because they are likely to have a better knowledge of market values in the area.

Do I need to get a Property Survey?

A survey is optional. However they can help you avoid expensive and unwanted surprises, and give you peace of mind. Given the hundreds of thousands of pounds it costs to buy a property, a few hundred pounds on a property survey is normally a good investment.

With the information from the survey you might reconsider whether to buy the property or use the information you have to renegotiate the price. 

A Property Survey is particularly recommended if:

  • you have any specific worries about any part of the property.
  • you feel unsure about what sort of condition the property is in.
  • you are looking to buy an old or unusual property.
  • the building is listed.
  • the property has a thatched roof or is timber framed.

Types of Homebuyer Survey

It is recommended that you choose a survey based on the condition of the property itself and not the cost of the survey. There are several types of survey, the most common is the HomeBuyer report.

RICS HomeBuyer Report

This is the most popular type of survey and is suited to properties in a reasonable condition. This will identify any structural problems such as subsidence or damp, as well as any other unwelcome hidden issues inside and outside. The survey aims to set out what decisions and actions should be taken before contracts are exchanged. 

The property surveyor will make a number of assessments, including:

  • The general condition of the property.
  • Any major faults in accessible parts of the building that may affect the value.
  • Results to tests for damp in the walls.
  • Any urgent problems that need inspecting by a specialist before you sign a contract.
  • Damage to timbers in the property including woodworm or rot.
  • The condition of any damp-proofing or insulation.

This survey does not look beyond the floorboards or behind the walls. Some reports include a property valuation so you might be able to revise your offer accordingly. If no valuation is included, you could use the reports suggestions for repairs to negotiate the price.

My mortgage lender is conducting a valuation report, isn’t that enough?

It is a common misconception that a mortgage lender’s valuation report represents a survey.

A lender’s valuation report is a cursory look at a property to assess how much the property is worth to ensure that it is sufficient security for the loan. They are only interested that their loan is safe. It is not designed to highlight any potential problems with the property and does not involve an in-depth inspection so most hidden defects are unlikely to be found. Relying on the information provided by a mortgage report will therefore leave you at risk.


For further information, get in touch with our Residential Conveyancing team in Chichester, Fareham and Havant by giving us a call or filling in our online enquiry form.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute, legal advice, and should not be relied upon as advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. All content was correct at the time of publishing. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.