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When should I get a survey done when buying a house?

When should I get a survey done when buying a house?

(Last Updated: 23/07/2024)
5 min read
Key Takeaways
  • The buyer organises the survey, not their solicitor
  • Book your house survey 1 to 3 weeks after your offer is accepted
  • Hold off booking your survey if the chain isn't complete or the seller hasn't sent draft contracts
  • Check the cancellation terms with your surveyor just in case you need to cancel
  • RICS surveyors are available within one week, and reports are delivered within 5 to 10 working days

Buyers always ask us: when should I get a survey done when buying a house? The answer is simple: only once you know the seller is invested in selling to you (and that's different from when they accept your offer). The risk you take by ordering your home survey, or 'condition report', before the seller is ready, is the cost of the survey if the seller is slow in finding an onward purchase or if they change their mind and decide not to sell.

The best time to order your survey is at the same time you order your property searches when the draft contracts come in from the seller. The seller has completed all the Property documents, instructed a solicitor, and shown a commitment to sell the property to you. Draft contracts are normally sent 1 to 2 weeks after the estate agent sends the sale memorandum.

16% of homeowners discover defects

In our recent survey, 16% of homeowners found defects; including 2% who were able to pull out of a bad purchase, 7% who were able to negotiate a better price, and sadly, 7% of homeowners who did not get a survey and discovered defects after the purchase.

12 of the 39 who remembered how much these defects cost to remedy spent over £5,000

Don't burn your money, book a survey.

RICS Surveyors | Fixed Fees | Same week availability | Access arranged


Who organises a survey when buying a house?

The buyer organises the survey inspection through the estate agent. The buyer chooses their own RICS surveyor to get an independent assessment of the property's condition.

The buyer chooses between a Level 2 (previously called a Homebuyers Survey) or Level 3 Home Survey (previously called a Full Structural, or Building, Survey) depending on the type of property they are buying. Read more - What is the difference between Level 2 and Level 3 Home Survey?

Do solicitors organise house surveys?

Your solicitor doesn't organise the buyer's house survey, but they may have a surveyor they can refer you to. When a solicitor refers you to a RICS surveyor and gets a referral fee, they must declare what money they make from the referral to the buyer.

Does a mortgage advisor arrange a survey?

A mortgage advisor can organise your survey by adding it to the mortgage lender's valuation. Some buyers prefer to keep their home survey and mortgage valuation separate just in case the home survey identifies defects that could affect the mortgage's valuation.

At what point in the house buying process do you get a survey?

Step #1 - Offer accepted by seller

You place your offer to the seller through the estate agent, and (hopefully) they accept it.

Step #2 - Sales Memo issued by estate agent

Once the estate agent has both solicitor's details for the buyer and seller, they issue the sales memorandum within 1 to 5 working days.

Step #3 - Draft contracts issued by the seller's solicitor

The seller's solicitor sends draft contracts 1 to 2 weeks after accepting your offer.

Step #4 - Book your Level 2 or Level 3 Home Survey

You can book your home survey once your solicitor has received the contracts from the seller's solicitor.

Do not leave it until after you exchange contracts, or you cannot renegotiate your offer or pull out.

How do you find a surveyor?

  • Web search. You can find a local surveyor by googling "home buyer survey". Some websites offer an online quote; however, most you need to call.
  • Estate Agent. The estate agent for the seller may have a local surveyor they have used in the past.
  • Referral. Friends or family may refer you to a surveyor they have used.

I suggest obtaining three quotes and comparing the best price with their service reviews. You can get a quote from us today; we are available this week.

Get a Survey Quote

I want to order my home survey quickly.

You can go ahead and book your house survey once your offer is accepted. This is advisable if the property is in poor condition, as you may find problems/defects that mean you have to pull out or renegotiate your offer.

Do you get a mortgage before a survey?

Whether you get a mortgage before a survey depends on your transaction, here is a guide:

Book survey before mortgage
Book survey after mortgage
  • You offered the asking price or under.
  • The chain is complete.
  • The property is in reasonable condition.

You want to avoid booking a home survey and finding out the mortgage lender's valuation is lower than your offer to the seller.

  • You offered over the asking price.
  • The seller hasn't found a property to buy.
  • The property is in bad condition.

The above are all potential risks for approving the mortgage. Read more - What happens with a mortgage valuation?

Frequently Asked Questions
Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Reviewed by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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