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Giving home buyers critical information
A condition survey is a detailed inspection of a residential property’s condition. There are various types of survey, but most are undertaken by RICS accredited surveyors.
The government and consumer groups recommend that home buyers should strongly consider having a survey carried out. A survey is useful because it will advise on minor maintenance and major works required on the property now and in the future.
Most condition surveys in England and Wales are undertaken by members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). But members of other associations and institutions also undertake condition surveys, such as members of CABE, CIOB and RSPA.
The RICS has mandatory guidance for their members that they must follow when undertaking condition surveyors – The RICS Home Survey Standard. Amongst other things, the Standard defines three levels of service – 1,2 & 3 – and surveyors must ensure their service is clearly benchmarked against one of these levels.
As you move up the 3 levels there is a greater level of inspection and a more detailed advice report. Level 1 reports are only suitable for conventionally built modern dwellings, showing no signs of being in bad condition. Whereas a Level 3 report (previously known as a “Building Survey”) is suitable for larger, older, or run-down properties, a property that is unusual or altered, or if major works are planned. Most condition surveys are Level 2 reports (previously known as a “Home Buyers Report”).
It’s estimated that only 20% of buyers currently commission a condition survey on the property they’re thinking of buying, and therefore a substantial market exists for providing a high-quality professional service.
During the home buying process, if a mortgage is being used, then the bank or building society will undertake a mortgage valuation to manage their financial risk. This is not to be confused with a condition survey.