Getting a survey is a good way to avoid the stress and cost of making repairs further down the line. Only one in five home-buyers bother with a professional property report, so it’s no surprise that many are hit with repair bills once they move in. Often, sellers of sub-standard property rely on attracting buyers who don’t want the expense of a survey; and there are many horror stories about buyers or their advisors not noticing structural defects until after the purchase is made.


The traditional approach is to let the buyer pay for their own survey – but a clever seller would consider a survey and report as an investment, e.g. in getting a faster sale, with a premium price for the property. If the property has defects, why not get a survey to inform you as to what needs to be done before you sell it? You are very likely to be able to get the work done cheaper than the estimate given on a buyer’s report and fixing it up will add to the value before it goes on the market.


You might have found cracks, or other damage may have occurred which could be subject to an insurance claim. A report from a surveyor appointed by your insurers will not necessarily be in your best interests. Find a good, independent and conscientious surveyor and you will get value for money.


Choose a survey based on the condition of the property itself, not the cost of the survey. A quick telephone call will help you to get an idea of likely costs. Types of survey can include:

The Mortgage Valuation Report is to satisfy the lender that your desired property is worth the amount of the loan, before they approve your mortgage. A valuation is just that – it will not point out repairs or structural problems that you will have to pay to fix. Generally, you will pay for the lender’s survey, but sometimes lenders offer mortgages with free valuation surveys.

A Condition Report is a basic survey, most suitable for new-build and conventional homes in good condition. No advice or valuation is provided in this survey, but it will highlight any defects found.

A Home Buyer Report is a survey suitable for conventional properties in reasonable condition and should help you find out if there might be structural problems, such as subsidence or damp, as well as any other unwelcome hidden issues inside and outside. But the Home Buyer Report doesn’t look under or behind the surfaces and will require the additional services of a Structural Engineer if structural defects are suspected. Some home-buyers’ reports include a property valuation, but if there’s no valuation included, you could use the report’s suggestions for repairs to renegotiate the price. For example, if it’s going to cost you £5,000 to carry out remedial works, it’s reasonable to offer £5,000 less than the asking price.

The Building Survey (or ‘Structural Survey’) is the most comprehensive survey and is suitable for all residential properties. It’s particularly good for older homes and provides detailed advice on repairs. It is very thorough and worth the extra money. The surveyor will seek permission to look under floorboards or behind walls, etc. if it is deemed necessary and the report should include the surveyor’s opinion on the potential for hidden defects with information on potential repair options. Again, you could try to save money off the purchase price by comparing the details of the repairs required against the lender’s valuation.


The surveys described above are for guidance only and your situation may require a unique solution, so if you are unsure of what to ask for, the best thing to do is to meet your surveyor on site for a chat. He or she can then help you to determine what will be of most benefit and value for money. 



You need a qualified professional with suitable experience and extensive knowledge of the technical aspects of buildings. I am both an experienced Chartered Architectural Technologist and a Structural Engineer, so ideally qualified for the job.



A surveyor’s report nearly always finds some issues, especially with older homes, so ask questions about things that concern you. This is about your future home, so don’t be afraid to speak up. First, find out if any defects are covered by a guarantee. Then ask for an idea of the likely cost of remedial works. If you are buying the property, use these estimates to try to renegotiate the price or ask the seller to fix the issues before you complete the sale. If it all seems too much, you can walk away as you’re not committed yet.


I hope this helps you so far and please feel free to contact me if you need advice.