Essential guide to home buyer surveys

Buying a home is one of the most significant investments you’ll ever make, and ensuring that your new property is in good condition before completing the purchase is crucial. 

Home buyer surveys are an essential part of the home-buying process, offering peace of mind and insightful details about the property you’re about to invest in. 

This guide provides a comprehensive overview of home buyer surveys, from understanding what they are to interpreting the results and everything in between.

What is a home buyer survey?

A home buyer survey is a detailed inspection of a property’s condition conducted by a qualified surveyor. These surveys are designed to identify any major problems that could affect the property’s value or necessitate costly repairs in the future. 

Unlike a basic mortgage valuation, which only assesses whether the property is worth the amount you’re planning to borrow, a home buyer survey provides a thorough analysis of the property’s state, highlighting any areas of concern.

The different types of home buyer surveys

There are several types of home buyer surveys, each varying in depth and detail. Choosing the right one depends on the age, condition, and type of property you’re considering.

Condition report (Level 1 survey)

The Condition Report is the most basic type of survey, providing a clear and concise overview of the property’s condition. It uses a simple traffic light system to rate different parts of the property, highlighting any significant concerns without going into extensive detail. This survey is most suitable for newer homes or those in good condition.

HomeBuyer report (Level 2 survey)

A HomeBuyer Report is more detailed than a Condition Report and is suitable for conventional properties in reasonable condition. It includes all the features of a Condition Report, plus a more thorough inspection. The surveyor will also provide advice on repairs and maintenance. This report is often accompanied by a market valuation.

Building survey (Level 3 survey)

For older, larger, or non-traditional properties, a Building Survey (formerly known as a Structural Survey) is the most comprehensive option. It provides a detailed analysis of the property’s structure and condition, including advice on repairs, maintenance, and any potential legal issues. This survey is particularly useful if you’re planning major renovations.

New build snagging survey

This survey is designed for newly built homes. It identifies any issues or ‘snags’, such as minor faults or finishes that don’t meet the expected standards. Conducting a snagging survey before moving in can help you get these issues rectified by the developer at an early stage.

How much does it cost to get a home buyer survey done?

The cost of a home buyer survey varies depending on the size and type of property, as well as the level of detail provided by the survey. Generally, Condition Reports start from around £250, HomeBuyer Reports from £350, and Building Surveys from £500. 

New build snagging surveys can also vary, typically starting from £300. These costs are indicative and can vary based on location and the surveying company.

Understanding the survey process

Once you’ve chosen the type of survey that best fits your needs, the next step is to appoint a surveyor. It’s essential to choose a qualified and experienced surveyor to ensure a thorough and accurate report. 

The survey process usually involves the surveyor visiting the property, conducting a detailed inspection, and then compiling a report on their findings, which is sent to you.

How to interpret survey results

Interpreting the results of a home buyer survey can seem daunting at first. However, your surveyor should provide a clear and comprehensive report, often using a rating system to highlight any concerns. 

The report will detail any defects or issues discovered during the survey, including their severity and potential impact on the property. It may also provide recommendations for further investigations or repairs. If you have any questions or concerns about the findings, don’t hesitate to discuss them with your surveyor.

FAQs about home buyer surveys

Here are some FAQs about home buyer surveys:

Do I really need a home buyer survey?

While not legally required, a home buyer survey is highly recommended. It can uncover hidden issues that could cost you a significant amount in repairs down the line, giving you the opportunity to make an informed decision about your purchase.

What’s the difference between a mortgage valuation and a home buyer survey?

A mortgage valuation is a basic assessment conducted for the lender’s benefit, ensuring the property is worth the loan amount. In contrast, a home buyer survey focuses on the condition of the property, providing a detailed report for the buyer.

Can I use the survey to negotiate the price?

Yes, if the survey reveals significant problems, you can use the findings to renegotiate the price of the property, ask the seller to make repairs before completion, or decide to withdraw your offer altogether.

How do I choose a surveyor?

When selecting a surveyor, look for qualifications and memberships with recognised bodies such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). At Sett Mortgages, we have partnerships with high-quality surveyors who are experienced in providing detailed and reliable home buyer surveys.

What if the survey finds problems?

If the survey identifies any issues, you’ll need to consider the severity and cost of repairs. This may involve negotiating with the seller or even re-evaluating your decision to purchase the property. In some cases, you may decide to proceed with the purchase but plan for necessary repairs in your budget.

Closing thoughts

Choosing the right home buyer survey can provide invaluable insights into your prospective home, helping you make an informed decision and avoid unexpected costs in the future. 

At Sett Mortgages, we understand the importance of this step in the home-buying process. We’re not just mortgage brokers — we’re your guide through the entire property journey, from finding the right surveyor to securing the best mortgage deal for you. 

If you’re embarking on the exciting path to home ownership and need expert advice, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team is here to support you every step of the way, ensuring a smooth and successful property purchase.

Your home or property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.


  • Elliott Benson

    Meet Elliott, a seasoned mortgage broker with over nine years of experience in property, and the founder of Sett Mortgages. With a background as a sales negotiator and mortgage services manager, he is a trusted professional with extensive knowledge in all things mortgages. Elliott's empathetic approach and clear communication style make him an approachable expert, decoding the complexities of mortgages for clients from diverse backgrounds. He stays up-to-date with the latest trends and regulations, offering cutting-edge solutions tailored to clients' needs. Committed to their financial well-being, he guides them through the mortgage process, ensuring countless successful and satisfied clients. Elliott's passion extends beyond his practice; he's a prolific writer, sharing his knowledge and insights in industry publications and blogs. His mission is to empower others with the information they need to make sound financial decisions.

Your home or property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.