Buying a home is probably going to be the single largest purchase that you’ll ever make, so it’s important to know exactly what you are ploughing your hard earned cash into. Surveys can help highlight any problems that you may encounter at a later date and, more importantly, they’ll give you the option to rethink your purchase should they unearth anything unexpected.

Nevertheless, current figures suggest that only 20% of buyers bother to get a professional surveyor in to conduct a survey before they buy a property. Why is the figure so low? Well, surveys have had a lot of bad press over the years. Many of them are expensive and some are considered to be hardly worth having. Stories of cowboy surveyors failing to properly inspect properties don’t help matters either.

So, do I really need a survey?

Despite all of the above, having a survey done on your prospective property purchase is definitely something that we recommend – providing it’s 100% necessary. Some properties warrant surveys more than others, these include:

  • Listed buildings
  • Property that is over 50 years’ old
  • Timber-framed buildings
  • Properties with thatched roofs
  • Homes that raise specific concerns when viewing
  • Property that is in a poor state of repair


Having a survey done can give buyers peace of mind and save a lot of stress and financial pain further down the line. For example, 1930s home may present itself well if it has been maintained to a high standard, but there can still be hidden problems that will be highlighted by a survey.

Say, for instance, the property has not been rewired since it was built. This may not be an easy spot when you view the property, but it is something that will be picked up by the surveyor. Having this information will allow you to negotiate with the seller over the asking price. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask for a reduction to cover any work that your survey has highlighted.

As we have already touched upon, surveys can also allow you to reconsider buying the property altogether. If that hairline crack in the bedroom turns out to be far more than just normal movement, you can make an informed decision over whether or not you’d like to take on the work or search for somewhere else to set up home. Knowledge is most definitely power in this regard.

Are there different types of survey?

Yes, and this can be where many buyers make mistakes. Choosing the correct type of survey comes down to a number of factors, including how much you are willing to spend and the age of the property that you are looking to buy.

The majority of surveyors will offer three different types of survey for you to choose from. While they will be only too happy to provide you with guidance when it comes to deciding which one is appropriate, having a little information yourself can go a long way. So, with this in mind, let’s take a look at the most common survey types on the market today.

Condition Report

A Condition Report is the most basic of all the surveys offered. As such, a Condition Report can often be a waste of money and is only really advisable if you are considering buying a property that is relatively new and hasn’t had any previous issues associated with it.

This survey will provide you with a basic overview of the property in question and will point out any significant issues that the surveyor may find, but it will not go into detail. The survey will show the different parts of the building and give a traffic light rating for each section of the property.

Condition Reports are fine if you simply require some reassurance on a home that you think is probably okay. Having a professional surveyor carry out this type of survey will give you added peace of mind and confirm your thoughts that the property is in a good enough condition for you to proceed with the purchase.

HomeBuyer’s Report

This mid-range survey is the most popular on the market today. Far more detailed than a Condition Report, the HomeBuyer’s Report is the perfect choice for anyone buying a property that is slightly older but in a good state of repair.

A HomeBuyer’s Report will make the buyer aware of any significant problems, including issues such as subsidence and damp and will provide the recipient with advice on what repairs may be necessary and give an overview of any ongoing maintenance required. The surveyor will also check for anything that doesn’t meet current building regulations and highlight these points for you.

It’s common for a HomeBuyer’s Report to take anywhere between two to four hours to complete, but the process is a non-intrusive one. This means that while they are surveying the property, the surveyor will not have cause to lift floorboards or even move furniture while they are there. Only obvious surface-level problems will be identified.

The HomeBuyer’s Report will also include a market valuation and give you the current rebuild cost, too.

Building Survey

The last survey type on our list is the Building Survey. While Building Surveys are considerably more expensive than the other two options, they can often provide property purchasers with the best value for money. Prices range from under £600 for a property valued at £100,000 up to around £2,000 for homes that are on the market for £2 million.

As you would expect, the Building Survey is the most comprehensive type of survey available and it is the number one option should you be considering moving into a property that was built over 50 years’ ago or is in poor shape at present. Other reasons to consider opting for a Building Survey can be if you plan to carry out extensive work when you complete or if you have any particular concerns about the property.

You can expect to receive a thorough list of all defects as well as advice on any repairs or maintenance that the survey uncovers. The structure will be surveyed and the condition of the property noted, giving you a complete analysis of the current state of the home that you are looking to purchase.

Unlike the HomeBuyer’s Report, a Building Survey is a hands-on process and will involve the surveyor looking in places that no other survey will require. Expect the surveyor to enter the attic, move furniture and lift floorboards in order to complete all of the necessary checks required to give you the fullest breakdown of all issues that the property may have. You can also ask your surveyor to include details such as projected costs and timeframes for any work that is required.

As this survey is so thorough in its nature, the time that it takes to conduct is far longer than the other two types available. Larger properties may take a whole day to complete.


Despite being much maligned by some, having a survey done makes a lot of sense in many instances. Failing to find out if a property has underlying issues can be a costly mistake and is something that every buyer should do their best to avoid.

That being said, some surveys can be a complete waste of money, so it is vital to choose the correct type for the property you are looking to purchase. In many instances, spending a little extra and opting for the higher end Building Survey can be a prudent move, but it really is a decision that has to be made on a case by case basis. Doing your homework is key.

If you would like further advice on this or any other property related query that you may have, contact one of our team today. We’re here to make the process of buying your next home as stress-free as possible and our expert agents are always happy to lend a helping hand. Give them a call or drop them a line:

Wanstead office – 020 8989 2091 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Buckhurst Hill office - 020 8504 5403 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

what kind of survey do i need a homebuyers guide