RICS Homebuyer Surveys | The Options Available to You

It’s nearly always advisable to have a homebuyer survey carried out when you are purchasing a property. However, there are several options available to you when you’re choosing a survey. Deciding which one is best for your situation isn’t always easy, especially if you want to balance saving money and making the right purchasing decision.

There are several types of RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Home Surveys. Each level of survey is appropriate for different types of properties. Which level is best depends on the age, condition, and size of the property, as well as its complexity and the originality of the property. Any chartered surveyor in East London can provide you with advice on which survey type is best for your requirements.

RICS Home Surveys

There are three levels for RICS Home Surveys. Each one provides a more thorough report of the property than the previous level. A new Home Survey Standard was introduced by RICS in 2021, which renamed some of the previous surveys and set out new guidelines.

Level 1 Home Survey

This survey was previously known as a Condition Report and is the most basic option for a home survey. It describes the general condition of the property and identifies both risks and potential legal issues. It will also identify any urgent defects that need to be corrected.

This type of survey is usually the most affordable, which reflects the information that it provides. Your East London chartered surveyor will typically recommend this survey for new-build properties or conventional properties that are unlikely to have any complications. Although it highlights defects that are present, it usually doesn’t offer advice on how those defects can be addressed, unlike other survey options. If the property you’re buying is in good condition and built from conventional materials, this basic survey is likely to be suitable.

Level 2 Home Survey

The Level 2 Home Survey was previously the Home Buyer Report. This type of survey can be a survey on its own or it can also include a valuation of the property. It’s generally suitable for properties that have a simple form or layout and that are in reasonable condition. Compared to a Level 1 Home Survey, it gives you more details about the property and its condition. You also receive advice on repairs or maintenance that could be required.

If you choose only the survey, you will get everything the Level 1 survey includes with a more detailed inspection of the roof space and drainage chamber. You also get advice on defects, maintenance, and repairs, which you don’t get with a Level 1 survey. When you choose to also have a valuation, you get a market valuation and insurance reinstatement figure.

Level 3 Home Survey

A Level 3 Home Survey is the most comprehensive option. Previously called a RICS Building Survey, it delivers a more in-depth look at the condition of a property. It also includes advice on repairs and maintenance for defects that have been highlighted. A Level 3 Home Survey is generally the best idea if you are considering purchasing a large or older property, or one that is in poor condition. Properties that are unusual (including being built with unconventional materials) or altered are also suitable for this type of survey. If you’re planning to carry out major works on the property, it’s also a good idea to choose a Level 3 survey.

How do I know which survey is right for me?

Even when you know about each home survey type, you can be unsure about which one is best for your needs. The first thing to do is to consider what type of property it is and its current condition. If the property is a standard house, flat, or bungalow in good condition, it’s likely you will only need a Level 1 survey. If there are some issues but it’s still in reasonable condition, a Level 2 survey might be more appropriate. You could also choose a Level 2 survey for a property that’s in good condition if you want more information about it.

A Level 3 survey is only needed for properties that are more complicated or that are more run-down. It’s unlikely that you will require one for a standard property.

If you need advice on which RICS homebuyer survey to choose, speak to a chartered surveyor in East London. They can offer you advice and help you select the best survey level for the property you want to buy. Get in touch with us at NI Surveys to find out more.

Ronan's broad range of surveying skills and detailed knowledge of property types & construction have been developed working in the private, public and residential sectors. He is an RICS Chartered Building Surveyor with 20 years experience and holds a Diploma in Financial Management examined by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.