A guide to choosing the right residential survey for your property

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Completing a residential survey is a key stage of the property buying process. A property survey provides you with an accurate understanding of the condition of the property you are interested in purchasing will give you peace of mind that your investment is safe.

Surveys are typically carried out following the acceptance of an offer on a property but before the exchange of contracts has been finalised. However, surveys are not just limited to those looking to buy a property. They are also valuable if you are planning to undertake repair work or renovations.

In this blog, we explore the three main types of residential surveys available to help you make an informed decision on which survey to choose when buying, selling or renovating a property.

Which survey is best for my property?

There are three levels of Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors certified residential surveys which all offer varying degrees of detail. The type of survey that will be most suitable depends on the age and value of the property, your budget and the condition of the property and whether or not any extensions or alterations have been carried out.

Level 1 - Condition Report

A Level 1 Survey is the most basic type of survey and consists of an internal and external visual inspection. While the Level 1 survey highlights obvious defects, it does not provide any recommendations on repair work that might be required, nor does it include any tests on the building’s fabric or ‘key services’ such as electricity, water, heating, gas and drainage.

This kind of survey is best suited to conventionally built, modern properties.

Level 2 - Homebuyer Report

The Level 2 ‘Homebuyer’ Survey is the most popular and most common type of residential survey undertaken in the UK.

It consists of a thorough inspection of all internal and external features (including roofs, chimney, windows, chimneys, fireplaces, bathroom fittings and gutters) and a full review of key services.

It identifies major issues which could affect the valuation of the property including:

  • Cracks and issues with roofing or flooring.
  • The presence of damp, asbestos, woodworm, dry rot and Japanese Knotweed.
  • Subsidence.

It also provides additional information about the property location and the environment including flood and radon risk. In addition, it details legal disputes related to the property such as planning permission, boundary rights and rights of way.

Importantly, it includes a colour-coded ‘traffic light’ grading system indicating the severity of issues found. This indicates the urgency of any repair works recommended in the report.

This survey is intended for conventionally built properties built from the 1930s onwards.

Level 3 - Building Survey

Level 3 is the most extensive and detailed survey available. It provides a comprehensive assessment of every visible and accessible element of the property as well as an overview of the key services. It also details probable causes of defects, as well as the urgency and estimated cost of repair works.

It identifies the same range of issues as Level 2, but goes a step further in assessing:

  • Permanent outbuildings, cellars conservatories and garages.
  • Large trees close to the property.

It is intended for properties over 80 years old, historic or listed buildings, as well as properties that are uniquely built. It is also suitable if you are buying a property that will undergo major renovations.

Specialist surveys

In addition to the three main surveys outlined above, there are various types of specialist surveys intended for more specific types of property or repair projects.

At Property Formula we can offer:

  • Snagging survey - A type of visual survey intended to inspect issues in new build homes so they can be solved prior to your move in date.
  • Drone roof survey­ - Use of a drone to provide a high-quality, detailed visual assessment of roofs for re-covering and retiling repairs.

We also have excellent relationships with trusted partners who can carry out detailed damp and drainage surveys.

Do I really need a survey?

The short answer is yes!

While a residential survey is not a legal requirement in England, it is strongly advised that you carry out the survey most suited to your property.

It may feel like an unnecessary additional expense when purchasing a property but it could save you thousands of pounds in potential repairs and give you leverage in your purchase negotiations.

A property purchase is likely to be the most significant investment you make in your life. A survey should be thought of like an MOT for a house and will ensure your investment is safe.

Based on the significant increase in expert witness instructions at Property Formula we would say a survey could be the next best investment!

How Property Formula can help

At Property Formula, we pride ourselves on our expert industry knowledge and a solutions- focused approach to a broad range of customer needs. We are RICS regulated and offer a comprehensive range of residential surveys which can be vital in assessing the safety and condition of your property.

To discover which survey is right for your property contact the Property Formula team today on 01865 730 992.