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The difference between a homebuyer’s report and a building survey

Updated: May 29, 2023

The difference between a homebuyer’s report and a building survey

When you buy a home, having it surveyed before you complete the sale will help you ensure that you know everything there is to know about your investment, including any issues that need attention. Simply put, we aim to find anything which could kill you, cost you a significant amount of money, and frustrate you or issues requiring further investigation. Many of these problems may cause a reduction in value or provide the basis for a re-negotiation as well as peace of mind at purchase. Furthermore, should you not undertake a survey, any existing fundamental issues you are unaware of could frustrate a sale in the future should you decide to sell the property.

Today we uncover the difference between a homebuyer’s report and a building survey. At surrey Surveyors, we provide as many photos as necessary throughout each section of our HomeBuyer reports and Building Surveys. Many other firms do not. We provide captions on our photos to identify the issues raised.

Definition of a Homebuyers Report (L2)

A Level 2 HomeBuyers Report is a suitable choice for conventional homes, flats or bungalows (conventionally constructed), which are relatively well-maintained and in good condition. This type of survey goes into further depth regarding the property's condition and any defects found during the survey. The survey will take around two to four hours for the surveyor to complete depending on the size and condition of the property.

When undertaking this type of inspection, the surveyor will test a selection of windows, doors, fittings and undertake a visual inspection of floor surfaces, roof structure (where accessible) and roof coverings, as well as taking damp meter readings.

Once the survey has been completed, the surveyor provides the buyer with a report that includes a list of defects or issues with a condition rating between 1 and 3 that may affect the property's value or safety. You will learn more about any issues like dampness or subsidence and any aspects of the property. The surveyor will make recommendations for areas your solicitor should focus on. The surveyor will also advise you on recommended repairs and ongoing property maintenance if required.

Homebuyers Report Pros & Cons


  • It is suitable for conventional homes in reasonable condition, covering many different properties.

  • Identifies common issues based on the general condition of the property.

  • Relatively lower cost than a Building Survey.


  • Provides less guidance on further investigations and legal investigations.

  • It does not require furniture to be moved or flooring to come up, etc., so issues may be missed.

Definition of a Building Survey (L3)

The RICS level 3 building survey is recommended for older properties, unconventional homes, higher-value properties and properties which have undergone work. These surveys will give you an in-depth understanding of the property you buy. If you have an older property with run-down features, this survey is recommended if you plan to do significant work on the property. When inspecting, the surveyor will lift floor coverings and insulation and check a higher number of windows, doors and fittings.

Building Survey Pros & Cons


  • A much more in-depth look at the property than a Homebuyer report takes a much more hands-on approach.

  • Outline defects, apparent causes and urgency where repairs are required.

  • Hard to reach the surveyor examines areas.

  • Beneficial if you plan to extend the property.

  • Suited to older homes that have structural issues or were built unconventionally.


  • It takes longer to complete depending on the property size, usually around 4 hours or half a day (depending on the size and nature of the property)

  • This type of survey is more expensive due to being more comprehensive.


When you are putting an offer on and buying a new property, you will want to ensure that you have as much information about it as possible before completion day. This is the main aim of a building survey. Whilst homebuyer reports are suitable for conventional, more modern homes, the type of survey you need will depend on the property.

A level 3 survey is recommended for older properties in poor condition as it will provide a more comprehensive report than a homebuyer's survey.

Whether you get a homebuyer's report or a building survey will depend on the type of property you want to buy and the depth of information you require. Need more information on the different types of surveys?

Contact Surrey Surveyors at 07872163313 or

Book your survey with Surrey Surveyors today.

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