How often do you spend tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds on a single item? This is a massive amount of REAL money!
And how often do you buy a single item that might, potentially, be riddled with very expensive problems which a trained eye would have spotted? – Not very often!

So, what’s the best thing to do? – say to yourself “it looks OK to me”, and risk buying without a survey, only to discover when you move in that your new home has a major problem.

Or maybe you rely on your mortgage valuation (a fatal mistake – it’s NOT A SURVEY!),

or do you invest a tiny fraction of its value on a professional survey which would give you peace of mind and, possibly, save you many thousands of pounds.

Assuming you make the smart decision, which type of survey should you get? It’s important to understand the difference between the 4 types of inspection available and what each one is designed to provide.


Formal, professional valuations of property are required for a number of purposes, including Market Valuations, Mortgage, Secured loan, Equity release/purchase, Probate, Insurance and Tax valuations etc and, although they are NOT and should NEVER be mistaken for a survey, matters which may ‘materially affect value’ have to be taken into consideration; These ‘matters’ would, of course, include significant defects.

But, remember, if you’re getting a mortgage to buy a property, the inspection carried out by your lender/mortgage company is only designed to tell THEM what THEY need to know and is NOT meant to inform you what condition the property is in, so, you must NEVER rely on it because it’s NOT A SURVEY!.

If you want a specific report to advise you of the condition of a property, the ONLY option is to get a proper, professional survey, which could be either a LEVEL 2 HOMEBUYER SURVEY (WITH OR WITHOUT A VALUATION), an RICS CONDITION REPORT or a BUILDING SURVEY. In the vast majority of cases the Level 2 Homebuyer Survey is ideal, although, if a property is obviously in a very poor state of repair or very old, then a Building Survey might be more suitable.


Although the Level 2 Homebuyer Survey is an ‘economy’ report, it is a thorough and comprehensive survey designed specifically to assist you, the prospective purchaser,

  • to make a reasoned and informed judgement on whether or not to proceed with the purchase,
  • to be clear what decisions and actions should be taken before contracts are exchanged.

The general condition of the property, focusing on matters which the surveyor judges to be urgent and/or significant, is, therefore, fully covered, together with any particular features which affect its present value or may affect its future saleability.

The Services (gas, water, electricity etc), although inspected, are NOT tested and furniture/floor coverings are not moved/lifted. So, whilst being comprehensive, the inspection is, nevertheless, constrained by accessibility, safety and practicality considerations.

If a valuation is included, an opinion will be given on whether or not the proposed purchase price is reasonable, having regard particularly to the condition and location of the property, and a Re-instatement Cost Valuation will also be provided to advise you of the minimum sum for which the property should be insured.

The Level 2 Homebuyer Survey is suitable for most properties, although, if a property is particularly old or in a poor state of repair, then a Building Survey may be more appropriate.


Choose this report if you’re buying or selling a conventional house, flat or bungalow built from common building materials and in reasonable condition. It focuses purely on the condition of the property by setting out the following: • clear ‘traffic light’ ratings of the condition of different parts of the building, services, garage and outbuildings, showing problems that require varying degrees of attention;
• a summary of the risks to the condition of the building; and • other matters including guarantees, planning and building control issues for your legal advisers. An RICS Condition Report does not include a valuation, but your surveyor may be able to provide this as a separate extra service.


For older, unusual or Listed properties and those clearly in a poor state of repair, a full Building Survey is more appropriate. Whereas the Homebuyer Survey is a concise report and focuses on significant/urgent matters, a Building Survey is very detailed, sometimes technical, and reports on all defects, however small. Usually, a Building Survey will also give an indication of the cost of repairs and can be tailored to suit your particular requirements.

PLEASE NOTE: The information provided is for guidance only and should NOT be used as a substitute for essential professional assistance.