Investing in a RICS Home Survey


Unlike the obligatory valuation survey which is carried out under the instruction of your mortgage provider, home surveys are not compulsory.

The main purpose of a valuation survey is to protect a mortgage lender’s interests by checking that the sale price is an accurate reflection of the current market. The provider wants to be sure that, should the buyer default on their mortgage, they will be able to sell the property and get their money back.  In undertaking the market valuation, the Surveyor is only concerned with problems that might affect the security of the loan for the lender.  In some cases, the property will not actually be inspected, and you may not get a copy of the report.

When buying a house, additional costs to your mortgage such as the deposit and associated arrangement fees, conveyancing fees, valuation fees, local searches and stamp duty means the home survey can be one of the first things that home buyers look to omit, but we strongly recommend not to take this shortcut.

How Do RICS Home Surveys Differ?

A survey from the RICS Home Survey suite of Surveys identifies the physical condition of the property. The purpose of this range of survey is to make the buyer aware of any defects or potential issues with the property prior to committing to the purchase. Before purchasing the property, it therefore makes sense to have an in-depth knowledge of its condition. Homeowners sometimes undertake alterations to extend and alter the property which can substantially affect the structural integrity of the building and if gone undetected, may result in considerable expense later.

Who undertakes RICS Home Surveys and what do they include?

Home Surveys are carried out by qualified Building Surveyors. The RICS Home Survey series of residential reports offer impartial assessments of properties and help the purchaser adhere to industry best practice standards. Accredited members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors offer three types of survey:

Condition Reports (Level 1)

We recommend a Condition Report be undertaken if you are purchasing a conventional property, constructed from traditional materials and is in reasonable condition. This inspection and report is the most cost effective solution, however, it also provides the lowest level of detail.

  • The report operates a traffic light system of condition of different parts of the building, garages and any outbuildings (not sheds) and their key components.
  • A summary of risks of the key components are provided.
  • Advice provided on planning control measures.

Home Survey Reports (Level 2)

This is the most common type of survey instructed by a potential purchaser. This survey and report comments on the internal and external fabric of a building and provides comment on the existing services of the property.

  • The report operates a traffic light system of condition of different parts of the building, garages and any outbuildings (not sheds) and their key components.
  • Comment will be provided on any defect that may have a detrimental effect on the building and its value
  • Items that will require ongoing maintenance are identified
  • Information for consideration by your legal advisor.

This is a ‘mid’ report in terms of cost and detail. Our Home Survey’ reports do not include a market valuation and insurance rebuild costs.

Building Surveys (Level 3)

We would recommend a full building survey for older properties where large scale refurbishments and alterations have previously been undertaken, or if you plan to extend or alter the property post purchase.  This type of survey provides greater detail of the construction of the property.

  • A detailed and thorough inspection is undertaken with a bespoke report provided.
  • Defects described in detail, with repair options provided.
  • Provides advice on hidden defects and associated risk.
  • Budget costs provided for repair.


It is advised by the Consumer Association that you carry out a Home Survey before you buy, and not just rely on a mortgage valuation.  The cost of the survey in comparison to potential issues it could highlight is a small price to pay for peace of mind that the property is structurally sound.

The need for independent professional advice from a Chartered Surveyor has never been more important.  For all your surveying needs, contact Chris at Mace Davies.