Independent Chartered Building and Property Surveyors

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Homebuyer Survey Checklist

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  • 14-02-2019
Homebuyer Survey Checklist

When buying a house, it's essential to commission a suitable property survey to help you understand the condition of the property before committing to the purchase.

Many factors will determine the type of survey you choose, including the size and age of the property, the building style and how thorough you want the surveyor to check the house before buying.

The two types of survey available are:

  • HomeBuyers Survey

  • Building Survey

These two surveys reports are designed for different purposes, but they are both widely used when purchasing a property. The type of survey you choose depends on numerous things such as the property itself, what your intentions are to do with your property, and the information you need to provide to any third party or to know yourself.

Some of the questions you should consider when choosing a survey include:

  • How old is the property?

  • Are you planning any significant structural changes?

  • Is the building of conventional construction?

  • Are there any particular issues regarding the structure that concern you?

  • Is a valuation required?

If you are not sure which type of survey you require, you can speak to our highly professional team who will answer all your questions and give you any information you need.


What is the Difference Between a Homebuyers Survey and a Building Survey?

The main differences between a Homebuyer Survey and Building Surveys are that the Building Survey is a lot more comprehensive, and will give you a highly detailed review on the condition of your house.

The Building Survey will include all the elements of an independent HomeBuyer Report, apart from the valuation. It will also give a more in-depth summary of the property's condition.

The Building Survey report you receive will include detailed advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options.

A Building Survey is generally recommended for much older properties that were built more than 100 years ago, or are much larger and offer very extensive accommodation.

They are also used for properties that have undergone a significant extension or alteration or are of non-traditional construction. You should also have a Building Survey if you are planning to alter the property in the future.

A comprehensive visual inspection which includes a more thorough consideration of the roof space, grounds, floors and services. They will establish how the property has been built, and the materials used for its construction.

The report will also detail how these materials will perform in the future. A Building Survey will also outline any repair options and the consequences of not acting upon them.    

Valuation or Survey?

A Valuation is very different from a survey, though they are interchangeable. If the property you are trying to buy has a mortgage, the mortgage company you are working with will conduct a basic valuation of the house to determine if it's worth the money you are planning to pay, or you are paying.

After the mortgage company finishes the valuation, you will be given a detailed mortgage valuation explaining everything you need to know. However, you should know that the mortgage valuation does not contain possible flaws that the house might have because it is not a survey.

Therefore, it is up to the potential homeowner to hire a competent surveyor to do a thorough inspection of the house to determine whether or not to buy the house.

Homebuyer Survey Checklist - family moving into new property

Preparing your home for a valuation

Since the chartered surveyor will have to look inside the property, you can prepare in advance to speed up the process and have minimal disruptions. Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Take plant off the window sills
  • Move the furniture away from the exterior walls
  • Tidy and clean the property
  • Clear or remove items from areas that have common problem 

If you have enough time and resources, you can start packing and arranging your belongings to give the surveyor time to look at what they want to Surveyors usually know the places to look and how to do it. To avoid inconveniences, you can move heavy items to areas that don’t need a lot of surveying. 

If you are worried the surveyor will have a bad report, you can repair any minor defects. Some of the things you can do include:

  • Scrubbing mould off your bathroom tiles
  • Fixing dripping taps by replacing them or replacing the washers
  • Filing any hairline decorative cracking
  • Repairing broken wood

What do Surveyors Look for in a HomeBuyers Survey?

The Homebuyer Survey is always carried out by our RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Chartered Surveyor.

This type of standard survey is suitable for modern and conventional homes that are in reasonable and good condition as it will visually inspect any apparent issues or defects with the property. For non-standard, older, dilapidated dwellings in need of extensive repairs or work, a far more detailed Building Survey is recommended.

A comprehensive survey will uncover hidden and less visually apparent issues. A Homebuyer Survey will include a visual inspection of all significant indoor features of the property including bathrooms, walls, ceilings and the roof.

It also consists of an inspection of all permanent outdoor buildings and features which includes windows, walls and doors, gutters, pipes and roofing. All Homebuyer Survey inspections will involve looking in the loft space, that is assuming there's access (usually via a hatch in the ceiling).

The surveyor must look in the loft to confirm the condition of the roof. The surveyor can also check the insulation and ventilation in the loft space. They will also be able to check the condition of any pipes and tanks that are in the loft.

The Homebuyer Survey will also uncover any structural problems with the property such as any subsidence. The damp proofing, insulation and drainage will also be inspected by the surveyor. The surveyor will also check damp-proofing, drainage, insulation, and they will damp test the walls to ensure damp is not present within the property.

With regards to testing the gas or electric in the property, the surveyor will assess the condition by turning on the heating and lights; however, they are not qualified gas engineers or electricians, and for this reason, they cannot test the gas or electrics.

The surveyor will only inspect parts of the house that are immediately visible. They will not lift any carpets or look behind the furniture. Some surveyors bring ladders so they can examine the loft space; however, not all of them do.

What won’t the surveyor check?

The surveyor should inspect and try to gather as much information as possible during the house survey. However, some things or conditions may deter the surveyor from accessing all the parts that should be inspected. Some of these things are:

  • Missing keys to some windows or doors
  • Drain covers that are too heavy to lift
  • Heavy furniture that’s blocking areas that should be inspected
  • Fitted floor coverings
  • Loft hatches and doors that cannot open easily or that do not open at all
  • Limited access to the loft or loft insulation that’s hindering the view
  • Inability to access garages, gardens and other outbuildings
surveyor discussing over drawing plans

If the surveyor was unable to complete a full survey due to limited access, you could ask the owner of the home to offer needed help to the surveyor after a day or two to have a full report.

Alternatively, the surveyor can ask the homeowner to move some items to allow easy access and inspection. If you are the homeowner and you've made some repairs, you should not overestimate the cost of your home to avoid scaring the buyer away.


Are you looking for a Homebuyer Survey in Maidstone and Kent? Contact your local Independent Chartered Surveyor.