There are three distinct survey types you can undertake when purchasing a residential property; a Condition Survey, a Home Buyer Report and Building Survey (sometimes referred to as a structural survey). You may have also heard of a ‘valuation survey’, a valuation survey is generally used for mortgage lender purposes and may not identify areas of the property that require rectifying.
The type of report that you will require will depend upon the construction and age of the property. Here is an explanation of each type of report and their uses:
Level 1 – RICS Condition Report
Good for: Conventional houses, flats and bungalows built with standard non-complex construction in reasonable condition.
The report is set out with a traffic lights system to identify any defects focusing on the condition of the property including different building elements, services, garage and outbuildings.
Condition Surveys (not the RICS condition surveys) are also used to record the condition of buildings for commercial properties in order to help protect against dilapidation claims at the end of a lease – this is essential when entering ‘full repairing lease’ on a commercial building. The surveyor undertakes a condition survey with a photographic schedule accompanied by narrative to record the condition of the different construction elements and to take ‘snapshot’ of the property recording its condition at a fixed point in time (Usually prior to a full repairing lease agreement being entered into).
A Condition Survey (not the RICS condition surveys) is also useful in helping to plan building maintenance and help establish life cycle costing and preventative maintenance over a time period (usually five years). The results of the survey can help to establish budgets and allows future maintenance to be prioritised and planned for.
Level 2 – Homebuyers Report
Good for: More in depth information on conventional houses, flats and bungalows built with standard non-complex construction in reasonable condition.
A Homebuyers Report included a Market Valuation of the property and reinstatement value of the property. The survey outlines problems that may affect the market value of the property and also advise on repairs and maintenance. A Homebuyers Report will provide a general assessment of property condition and an indication of any major faults within the property.
The report also highlights defects that are in need of repair or further investigation.
Level 3 RICS Building Survey (sometimes referred to as a Structural Survey)
Good for: properties that have been altered, unusual properties, older or substantially sized properties, or if you’re planning major works.
A full building survey is a more extensive investigation normally required for older buildings, or buildings of a less standard structure. A building survey is generally advised for listed and historic properties. You may also consider a building survey for properties that you intend on carrying out major alterations to, to highlight any potential barriers to your plans.
A building survey provides a detailed inspection and report covering a greater range of concerns. Both visible and hidden defects will be documented alongside the potential future issues that these are, or may, cause. The building survey also includes repair options and outlines defects within the structure that are of concern, either as a current or potential issue.
On completion the surveyor will provide you with a detailed report outlining problems associated with the property, defects and issues found.
The building survey report allows for a more informed purchase of properties and can include budget costs for likely repair items.
You can see a list of commonly found residential building defects here: http://www.k-lee.co.uk/k-lee-co-top-10-residential-building-defects/