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Check before you buy – a guide to the different levels of home surveys

24/04/23Check before you buy – a guide to the different levels of home surveys

Buying a house, building your own or renovating can be exciting, but only if you plan properly. The words ‘home survey’ can feel a little daunting, but carrying out a survey is vital before you buy a house to know the condition of the property before you purchase.

What is a home survey?

A home survey is an inspection of a property by a qualified surveyor, who will identify any problems or issues with the house. A survey is usually carried out after an offer has been accepted. Some of the issues a surveyor will be looking for that can cause significant damage to a property are damp, invasive plants, such as Japanese knotweed, structural movement or subsidence, dry rot and electrical issues. The type of survey required depends on the type of house you’re buying. There are three levels for home surveys, going from the more basic Level One through to an in-depth survey at Level Three.

Level One Home Survey

This level is known as a condition report and is the most basic of the three. This survey is usually used if a house is modern and looks to be in good condition. It doesn’t go into great depth but it will let you know, using a traffic light system, if there are any problems with the house; red indicates there are significant problems, amber where there are non-urgent issues that need repairing through to green which means the area referenced needs no repairs. Unlike the more comprehensive reports this level survey doesn’t offer advice on repairs or the costings. This survey is only recommended on a property that is less than five years old. It is useful for sellers wishing to consider undertaking remedial works before going to the market.

Level Two Home Survey

This is often referred to as the homebuyer’s report and is the most common paper report for a house. This survey is suitable for relatively modern homes in reasonable condition and will look at everything in more detail than a Level One survey. It will highlight any problems that might affect the property's value and include the surveyor's advice on repairs and ongoing maintenance. It should also highlight issues such as damp and subsidence and point out anything that doesn't meet current building regulations. This inspection will only identify issues you can see; it is a non-invasive inspection and the surveyor will not be able to look under floorboards or behind furniture, unless floorboards are exposed and already loose. Small items of furniture can be moved. Ie. beds, wardrobes etc will not be moved.

Level Three Home Survey

If you’re looking at buying a property over the age of fifty years and really want a thorough inspection to make sure the building is structurally sound, this is the survey you should go for. The level of inspection is similar to a Homebuyers however the level of reporting is much more detailed. This is a worthwhile report if you plan to do any significant changes and really want to know everything about the property’s condition. The report will list any visible defects and where possible identify the cause and also advise on repairs and maintenance.

The popular phrase a ‘birds-eye view’ comes to mind with the latest method of looking at a building’s structure from above. We now use drones in our Level 3 home survey, or as an added extra for our Level 2 home survey to look at the condition of the property’s roof, chimneys and guttering. Drones can capture high resolution images and data on an area, subject to weather conditions and possible restricted zones ie. properties near airports.

A house purchase is one of the most expensive and important financial decisions you will make. This makes it essential to ensure that the condition of the property is known before entering into a contract. Forge Property Consultants is expert in carrying out home surveys and drone surveys too. For more information please contact us here


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