Which survey do I need?

Market Valuation

This is the simplest, cheapest survey, which is similar to those required by a lending institution. Essentially these aim to reassure the lender that the property is sufficient security against the loan being offered. These are usually based upon no more than a visual inspection by a qualified surveyor, and often contain not much more information than a general description of the property. Often suited to newly built properties, if you are buying an older home, it is better to get a more comprehensive survey.

Home Buyer Survey

A new RICS Home Buyer Report (HBR) was introduced in July 2009.  Initially this ran alongside the previous RICS Homebuyer Survey and Valuation (HSV) which had been in use for a number of years.  The HSV was phased out in March 2010 and the new Home Buyer Report became the only one that was licensed by the RICS.

The report was quite a radical departure from earlier formats and was developed following considerable market research and feedback from the general public.  It was designed to be a user-friendly report with the minimum of technical jargon.  The most significant change was the introduction of colour coded Condition Ratings usually referred to as the ‘Traffic Lights System’.  The surveyor must rate each element of the property using one of the following Condition Ratings.

  • Condition Rating 1 (green) – No repair currently needed.  The property must be maintained in the normal way.
  • Condition Rating 2 (amber) – Defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered to be either serious or urgent. The property must be maintained in the normal way.
  • Condition Rating 3 (red) – Defects that are serious and/or need to be repaired, replaced or investigated urgently.

The RICS also offer a product called a ‘Condition Report’.  This is a simplified version of the Homebuyer Report and includes many of the elements discussed above, including the ‘Traffic Lights System’ for flagging up defects.  The Condition Report does not, however, include a Valuation or advice on future repairs and maintenance.  The Condition Report can be commissioned by vendors, prior to putting their property on the market, to prevent unforeseen issues cropping up when their potential purchaser has a mortgage valuation or survey carried out.

Home Condition Surveys.

A Home Condition Survey (HCS) is a similar survey available through the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and is in a similar reporting style to the RICS Home Buyer Report but without a Market Valuation figure. It contains information about the physical condition of the property which buyers will be able to rely on as an accurate report as to the condition of the property. It uses a simple colour coded 1,2,3 rating guide so it is easy to understand. Each element of the property, for example the roof, walls, ceilings etc. is thoroughly examined and given a rating. This is on a three point scale:

  •  ‘1’ rating indicates either no defect present or if the works are very minimal and could be classed as normal maintenance;
  •  ‘2’ rating indicates that repairs are required but the home inspector does not consider these to be serious or urgent
  •  ‘3’ rating is applied if urgent works are required or maybe further investigation should be carried out.

The report also contains other essential information including highlighting any health and safety risks and providing a reinstatement cost figure which can be used for insuring your property in the event of maximum loss.

Both Home Buyer Surveys and Home Condition Surveys are suitable for most properties built in the last 100 years, identifying all significant defects. However, for properties built before 1880, for larger properties, or those of non-standard construction, a more detailed and specialist survey may be more appropriate.

Structural Survey

This is the most expensive and detailed survey. It is particularly suited to properties built before 1880, listed properties, or properties that you plan to renovate. It offers more scope for the surveyor to customise the report and provide details on defects, but it does not include a valuation.


To discuss your individual requirements, please contact us on 01983 522144.