What is a homebuyer survey?

Home buying

24 November 2020

No one likes a nasty surprise – especially when you’re moving into a new home. Those unexpected issues can quickly add up. So why not avoid unwanted bills and unneeded stress with a homebuyer survey? While these reports aren’t required as part of the house buying process, they certainly provide some much-needed peace of mind.

In this guide, you’ll find most of what you need to know about a homebuyer survey: what they include, how much they cost and where to find a surveyor.

What is a homebuyer survey?

In a nutshell, a homebuyer survey documents any visible problems with your property that could cause future damage. This includes the likes of damp and subsidence. Should the worst come to worst and the surveyor finds some major problems, you’ll have a few options. You could ask the seller to fix these problems before you proceed with the purchase, or re-negotiate the price.

A homebuyer survey is a non-intrusive, visual inspection; so those classic hardwood floorboards and newly-laid carpets won’t be ripped up as part of the inspection. So, if you just want a surface level overview of the property, this is the survey for you. If you need something more thorough, you may want to consider getting a building survey.

What is included in a homebuyer survey?

It may just be a surface level inspection, but you’ll be glad to know the survey is still pretty extensive. As part of the survey, your surveyor will look over:

  • Walls
  • Ceilings
  • Roofs
  • Bathtubs
  • Outdoor buildings
  • Pipes
  • Gutters
  • Windows
  • Doors

The inspection will also include the property’s heating, electric, gas, oil and water. As part of this you’ll receive an energy efficiency rating. Pretty robust, right? These checks will help uncover any structural problems as well as signs of damp, woodworms, rot and anything else that may have an impact on the property’s value.

But it’s not all problems. The surveyor will provide advice and information on maintenance and repairs. Not everyone is a technical expert though. So, to make the survey easy to understand, they use a colour coded system to highlight the urgency of the issues. The report will also let you know where you may need specialist help or legal advice.

Finally, you can also request for a property valuation as part of this – which will help you re-negotiate the price if needs be.

How much does a homebuyer survey cost?

A homebuyer survey isn’t as expensive as you might think. It costs around £400 – which, in the grand scheme of things, could save you in the long run.

What happens if you find a problem in your homebuyer survey?

Hopefully nothing too serious comes back as part of your homebuyer survey. But, if the surveyor does uncover problems, don’t worry. They’ll be able to answer most of your questions and give you advice on what your next steps should be.

Some of the most common problems that are picked up as part of a homebuyer survey include: structural movement, roof issues, central heating problems, damp and issues that require a structural engineer. Your surveyor will help guide you through what the problem is exactly and what kind of expert you’ll need to bring in to get the problem sorted.

It can obviously get quite pricey if a number of issues are discovered. So don’t be afraid to go back to the seller and see if they can fix some of these problems. You may also be able to re-negotiate on the price of the property if there’s significant work needed.

Where to find a surveyor?

Now that you know what to expect from a homebuyer survey, you might be wondering where to find a qualified surveyor.

The easiest place to find a surveyor is on the RPSA or RICS websites. However, you could also ask friends and family who have recently moved and may have got a homebuyer survey. Your estate agent or solicitor may also be able to help.

And that’s pretty much all you need to know about homebuyer surveys. They may not be required, but they sure are useful. Avoid those nasty surprises. Enjoy moving in. And get a homebuyer survey.