What type of survey do I need

24/11/2017
The fear of getting the wrong survey is something that many buyers have and with so many different types of property, it can be confusing which to go for. Read about the different types of home buyers survey you can get and which property types are best suited for each type.

What types of survey are there?


  • Survey level 1: RICS Condition Report
Shows the condition of the property, offers guidance to legal advisors and highlights any urgent defects. Typically the lowest priced of the surveys, it is aimed at conventional properties and newer homes. We do not offer this survey due to the limited scope and instead offer snag reports for new build property.

  • Survey level 2: RICS HomeBuyer Report
As of Autumn 2016 there are two options:

  • HomeBuyer Report (survey no property valuation or reinstatement value) This a new service which is under development and should be fully available by Autumn 2016. It includes all the features of the RICS Condition Report. It also includes advice on defects that may affect the property with repairs, and ongoing maintenance advice.
  • HomeBuyer Report (survey and valuation)
Includes all the features of the RICS Condition Report, plus a market valuation and insurance rebuild costs. It also includes advice on defects that may affect the value of the property with repairs, and ongoing maintenance advice

The HomeBuyer Report applies to houses, bungalows and flats that are conventional in type and construction and are apparently in reasonable condition.

  • Survey level 3: RICS Building Survey
Essential for larger or older properties, or if you’re planning major works. The most comprehensive report provides you with an in-depth analysis of the property's condition and includes advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options. It focuses on the structure and the fabric of the property and aims to establish how the property is built, what materials are used and how these will perform in the future.

We have local RICS surveyors throughout England and can provide any of the following RICS surveys for a competitive price with booking availability this week:

  • Level 2: HomeBuyer Report (with valuation)
  • Level 3: Building Survey
  • Red Book Valuations for Help to Buy Equity Loans, Staircasing, divorce and probate

*RICS Surveyors – Local Knowledge – Same Week Availability
Want help now? Call us on 0333 344 3234 (local call charges apply)

RICS Surveyors, local knowledge and at competitive prices.

 

Which survey should you get for these types of property?*

*This is only a guide on which type of survey suits certain types of property. You should always get a professional opinion from a RICS qualified surveyor as to which survey is best suited for your property so please call us today and we'll support you with choosing the right survey for your property - 0333 344 3234 (local call charges - Mon-Fri 9am-6pm Sat 11am-1pm)


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Victorian House

A Victorian House was normally built during the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901 and is typically terraced or detached (not normally semi-detached). You can however get Victorian houses that have been converted into flats (see below). Trademark signs of a Victorian house are the big sash windows, high ceilings, red brick, stain glass in doorways/windows, slate roof, no garage, decorative floor tiles, multiple fireplaces and chimneys.

Normally viewed as a great opportunity for extensions and conversions.

QuestionWhat type of survey is needed?
For Victorian houses, based on their age, style and size, a Building Survey is normally required with an aim to identify defects and what materials were used in the building of it.


Victorian-House

Victorian Converted Flat

Conversion flats are often found in London and there can be concern over the overall build quality of the conversion.

QuestionWhat type of survey is needed?
For Victorian converted leasehold flat, you can choose either to get the HomeBuyer Report or the Building Survey. The Building Survey would give a more comprehensive assessment of the property as per the guidelines and should be definitely chosen above the HomeBuyer Report if the property is run down or in need or repair.

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Georgian House

Georgian properties are older than Victorian, built between 1714 and 1830 with some overlap into the Regency period. The period is named after the 4 successive Kings named George (I to IV). The properties are larger in style, often 2 or 3 floors high, and made of brick or stone. They can be detached freehold properties or terraced. They often come with painted doors and windows and interior plaster work including ornamental details. Windows in a Georgian property are often small and six pane towards the top of the property and large 9 to 12 pane windows on the ground floor. The roof is normally tiled and hipped and hidden behind a parapet with chimneys located on both sides of the property.

Equally seen as a good property to extend/develop due to their size, you must check first if it is listed as listed buildings may not be allowed to get planning permission.

QuestionWhat type of survey is needed?
For Georgian houses, based on their age, style and size, a Building Survey is normally required with an aim to identify defects and what materials were used in the building of it.

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New Build House or Flat

Newly constructed properties are built to current building standards and materials and should come with an indemnity insurance of 10 years (normally from NHBC or Zurich Insurance).

QuestionWhat type of survey is needed?
For new build properties, a Snagging Report/Condition Report or HomeBuyer Report will suffice and should focus on picking up build quality and snags for the developer to address before completion.


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Edwardian House

Built between 1890 and 1918, this style of house is well known for its durability with the use of high quality timber. The chimneys are often found halfway down the slope with the roof itself a steep pitch with gable ends (great for loft conversions if you can get planning permission). The upper part of the property often has hanging tiles, pebble dash or mock timber frame patterns. Sash windows often had the upper section divided with glazing bars while the lower one was left plain. This gave the the property a rustic appearance while the clear pane below allowed an unobstructed view for residents.

To protect against damp, Edwardian houses had Bitumen or slate damp proof courses at the base of the property and bands of engineering bricks were used as a barrier. The ground floor was raised from the floor so air bricks could be fitted front and back to allow an air flow to ventilate the under floor space.

Similar to Victorian houses, Edwardian properties have very high ceilings and are tall, whereas properties built from the 1920s onwards often tended to be wider.

QuestionWhat type of survey is needed?
For Edwardian houses, based on their age, style and size, a Building Survey is normally required with an aim to identify defects and what materials were used in the building of it.

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Bungalow

The word bungalow derives from Gujerati, meaning 'a dwelling in the Bengal style' and it originally described detached cottages built for early European settlers in India in the late 17th century. When the settlers returned home, they popularised the homes. They are distinct in being predominantly single storey and taking up considerably more land than the standard two-storey home.

Their popularity has been changeable over the last hundred years or so, not least because of the varying build quality and materials used in their construction. They have been popular with older people because owners don't have to climb stairs to get to bed etc. but they take up more land at times when land prices are rocketing and developers are therefore less keen to build them.

You should think very carefully before you buy a part concrete-built bungalow as you will struggle to get a mortgage on it; the same advice applies to those made of pre-fabricated materials such as plasterboard. Many of these properties were built in the five years following the end of the Second World War when the Government wanted to build homes quickly, using easily available, cheap materials.

QuestionWhat type of survey is needed?
For bungalow houses a HomeBuyer Report should be used unless the bungalow has extensive extensions, and then a Building Survey should be used. The reason for this is the original fabric and structure of the property has been changed and a Building Survey is better suited to identify potential defects with the extensions.


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Purpose built flats

Flats are described as purpose built when they were built as flats in the first place as opposed to houses that were later converted into flats. They are likely to be comparatively modern - i.e. at most 60 years old - and unlike conversions are more likely to make better use of any space available and similarly they may have much better insulation and offer better protection against fire.

However they can sometimes be on the small side, particularly very modern developments, and have been accused of lacking the character of older properties. 

QuestionWhat type of survey is needed?
For a purpose built flat, a HomeBuyer Report should be used as the property will only require a general assessment as it will be less than 70 years old and original fabric of the property wouldn't have been changed.


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Post-1950 Standard Construction House

Generally, most houses built post-1950 are regarded as being of 'standard construction': although exteriors may differ considerably, materials are standard - for example concrete (cement and aggregate) for foundations and binding, bricks for the walls, timber-built roofs etc. - and they are governed by the British Standards Institute.

Above all, houses have to be built to a high standard with respect to matters such as wiring, plumbing, fire resistance, insulation etc. and these standards are constantly being improved, so the more modern the property, the less likely it is to have issues. Generally, even properties on the older side of the spectrum will have had their wiring redone - though it's worth checking for - and it is becoming less frequent to find such a home without double glazing.

QuestionWhat type of survey is needed?
For a post-1950 standard construction house, a HomeBuyer Report should be used as the property will only require a general assessment as it will be less than 70 years old and original fabric of the property wouldn't have been changed.

What are the limitations to a RICS survey?


Limitations of the survey level 2: RICS HomeBuyer Report

The HomeBuyer Report is specifically designed for lay clients who are seeking a professional opinion at an economic price. It is, therefore, necessarily less comprehensive than a level 3 Building Survey. The focus of the service is on assessing the general condition of the main elements of a property, and identifying and evaluating the particular features that affect its present value and may affect its future resale.

The service does not include an asbestos inspection that may fall within the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/632). However, asbestos containing materials, if suspected, should be reported and cross-referenced to section J3 Risks to people.

The inspection is not exhaustive, and no tests are undertaken. There is, therefore, a risk that certain defects may not be found that would have been uncovered if testing and/or a more substantial inspection had been undertaken. This is a risk that the client must accept. However, where there is ‘a trail of suspicion’ the surveyor ‘must take reasonable steps to follow the trail’. These ‘reasonable steps’ may include recommending further investigation.

Following the trail: The relevant passage is from Robertsv J. Hampson & Co. (1989) in which Kennedy J. states 'As it seems to me the position that the law adopts is simple. If a surveyor misses a defect because its signs are hidden that is a risk that his client must accept. But if there is specific ground for suspicion and the trail of suspicion leads further behind furniture or under carpets the surveyor must take reasonable steps to follow the trail until he has all the information which it is reasonable for him to have before making his valuation.'



Limitations of the survey level 3: Building Survey

In many properties, a full inspection will be prevented by physical conditions, such as fitted carpets, heavy furniture, and access hatches that are painted and fixed shut. In these cases, an explanation should be provided in the ‘Limitations to inspection’ box in the relevant sections of the report. Clarity of reporting the limitations to inspection is required, as it has the potential to be a source of confusion to clients and result in a complaint at some future stage.

The surveyor should assess the element on what can be seen, determine the risk of underlying defects that are present and report this appropriately. There is therefore a risk that certain defects may not be found that would have been uncovered if a more substantial inspection had been undertaken. This is a risk that the client must accept. However, where there is a trail of suspicion (as seen above) the surveyor must take reasonable steps to follow the trail. In such case, the surveyor is likely to recommend further opening-up of the area for further investigation.

*RICS Surveyors – Local Knowledge – Same Week Availability
Want help now? Call us on 0333 344 3234 (local call charges apply)


Related News Articles

 
Buying a Bungalow
23/10/2017
Cheap surveyors: the (false) economies of scale
17/11/2017
Edwardian Properties
13/10/2017
Pre-Georgian Properties
12/10/2017
Property Survey Defects
27/07/2018
Purpose Built Flats
22/11/2017
Standard Construction House
24/10/2017
Victorian Properties
16/09/2017
What happens during a house survey
16/05/2017
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