Types of RICS survey

RICS Condition Report

This provides a snapshot of the current condition of the property, identifying any risks and potential legal issues as well as any urgent defects. Choose this report if you’re buying, selling or living in a smaller conventional house, flat or bungalow built from common building materials, which is in a good condition.

It uses ‘traffic light’ ratings of the condition of different parts of the building, services, garage an outbuildings (if applicable), showing problems that require varying degrees of attention. Green shows that everything is okay, orange is some cause for concern and red means serious repairs are required.

The survey includes a summary of the risks to the condition of the building, as well as guarantees, and planning and building control issues for your legal advisers. It covers any structural movement, the presence of damp, rot or woodworm and environmental problems. The assessment looks at the property’s utilities, including heating, drains and electricals.

Importantly, it estimates the necessary costs of bringing the property up to standard, which you can then use to renegotiate the purchase price with the seller.

RICS Homebuyer Report

The report gives you more detailed information and provides the choice of either a survey or survey and valuation. The latter option provides a market valuation and insurance rebuild costs, while they both offer advice on defects that may affect the value of the property when it comes to the cost of repairs and ongoing maintenance.

This is most suitable for conventional properties which are in reasonable to good condition built in the last 150 years and is considered something of an intermediate property survey. It looks at all visible areas of the property, though it is non-obtrusive; so surveyors won’t be drilling holes, moving the furniture or lifting up the carpets.

The report includes legal issues that need to be addressed before completing your conveyancing, as well as information on location, the local environment and the recorded energy efficiency (where available). It notifies you of any obvious major problems like rot and subsidence.

RICS Building Survey 

Also known as a structural survey, this is the most detailed and expensive option. It looks at both a property’s condition and construction, listing both visible defects and those caused by hidden flaws before outlining the repair options and likely consequences of inaction.

The survey provides a detailed report on the risks and potentially dangerous conditions with the property by checking in the attic, behind walls, looking between floors and above ceilings.

As you may have guessed this is essential for larger, older, rundown or simply unusual properties. It is also suitable if you’re planning renovation works.

By default, the Building Survey doesn’t include a valuation, but some surveyors provide this as an extra service.

While these surveys set you back they can be worth the investment if you find hidden details that help to renegotiate the purchase price with the seller.