All you need to know about a house survey including what it entails, what types there are, how much they cost and how long they take.
This article is all about house surveys, the different options available and how to choose which type will best suit your attitude to risk and suits the type of property you are interested in buying. In addition, typical house survey costs will be provided for all the main types of survey.
If you are looking to purchase a newly built property, then the well named "new build survey" will detail any parts of the build that haven’t been completed to satisfaction. This type of survey takes a couple of hours and is useful on new build projects where there are many trades working to tight deadlines and it’s not unusual for parts of the project to be left incomplete. A Condition Report survey is a basic survey which will give an overview of the property’s condition and highlight any major issues. This type of survey is best suited for modern houses that are in pretty good condition and unlikely to be suffering from any structural defects. This survey again takes a couple of hours to complete.
The home buyers report is a visual inspection of a property but not a detailed inspection as no carpets/floorboards etc will be removed. This type of survey covers much more than a simple condition report, including anything that doesn’t meet building regulations listed, along with rough prices to make good. Any damp and subsidence issues will also be detailed in this type of report. This type of survey is ideal if you have some concerns about perhaps an older property, but don’t want to pay for a full house building survey. This survey will take around 3 hours to complete. A full "House Building Survey" is the most detailed type of survey available and is usually reserved for older properties or those that are obviously in a state of disrepair. This is the most expensive survey, but it also offers the most protection, as the surveyor will lift manhole covers, go in the loft, lift carpets/floorboards and will generally leave no stone unturned! The cost of the building survey is more than other reports and the survey will take around 4 hours to complete.
Attempting to carry out a DIY survey instead of instructing a professional and registered surveyor, is a false economy. In fact, if getting a mortgage, you will have no choice but to instruct a surveyor (though this is called a "survey" by the lender, this is more of a valuation to satisfy a lender that the house you want to buy is sufficiently valuable to be sold and repay the loan should you be unable to keep up repayments - though it will identify any major obvious problems, there is little protection for the buyer). But there are some checks you can do yourself when looking at a property, a pre-survey if you like, to decide whether it is worth spending the money on a full survey.
Some of these checks can be done online, for example checking Google maps looking for major roads, railway lines, nearby housing estates or anything else you feel may impact on life in that property. You can also check with the local council to see recent planning applications that may affect the property. Checking the neighbourhood at different times of the day and night is always a good idea, looking for noise, parking issue etc. Look at general condition of neighbouring properties and check for local transport links and local amenities. You can also check for obvious problems from outside such as broken or missing tiles, damp or mouldy patches, any bowing or cracking of cement. If you have access to the interior than check all lights and appliances, hot/cold water and central heating, ceilings and walls for signs of damp, then open and close all windows and check the condition of both the frames and the glass.
If you can, get into the loft and check the condition of the felt and timberwork. Another check you can do from the comfort of your home is to get home/car insurance quotes, if the premiums are much more expensive than your current insurance costs, this will likely indicate an issue that needs to be investigated. High car insurance premiums normally indicate a high crime area, whereas high house insurance costs could indicate previous flooding etc, both will need further investigating.
There is always a risk/reward assessment to be considered when arranging surveys on properties. Obviously, the safest way is to get a full house building survey on every property you are interested in, but this could cost an absolute fortune as you may look at a dozen or more properties before successfully buying one. But on the other hand, a basic condition check may miss potentially huge and expensive problems! A good compromise is to carry out a DIY survey on all properties as detailed above, then have a professional survey carried out on any property you are considering making an offer on, with perhaps a full "House Building Survey" on any properties older than 10-20 years.
The average cost to hire a professional to survey a regular house typically costs around £350 to £700 depending on the different type of survey you want to conduct. A "full house building survey" is the best option to survey a house, but also a costly one at £700. Although if you conducted a cheaper survey to inspect the property for £350, the tradesmen may miss potentially huge and costly problems! Our advice is to only conduct a full house building survey if the house is more than 10-20 years old, or if the first survey gives recommendations of carrying out a more complete survey.
Below are some estimated costs of hiring a tradesmen to conduct different types of house surveys:
|Survey Type||Avg. Cost||Duration|
|New Build Survey||£350||2-3 hours|
|Condition Report||£350||2-3 hours|
|Home Buyers Report||£500||3 hours|
|House Building Survey||£700||4-5 hours|
Individual costs to hire a tradesmen to carry out a full buildings survey - Total Cost: £700