Should I buy a Building Survey?

Buying a home is probably the largest investment you are likely to make. It is therefore important to check it is sound and to make sure you understand any wants of repair. A RICS Chartered Surveyor will be able to carry out a survey to provide you with a comprehensive report on a property's condition, including any defects, repairs and/or maintenance issues. From there, you can plan for any expenditure, as well as use this knowledge to negotiate the price of the property. It is also important to note that a survey is often required for insurance purposes.

What type of surveys are there?

There are three main types of survey and deciding on the best one for you, will depend on factors such as the structural condition of the property, its age and construction type. It will also be influenced by any plans you have to modify the dwelling. Below is a summary of each report and its suitability. Further details and examples of each report can be found on the following page:

A RICS Condition Report: this report is aimed at conventional and newer homes. It will describe the condition of the property, whilst also highlighting any risks, urgent defects and potential legal issues. A RICS Condition Report is the most basic of all three reports.

A RICS HomeBuyer Report: this report is recommended for a property that appears to be in good condition, and has not had any significant alterations. During his/her inspection, the surveyor will examine all visible and easily accessible areas of the property. The aim of the HomeBuyer report is to help you reach an informed decision on whether it is priced appropriately, as well as highlighting any areas of concern.      

A RICS Building Survey: these surveys (often referred to as a Full Building or Structural Surveys) are the most comprehensive of inspections. They report on the inside and outside of the property, including visual and non-visual elements (including spaces such as the roof void).  This type of survey is recommended if the property is old, has had alterations (or if you intend to do so yourself) or if it is made of unconventional material (such as thatch). Defects to the structural integrity will also be commented on, as well as their level of significance and recommendations for repair.

Your chosen RICS Chartered Surveyor will be able to talk you through which is the best type of survey for you, based on your requirements. They will also be able to answer any questions about their findings, so never hesitate to call them when you have read and digested your report.

How much does a survey cost?

As a general rule, a survey costs between 0.75% to 0.125% of the purchase cost of a property.  For example, for a property on the market for £600,000, you can expect to pay in the region of £600 + VAT for a survey.

Can I use my survey to help in negotiations?

Yes. A survey will help you assess the costs required for any defects or structural issues that have been highlighted. In some cases, such as subsidence, defects can affect the purchase price by tens of thousands of pounds. More typically, defects include poor roof condition, issues with external brickwork and problems with internal services. When these are taken to the table at negotiation stage, the purchase price often comes down to reflect the survey findings. When negotiating, if material defects have been noted, the costs of these should be deducted from the current market value to find the cost that is fair to pay in the property’s current condition. Alternatively, you may agree that the vendor makes good the works in order to bring the property into an acceptable condition for purchase.


In purchasing a survey from a RICS Chartered Surveyor, it is money well spent. They allow clients to be fully informed about their new property and highlight any  potential issues and defects that need to be addressed (both those that need immediate attention, as well as those that need to be planned for). Surveys are instrumental in the purchasing decision and can often be used to negotiate a better price for a property.