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  • What Do Surveyors Look for in a Homebuyers Survey?

    13th October 2017

    What Do Surveyors Look for in a Homebuyers Survey?

    Let’s start with what the survey will provide:

    • An inspection of the property
    • A report (stating a valuation if the Homebuyer Report (Survey and Valuation) was requested)

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    Why get a Level 2 Homebuyer Report?

    • Be informed about the property your are buying
    • Understand if the price is fair (if selecting valuation option)
    • Understand repairs required
    • Understand what further advice or inspections are needed

    The report will rate each part of the property using a traffic light system:

    • Condition rating 3 – serious defects needing urgent attention
    • Condition rating 2 – defects that aren’t serious but need repairing or replacing
    • Condition rating 1 – no repairs required
    • NI – not inspected

    The valuation will be based on a number of factors and assumptions such as the property not including any furnishings or removable fittings. The condition of the property will be taken into account relative to other similar properties that have sold in the area in recent months.


    What does the surveyor look for?

    Your chartered surveyor will look for all major and minor defects evident throughout the property (including the roof space) and any permanent outbuildings. Remember, your surveyor can only inspect what is accessible to them and visible. They will usually state any limitations to their inspection so you know what they were unable to inspect.

    A homebuyer report is unobtrusive meaning they will not lift floor coverings (e.g. carpets, floorboards), drill into walls or move heavy furniture. Where there is access to hidden areas (such as under floorboards) they will inspect this if there are loose floorboards or hatches that can be lifted. The surveyor doesn’t want to cause unnecessary damage to the property you are looking to buy.

    Your surveyor will inspect all the visible elements of the:

    • Roof structure
    • Ceilings
    • Internal walls
    • Floors
    • Joinery (e.g. staircases)
    • Fireplace and chimney breasts
    • Roof and chimneys
    • External walls
    • Windows
    • Rainwater pipes/gutters
    • Garage
    • Outbuildings
    • Grounds


    What equipment does my surveyor use?

    • Damp meter – test for any moisture readings around the property
    • Binoculars – to help get a better view of elevated areas of the property (e.g. roof/chimney)
    • Torch – to see into awkward spaces
    • Ladder – access roofs and internal hatches up to 3m from the ground


    Limitations to a survey

    Services (e.g. gas, electrics etc) – These are often hidden within the walls and floors. Your surveyor can inspect the visual parts advising on the condition they appear to be in. Remember, your surveyor is like a GP – they can provide a general idea of the condition of these services from what they can see but they are not specialists and so will not conduct specialist tests or establish the efficiency of any services.


    Outside the property – Boundary walls or fences will be checked. This is important from a safety and maintenance perspective but also from a legal perspective. Unclear boundaries can cause issues at a later date. They will also look at permanent outbuildings and common areas that you may have to contribute funds to and/or require access through.

    A swimming pool counts as a permanent outbuilding but as with the services mentioned above, they are not specialists in this area and so cannot report on pool equipment and machinery.


    Flats – Communal areas such as stairs and hallways will be inspected as well as outside surfaces where accessible. Drains, alarms and lifts will also be checked for everyday operation but similar to services mentioned earlier, no specialist tests will be conducted.

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    For a full breakdown including terms of engagement see:

    RICS Description of a Homebuyer Report (Survey and Valuation) and Terms of Engagement

    RICS Description of Homebuyer Report (Survey only) and Terms of Engagement


    Compare the Homebuyer Report to:

    Building Survey: what do surveyors look for in a building survey?

    Condition Report: what do surveyors look for in a condition report?