Is it worth paying for a home survey?

You might expect us to say ‘definitely’ but ‘probably’ would be my honest answer.

A Chartered Surveyor will spend between two and six hours in the property and will follow a set routine so no elements are overlooked. Even if you have a good knowledge of property you are unlikely to be able to spend long enough to assess the condition in full whilst the owner or estate agent is showing you around. As independent professionals we will do our best to provide an objective assessment which should be acceptable to all involved in the transaction.

For those with less experience or knowledge about property we continually identify unforeseen defects which would cost thousands if not tens of thousands of pounds to repair. Recent examples include an extension built of concrete panels (like a cheap garage) but made to look like normal block-work, extensions of slender sub-standard half-brick construction (two in the last two weeks) and a septic tank well past its sell-by date. Dangerous boilers and electrical systems are common and materials containing asbestos are present in many properties often in innocuous products such as textured ceiling finishes, plastic floor tiles, water tanks, eaves joinery, flue components, boarding, garage ceilings, WC cisterns, insulation products…..

If you are buying a modern house then a full building survey may be less appropriate and a RICS Condition Report or RICS HomeBuyer Report should be considered. These cost from £200 and are a reasonable option which will give peace of mind.

When carrying out a home survey on – or buying – a modern house it is important not to be complacent, I find myself often thinking of a newly built house in Westbury which has had the flank wall supported by an array of scaffold for the last few years. Only last week did I inspect a flat (c. 2005) that had been built with no insulation in the roof or walls despite having NHBC and presumably Building Control approval. In fact it was not just that one flat it was the whole road and possibly a large part of the estate which was also built in a flood risk area. Again in the last few weeks we inspected a newly built house which had fairly significant problems with the roof coverings which we are hoping to have rectified by the developer before completion.

Standard phrases are used primarily for non-property specific areas such as coal mining advice but the sections describing the main elements are substantially written from scratch to give an accurate reflection of the construction and condition of each property. This is the case for both HomeBuyer Reports and Building Surveys. Inspecting a property and producing the report is probably on average six to eight hourss work. For a larger house it will be 12 to 15 hours’ work.

For more information on which home survey to choose, please contact us by phone on 0845 478 6305 or by email to