A Home Survey Level 2 is a detailed inspection of a property’s condition, carried out by a qualified surveyor. It’s used to spot any problems (or potential problems) before you buy.
Think of it as a “property health check” or like an MOT for your car. A surveyor visits and carefully inspects the property, before writing a report highlighting any issues they’ve found.
You’ll typically have a home survey done on a property after your offer has been accepted.
Do I really need a home survey?
First, the facts. You’re not legally obliged to get a survey done on a property you’re buying.
And when no one’s forcing you to do it, it might feel like an unnecessary expense. Especially as it comes after you’ve had an offer accepted and you’re already committed. But it’s actually a really good idea to get a home survey done, because then you’ll know if the property requires any work or repairs before you buy it – particularly if those problems aren’t immediately obvious.
Issues with the roof, plumbing, dampness, or structural integrity of the building can be flagged in a survey, which could impact how you go about finalising the deal.
For instance, if your survey uncovers £10,000 worth of repairs, you could:
- Renegotiate the final sale price down by £10k to account for this, or
- Ask the seller to make the repairs before you move ahead with the purchase
And if the survey makes for extra scary bedtime reading (for example, it shows a history of subsidence and risk of structural collapse), you could opt to pull out before you exchange contracts and finalise the deal – saving you lots of time, money, and stress in the long run.
Is a mortgage valuation the same thing?
Nope. A mortgage valuation is not the same as a home survey.
When you apply for a mortgage, your lender will carry out a valuation of the property to make sure it’s worth what you’re planning to pay – and borrow from them as a mortgage. The valuation is there for the lender’s benefit, not yours. It isn’t thorough enough to replace an expert house survey – and, in many cases, it won’t involve someone visiting the property in person.
Don’t rely on a mortgage valuation to pinpoint problems or stop you from overpaying. You’ll need an independent survey survey for that.
Who should carry out the survey?
You should get a qualified surveyor. Most are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), a recognised industry association whose members have to have professional indemnity insurance.
Here are a few tips for choosing a surveyor:
- Costs can vary from one surveyor to the next, and will often depend on the size, style, and location of the property. Try to shop around and get 3–4 quotes to find the best price.
- If you can, hire a surveyor familiar with the area. They’re likely to have a better knowledge of the local market and its property values.
- If you’re buying an unusual property (like maybe you’re fulfilling your dream of becoming a lighthouse keeper), it’s always best to hire someone with a track record of dealing with those specific types of buildings.
How long does a home survey take?
It depends on the level of survey you choose (and the size of the property). It can take anything from an hour or two, to the whole day.
The standard surveys offer three levels of survey:
- Home Survey Level 2 (previously known as a Homebuyer Survey) – up to 4 hours
- Home Survey Level 2 with a valuation – up to 4 hours
- Home Survey Level 3 (previously known as a Building Survey) – up to a day
Here’s a little bit more about each:
Home Survey Level 2
A Home Survey Report is best suited to homes in a reasonable condition, this survey dives a little deeper, helping you identify more visible problems, like damp or sightings of subsidence, as well as any issues both inside and outside of the property.
It’s only detailed up to a point – stopping short of looking behind the walls, in the roof or under the floorboards.
This report does not offer a valuation of the property.
Home Survey Level 2 with a valuation:
This is the same as the above but does include a valuation of the property at an additional £100 cost.
Home Survey Level 3
A Home Survey Level 3 is the most comprehensive of the lot. A highly detailed report, it gives you an in-depth analysis of the property’s condition, flagging any and all issues in the process.
As part of the report, you’ll also get clear recommendations on how to deal with the problems uncovered by the survey, plus an outline of the repair options and a description of the consequences if these issues aren’t dealt with promptly and correctly.
Naturally, this attention to detail is reflected in the cost and is the priciest option:
Other types of home buyers survey
The Residential Property Surveyors Association (RSPA) is another independent association of surveyors. Like the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, they too offer three levels of survey, all of which include:
- A colour-coded condition rating based on the significance of the issue
- Photos to illustrate problems or areas of concern
- Thorough inspection for defects like damp, rot, woodworm, or subsidence
- A review of environmental issues, like flooding
Prices range from £400 to £900, depending on the level of survey and the size and location of the property.
New-build snagging survey
When you buy a new-build home, you might benefit from a different type of report. A new-build snagging survey is an independent inspection designed to look for and find issues with a brand new property.
Costing upwards of £300, it covers small, cosmetic “snags” and larger, more glaring issues alike.
Ideally, you should share this report with your developer before you move in so they can fix any issues under your warranty.
To recap: how much is a home buyers survey?
- Home Survey Level 2 from £350 (without a valuation) and from £450 (with a valuation)
- Home Survey Level 3: from £500
- RPSA surveys: from £400 to £900
- New-build snagging survey: from £300
Heads up if you’re buying or selling in Scotland
In Scotland, it’s legally the seller’s job to produce a Home Report within 12 weeks of putting their property on the market. This has been the case since 2008, with only a few exceptions – new-build properties, newly converted homes, or those bought under Right to Buy.
The Home Report pack should include:
- A survey and property valuation
- An Energy Report with an Energy Performance Certificate
- A property questionnaire completed by the seller or agent, detailing things like council tax and energy providers
As a buyer, you may still want to get your own survey though, especially if you have any concerns about the condition, location, or style of the property.
Thinking of buying a home? Try Habito Plus
If you’re buying in England or Wales, and you’d like full support with the home-buying process that includes a property survey, you might like our Habito Plus service. We help you sort everything, including the mortgage, the legal work, and we get you a survey on the condition of the property before you commit to buying it.
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