Property Advice on Housing Surveys in NI


Housing surveys are essential for the protection of purchasers and their lenders. Whilst sellers are obliged to disclose information about the property, the basic underlying agreement is that the buyer takes the property as it is.  These surveys are a good way to avoid unexpected costs further down the line and will give you a good idea of how much you need to invest in your new home after you buy it.

This guide to housing surveys explains the different types of surveys available, what each survey entails and how much you can expect to pay for the different surveys.

What is a house survey?

A house survey is a professional inspection of a property’s condition. These inspections are carried out by a surveyor who will visit the house and create a report that outlines any problems that they have found.

There are many different types of surveys and the one that you choose will dictate how thorough the review is and what areas of the home are inspected.

What are the different types of house surveys?

There are a number of different housing surveys available to you. Which survey you choose will depend on your budget and the depth of assessment that you would like.

The 3 main types of house surveys are:

  • Condition Report (Level 1)
  • Homebuyer Report (Level 2)
  • Building Survey (Level 3)

Condition Report (Level 1)

A Condition Report is the most basic type of survey that you can get. It is suitable for new-build properties and conventional homes that are in good condition.

This report uses a traffic light system to indicate the condition of the different parts of the property. Green connotes that this area is good, amber symbolises there is some cause for concern whilst red signals that serious repairs are needed.

A Condition Report does not contain advice or a valuation.

Homebuyer Report (Level 2)

According to the RICS, a Homebuyer Report is the most popular type of survey and the standard type for most houses that are in a reasonable condition.

The Homebuyer Report is a non-intrusive visual inspection in which the surveyor will inspect the visible areas of your property and report any defects they find. However, the surveyor will not lift floorboards, look behind furniture etc. If you are looking for a more comprehensive survey, then the Building Survey (Level 3) may be what you are searching for.

Some Homebuyer Reports also include a valuation. If the survey reveals a lower price than the mortgage lender’s valuation, you may be able revise your offer.

If there is no valuation included, you could use the report’s findings to renegotiate the price.

Building Survey (Level 3)

Formerly known as a Structural Survey, this is the most comprehensive survey and can take a couple of days to complete.

A level 3 survey provides an in-depth analysis of both the property’s structure and condition, making it a great survey choice for buildings that are over 50 years old, an unusual design or in a poor condition. You will be given a detailed report at the end which will include advice on repairs, provide estimated timings and costs, and also will tell you what will happen if you do not do these repairs.

This survey will inspect all the visible and accessible areas of the home including walls, floors, cellars, doors, windows, roof, garages etc.

A valuation is not usually included in a Building Survey but it may be requested at an additional cost.

How much is a survey on a house?

The cost of a housing survey will depend on the location, size and type of property in question. How much you will pay for a survey also depends on which type you choose.

Costs of a Condition Report usually start around £250 but prices can vary according to the size of the property.

In terms of a Homebuyer Report, prices can start at around £400. If you opt for a valuation alongside this survey, then you may be charged an extra £100 – £150. Again, the total price of the survey will depend on the size of the property.

A Building Survey is the most extensive and therefore the most expensive housing survey. This option can cost between £600 and £2,000, depending on the size of the property.

Where to find a surveyor?

You will be able to find a qualified, professional and knowledgeable surveyor on the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) website.

Members of the RICS are closely regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and each surveyor must follow stringent codes of conduct to ensure high standards are maintained in public interest.

Do I need to get a house survey?

A new home will be the largest purchase that many of us make in our lifetime. While housing surveys are optional, they will save a lot of time, effort and money in the long run. A survey can also offer peace of mind as you will know if there are any major defects or problems with the property before moving in. Getting a house survey will also allow you to budget for any work that needs doing to rectify these problems.

Depending on the information you receive from the survey, you might decide to renegotiate the price of the property, or in some cases if the damage is too costly, you might reconsider whether this is the right property for you.

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