Not all buyers will hire a surveyor, but we highly recommend having a home survey completed to ensure the home you are buying is the right investment and for peace of mind. 

Commissioning a survey will reduce the chance of issues appearing after purchase, that can provide unnecessary worry, hassle and unplanned costs. By hiring a surveyor, we’re with you every step of the way to look after your interests.

So here’s how to choose the best surveyor for you. 

What is a Property Surveyor? 

A property surveyor is a qualified surveying professional who is fully trained and qualified, having many years experience in reviewing the physical condition of a property, identifying possible problems – including dampness problems, structural movement, timber decay, woodworm, plumbing and roof leaks just to name a few. Your surveyor will highlight any past, current or potential future considerations that will enable you to consider and maybe negotiate with the current owners.

You should carefully consider the qualifications and suitability of your chosen surveyor and ideally look for an AssocRICS, MRICS or FRICS, RICS Chartered Surveyor, who is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. You can rest assured that an RICS Regulated Firm will have the suitable training, skills and experience to ensure your, in safe hands. 

It’s a good idea to talk to your surveyor beforehand, as they will be only too happy to chat through any worries or concerns you might have. 

You should also think about the age and type of construction of the property that you’re buying as there will always be a suitable survey option we can offer you, whether the property is 10 years old or 400, there will be a suitable option we can offer you.

Think of it in terms of Level 1 being for smaller, very modern houses whereas a Level 3 is for older, more complex properties that will require a very considered and more technical approach.

A level 1 Survey is a bit like a car MOT, with a very basic level overview of the various elements, whereas, both a Survey Level 2 and 3 will provide more in-depth details on the property you plan to buy. 

The Survey Level 3, being the most comprehensive option, that can be tailored to both you and the building, will provide the most in-depth analysis and report, meaning the surveyor will include more technical guidance, on not just defect analysis, but building materials, maintenance considerations, when planned works should be carried out together with lots of reference photographs and guidance within the report.

Choosing your surveyor is as important as choosing the right level of survey, as each level will differ greatly in terms of the level of detail, content and advice that the surveyor is able to provide. Make every effort to talk to your proposed surveyor, as they’d be happy to discuss any concerns you might have and will be happy to advise on the condition of the property and provide a written report of all their findings and recommendations. 

So what Level of Survey is right for you?

Level 1 Condition Report

A condition report is the most basic level of property survey you can have done. This is not to be confused with your lender’s mortgage valuation report – which is carried out independently by your mortgage lender to confirm the value of your property. 

A condition report will inspect most areas of the property and will summarise any visible defects. This type of report is the cheapest to have done but will provide you with the least amount of information. Think of this level of survey, as being similar to that of a car MOT, it’s a pass or a fail scenario. This level of report does not give advice as it is quite basic in nature.

Level 2 Survey

A more detailed level 2 survey, often referred to as a ‘Homebuyer report’ will go into more depth than a condition report, including looking for more serious structural issues, inspecting problems such as dampness, structural movement, timber decay, and any other additional items of disrepair noted throughout the the property, assessing insulation, providing background information and giving details of any major faults they come across. This report provides more detailed advice on urgent and significant defects that you will need to consider before purchasing.

Level 3 Building Survey

The most detailed and comprehensive survey, often referred to as a ‘Building survey’ is a very thorough inspection that looks into the condition of the property in greater detail. It will involve the surveyor inspecting all visible and accessible parts of the property, including inside cupboards. For non accessible areas like high roofs, Carpenter Surveyors will use drones to access and provide peace of mind, providing a safe and simple way to inspect without adding extra costs. 

A building survey report will provide a very detailed report and will include expert advice on all the matters raised in the report. The surveyor will rest for damp and the presence of any hazardous materials, and check timber and roof conditions – including any signs of woodworm. In addition to the report, they will also provide recommendations for specialists that will be able to offer further inspections of the property, this could be to do with off mains drainage for example. 

A property surveyor will do the following:

  1. Give an overall opinion and summary of the condition 
  2. Provide important information about the property 
  3. Examine outside the property
  4. Examine inside the property 
  5. Report on dangerous materials such as asbestos and any risks
  6. Carry out a visual inspection of the various services
  7. Inspect grounds such as shared areas for flats 
  8. Highlight legal issues for your solicitor 
  9. Highlight the main risks to the building, grounds and people
  10. Give an impartial valuation if you need one
  11. Given a BCIS insurance calculation if you need one
  12. Provide a drone aerial inspection of the property if you need one
  13. Provide advice on repairs needed and how urgent these might be
  14. Provide advice on any upgrading, maintenance and repair/replacements needed
  15. Discuss any follow up queries you might have before or after the survey

How do I know when to instruct a surveyor when buying a house? 

After your mortgage offer has been issued, and ideally within 7-10 days of having your offer accepted is an ideal time to send in your property surveyor. We would always advise that you try to make early contact with your surveyor, as they can provide you with lead in time for conducting the property inspection for you, and discuss quotations and options with you.

Check their reviews

The best way to assess a Chartered Building Surveyor is to read the online feedback from previous customers. Check out things like Facebook, Google Reviews and TrustPilot that provide an independent source of information and feedback, outside of the company’s website. 

Cost

It’s easy to simply choose the cheapest option, but sometimes it’s about seeing what the comparable options are, and if you get anything more for your money. Remember, whilst a survey is a cost, it’s something that can save you a huge amount of money in the long run. Don’t be afraid to chat to your surveyor, ask them questions, consider their training, qualifications and CV, ask to see a sample copy of an example survey report, so you can get a better understanding of what you are paying for. 

RICS Regulated

Always choose an RICS Regulated Chartered Surveyor (which all Carpenter’s team of surveyors are!). RICS is the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which means the professionals you choose will have to adhere to a strict code of conduct, and if you do have any issues with the service you received, you can go to RICS for more information. Carpenter Surveyors are also members of the RPSA, the Residential Property Surveyors Association and MEWI, who are the Expert Witness Institute. Rest assured, by choosing Carpenter Surveyors, you will be in not only very experienced, well trained and capable hands, but have the benefit of an RICS Regulated firm with the benefit of over 30-years trading history.

Availability

You may be on a tight deadline, so make sure to discuss your key dates with the surveyor, so as to ensure you choose a surveyor that can accommodate your timetable in a quick and in efficient manner. Most surveyors will be able to tell you what their availability is, and how long it takes them to inspect the property, carry out the follow on research and create the final report for you, before you book them. 

The final report

You will receive the report after the surveyor has carried out their visit on your property. Sometimes they include photographs (Survey Level dependant), but even without them, the report will highlight any areas of concern that you surveyor will be only too happy to chat through with you.

All our survey reports are written in clear, straightforward language, with minimal jargon, enabling you to understand them and negotiate with the seller if needed. 

By choosing a smaller family practice such as Carpenter Surveyors, having been in the business for over 30 years, we know how to look after our clients, every step of the way. Don’t take our word for it though, please take the time to look through our very many amazing reviews, from our previous clients!