Frequently asked questions
I am buying a property. Which kind of survey do I need?
There is no obligation to have any survey as part of the process of purchasing a house, however it is sensible to do so.
There are three main types of residential property survey. The most basic is a valuation which is really just that; it assesses the value of your property in current market conditions. It does not tell you much about the integrity of the property unless there is a really glaring defect. If you are buying your property with a mortgage then your lender will instruct a surveyor to carry this out for you. You will pay for this within your fees paid to the mortgage lender. Most mortgage lenders will send you a copy of the valuation report but they are not obliged to do so, even though you are paying for it.
A Homebuyer Report is considerably more detailed than a valuation report and is suitable for the vast majority of properties. It is a standard report designed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). It has a helpful 'traffic light' condition ratings system as follows:
- Condition Rating 1 (green) - No repair is 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 report is usually around 25 pages. It is divided into easily readable and logical sections:-
We will also include a detailed photographic appendix which is vital for highlighting any defects. These will not be the kind of photos you would see from the estate agent but pictures of, for instance, a damp reading, a particular crack in the wall or perhaps highlighting some repointing work that may need to be undertaken.
If you are having a mortgage it is usually possible to request a Homebuyer Report to be bolted on to your basic valuation so that they are carried out by the same surveyor in the same inspection. However due to the number of panels the instruction passes through from the lender down to the surveyor this is usually a more expensive way of doing it, and you will also be unable to choose your surveyor. Coming to a small firm directly and cutting out several middle men means that you will normally save money. You will also be able to speak directly to the surveyor if you have any questions about the report after you have read through it. Your mortgage lender will still instruct the valuation surveyor but you can choose your own surveyor to carry out the Homebuyer Report element.
The most detailed survey is a Building Survey (formerly known as a full structural survey). These reports are intended for properties built prior to around 1840 or those of non-standard construction such as stone built/thatched roof. Grade 2 listed properties will almost always require a Building Survey. We are not currently offering Building Surveys as a service.
- A. Introduction to the report
- B. About the inspection
- C. Overall opinion and summary of the condition ratings
- D. About the property
- E. Outside the property
- F. Inside the property
- G. Services
- H. Grounds (including shared areas for flats)
- I. Issues for your legal advisers
- J. Risks
- K. Valuation
- L. Surveyor's declaration
I am selling/staircasing a Shared Ownership Property and need an RICS valuation. Can you do this?
Yes, we carry out several valuations for Shared Ownership properties every week and are familiar with the criteria the report needs to meet. We will need you to tell us who your share is with and your current % share.
Please email us at
firstname.lastname@example.org and we will arrange a mutually convenenient time to come to the property.
I need a valuation from an RICS surveyor to pay off the government Help to Buy loan I took out through Target. Can you help?
Yes, we carry out several valuations for the Help to Buy scheme every week and are familiar with the criteria the report needs to meet. Please email us at email@example.com and we will arrange a mutually convenenient time to come to the property.
How much will my survey cost?
Survey fees vary depending on the property. A Homebuyer Report for a flat starts at £320 including VAT. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a same day quote. If possible please include a link to the property eg on Rightmove. If you do not have a link please let us know how much you are buying the property for, its approximate location, approximate age if known and type of property (eg terrace, detached).
Fees for an RICS valuation, for instance for the redemption of a Help to Buy loan or to sell/buy more shares in a shared ownership property, start at £190 including VAT.
Can I come to the inspection?
No, we do not offer accompanied surveys. Our surveyors need to be able to concentrate fully whilst working. It can be quite distracting to have another person there whilst carrying out the inspection.
How do I make a booking?
If you have received a quote and would like to book a Homebuyer Report please email
email@example.com with the following information and we will take care of the rest:
The names of all purchasers
Your current address and a contact phone number
The address of the property to be surveyed
The agent marketing the property (including telephone number)
The agreed purchase price
Any particular concerns
RICS Valuation Reports
To book a valuation please email us at
firstname.lastname@example.org with your phone number, the property address and the purpose of the valuation (eg Help to Buy, shared ownership) and we will contact you to arrange a mutually convenient time for a surveyor to pop round.
How soon after the inspection will I receive my survey report?
Our turnaround for a Homebuyer Report is normally five working days after the inspection has taken place. RICS Valuations (eg for shared ownership and Help to Buy) are normally ready within two working days.
Are you insured?
Yes. We hold PII up to £500000. Surveyors are not allowed to practise without this insurance.
Are you RICS qualified?
Yes. Our three surveyors are all qualified with the RICS and have been surveying property for 30+ years each.
Jeremy Wise's RICS number is 0078717.
Simon Harker's RICS number is 0080659.
Alexander Cruickshank's RICS number is 0077165.
If you are unsure whether your surveyor is RICS qualified you can check on the RICS website
I am in a dispute with my neighbour about a boundary. Can you help?
No, you will need to contact a land surveyor for this.
I have a defect in my property that I am worried about. Can you help?
Please email us with your query, ideally with a photo, and we will advise as to the next steps. This could be a visit from one of our surveyors, or advising you to speak to another professional such as a structural engineer.
I need an expert witness. Can you help?
Depending upon the specific requirement we may be able to help. We have acted in a number of cases as an expert witness. Call the office and we can discuss it or send and email with outline details and we can assist.
Are you carrying out surveys and valuations during the current situation with Covid-19?
Since the government eased lockdown, we are able to carry out a survey of a property which is either vacant, or where the owners are prepared to socially distance from the surveyor within the property whilst the survey is carried out. This is something we would discuss with them if you wish to go ahead.
Our surveyors will take all precautionary measures during the survey, including handwashing and wearing PPE. As the survey is a visual inspection there is no need for any surfaces to be touched inside the property.
How soon can you carry out the survey inspection?
Generally speaking, we book Homebuyer inspections about a week ahead from the time you instruct us. This can vary depending on demand. We may be able to carry it out sooner, or in busier periods we may be booking up to two weeks ahead. **Since the government annoucement of the stamp duty holiday, survey demand has significantly increased, so two weeks between booking and inspection is normal at the current time.**
Valuations can usually be carried out within a few days as the inspections take less time.
We try to manage our online presence so that we are less visible when we are busy, in order to keep waiting times for our current clients to a mimimum.