Homebuyers Report or Building Survey

Choosing a Homebuyers Report or Building Survey can often cause confusion for home buyers; especially when choosing the wrong survey could mean you don't get the right level of detail to make sure there aren't any defects with your new home. 

The Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) states the differences between the HomeBuyer Report and Building Survey and we show this in the diagram below. It is always important to choose the type of survey based on your specific property and not based on which survey is the cheapest

If you need any help choosing between a HomeBuyer Report or a Building Survey then call our survey specialists on 0333 344 3234.

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No time for forms? Call us on 0333 344 3234 (local call charges apply - Mon-Fri 8am to 6pm Sat 11am to 1pm)

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HomeBuyer Report

Building Survey (aka Full Structural Survey)

A HomeBuyer Report is normally purchased by a buyer looking for a general review of the following styles of property:

  • a flat;
  • a bungalow; or
  • a standard construction house built after 1960. 

  • A HomeBuyer Report is a visual inspection where a surveyor will look to provide a detailed report about potential concerns with the property you are buying.

    It also includes a current market valuation and reinstatement cost.

    A Building Survey is normally purchased by a buyer looking for a comprehensive review of the following styles of property:

  • large properties;
  • older properties built pre-1960 or rundown;
  • unique or altered buildings such as a cottages or thatched roofs; or
  • if you are planning major works. 

  • Building Surveys, which used to be called a Full Structural Survey, are the most detailed RICS surveys and the highest standard of visual inspection you can get for a residential property. They focus on providing a thorough review of any current or potential defects and are non-invasive, meaning that a surveyor won't be pulling up floorboards or drilling holes in walls.


    Property Defects Covered

    The are a number of defects that a survey aims to identify as potential risks so that you are made aware of these when proceeding with your purchase. The defects may even require further investigatory work with another specialist surveyor. These are some of the main defects your survey will identify if they spot visual signs:


    Subsidence Inspection

    The surveyor will look for signs of subsidence within the property paying special attention to signs of cracking internally and to the external walls. As a rule, if you can fit a 50p into a crack in a wall, it could be a sign of subsidence. Our surveyors will flag in their reports if they feel you need to instruct a structural engineer to review a crack further. Read more about Subsidence.

    Rising Damp

    Damp Testing

    There are numerous reasons why a property can be affected by damp. The Surveyor will take samples in the property using a damp meter and assess the condition of the property to provide a report on whether they feel the property is affected by damp. Further investigations maybe suggested including getting a damp and timber specialist. Read more about damp testing and repairs.


    Identify Infestations

    Woodworm, mice, rats and ants are infestations that your don't want in your home. Your surveyor will look for visible signs of mouse droppings, damage to floor boards (when visible) and damage to wiring, carpets or skirting boards.Read more about 



    Before its use was banned, asbestos was a commonly used building material, particularly as part of cement products, floor tiles and roofing shingles. Asbestos was used for its durability and resistance to heat and is commonly found in artex ceilings, garage roofing and chimney stacks. Your surveyor will confirm if they suspect any materials in the property have asbestos and if so, suggest getting an asbestos surveyor to intrusively taking samples of the asbestos to confirm the type. Read more about asbestos.

    If you're buying a home which shows the signs of damp, or any other defects then you MUST get a home buyers survey, whether a HomeBuyers Report or a Building Survey. The costs for making good or repairing some of these defects can run into thousands of pounds; however, If identified within a survey you can get quotes for fixing it and either share the costs with the seller, or, in worst case examples, choose not to proceed.

    Sections of the HomeBuyer Report

    What is inspected?

    A. Introduction to the report
    Declaration that the HomeBuyer Survey is conducted by a RICS surveyor
    B. About the inspection
    Details of the property
    C. Overall opinion and summary of the condition ratings
    General overview of the property
    D. About the property
    Details number of rooms, age, type
    E. Outside the property
    Chimney stack, roof covering, rainwater pipes & gutters, main walls, windows, outside doors, HomeBuyerconservatory & porches, other joinery & finishes
    F. Inside the property
    Roof structure, ceilings, walls & partitions, floors, fireplaces, chimney breasts & flues, built-in fittings (kitchens but not appliances), woodwork, bathroom fittings,
    G. Services
    Electricity, gas/oil, water, heating, water heating, drainage, common services,
    H. Grounds (including shared areas for flats)
    Limitations (reasons why they couldn’t be inspected), garage
    I. Issues for your legal advisers
    Regulation, guarantees
    J. Risks
    Risks to building, risks to grounds, risks to people
    K. Valuation
    Market valuation and reinstatement value
    L. Surveyor’s declaration
    Information about HomeBuyer surveyor
    What to do now
    Standard information
    Description of the RICS HomeBuyer Service
    Standard information
    Typical house diagram
    Standard information
    RICS Surveyor
    The Building Survey report in comparison is bespoke in format for each individual property although it always contains a section on legal information, which is directed particularly at conveyancing solicitors.

    The inspection is particularly looking for serious property defects including subsidence, damp, dry and wet rot and any visible sign of infestations.

    Home Buyer Survey Costs

    Home buyer survey costs vary depending on location and surveyor. You may find your home buyer survey cost is based on the size of the property or the length of time the surveyor feels the survey will take.

    Our home buyer survey costs are fixed regardless of the area of the country or the size of the property. We’ll review the property with you over the phone and provide a competitive fixed cost for your survey.

    HomeBuyer Report - "Traffic Light" ratings

    The HomeBuyer Report is delivered in a standard format and the defects are graded by traffic light colours.

    Condition rating 3 – defects that are serious and/or need to be repaired, replaced or investigated urgently. 

    Condition rating 2 – defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered to be either serious or urgent. The property must be maintained in the normal way. 

    Condition rating 1 – no repair is currently needed. The property must be maintained in the normal way.
    NI – not inspected. 

    If the surveyor is unable to view any parts of the property they’ll make a note of this in their report which is why it is important the estate agent and the seller give access to all areas in the property.

    In a home buyers survey the surveyor won’t provide cost estimates for making repairs to the property for any of the defects noted. If you would like to get the costs for repairing defects included in your survey, call us on 0333 344 3234.

    Book your Home Buyers Survey

    All of our surveyors are RICS regulated with years of experience working on all ages and types of properties throughout England. With over a 100 surveyors we’ll have a local surveyor near to your property able to give you the reassurance you need to buy your home.

    If you would like to book a Home Buyers Survey, whether a HomeBuyer Report or a Building Survey, you can call our head office on 0333 344 3234 and we’ll arrange the access and get the survey booked for the earliest possible time.

    *RICS Surveyors – Local Knowledge – Same Week Availability
    No time for forms? Call us on 0333 344 3234 (local call charges apply - Mon-Fri 8am to 6pm Sat 11am to 1pm)

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