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What is a Building Survey? (2023)

Building Survey

When purchasing a property, it's crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of its condition and potential issues before making a significant investment. One effective way to gain such insights is through a Building Survey.

In this blog post, we will delve into what a Building Survey entails, why it is essential for property buyers, and how it can help you make informed decisions when navigating the real estate market.

Building Survey, Level 3 Survey or Structural Survey

A Building Survey is sometimes called a Level 3 Survey or a Structural Survey. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveys (RICS) now call the Building Survey the Home Survey (Level 3). Whatever you've heard it called before, it's the most extensive assessment of a property's condition, structure, and potential defects. The thorough inspection is carried out by qualified and experienced Chartered Surveyors, who thoroughly examine the property's exterior and interior, including its construction, materials used, and overall maintenance.

What Properties Require a Building Survey?

Listed Buildings: These buildings hold special architectural or historic significance and are included on the Statutory List. Conducting a Building Survey is essential for understanding the condition of these unique properties and identifying any potential issues that may require preservation or specialized maintenance.

Older Properties: Properties over 50 years old often require extra attention due to their age and potential deterioration. A Building Survey is highly recommended for such properties to assess their condition, identify any structural concerns, and provide guidance on necessary repairs or maintenance.

Unconventional Construction: Buildings constructed in an unusual manner, irrespective of their age, may have unique structural or maintenance requirements.

Properties Intended for Renovation or Alteration: If you have plans to renovate or make significant changes to a property, a Building Survey is vital. It provides valuable insights into the current condition, identifies potential structural limitations, and offers guidance on executing your renovation plans successfully.

Previously Renovated or Altered Buildings: Properties that have undergone renovations or significant alterations in the past require careful examination to ensure that the work was carried out correctly and meets appropriate standards. A Building Survey can identify any potential issues or areas requiring further attention.

Why is a Building Survey Essential?

  1. Identifying Hidden Defects: Uncover any hidden defects or structural issues that may not be immediately apparent during a casual viewing. It provides a comprehensive understanding of the property's condition, enabling you to make informed decisions about its purchase.

  2. Cost Estimation: A detailed analysis of potential repair or maintenance costs associated with the property. This information helps you estimate the overall investment required to bring the property up to the desired standard and allows for negotiation or budget planning accordingly.

  3. Risk Mitigation: By highlighting any significant defects or potential problems, a Building Survey enables you to evaluate the risks associated with the property. This knowledge empowers you to decide whether to proceed with the purchase, renegotiate the price, or seek further professional advice.

  4. Future Planning: A Building Survey can provide valuable guidance if you're planning renovations or alterations to the property. It helps you understand the feasibility and potential challenges involved in your proposed plans, ensuring a smooth and successful project.

What does a Building Survey Cover?

A Building Survey is a comprehensive assessment covering various property aspects. While the specific scope may vary depending on the surveyor and the property's characteristics, it generally includes the following:

  1. Structural Integrity: The surveyor evaluates the structural stability of the property, including the walls, floors, roof, foundations, and any visible signs of subsidence or movement.

  2. Building Materials: The surveyor examines the construction materials used, their condition, and their compatibility with the property's age and style.

  3. Damp and Moisture: The surveyor identifies any signs of dampness, moisture penetration, or mould growth, which can lead to significant structural damage and health concerns if left unaddressed.

  4. Roofing: The condition of the roof covering, chimney stacks, flashings, guttering, and drainage systems is assessed to identify any leaks, damage, or potential issues.

  5. Internal and External Elements: The surveyor inspects the interior elements, including walls, floors, ceilings, doors, windows, and fixtures, as well as the exterior features, such as driveways, pathways, fences, and drainage systems.

  6. Services and Utilities: The surveyor evaluates the condition of the electrical, plumbing, and heating systems, providing insights into their functionality, safety, and potential need for repairs or upgrades.

  7. Recommendations: If further investigation is required, the surveyor will advise you on the area and issue.

If you have specific concerns about the property, you can request the inclusion of certain areas in the survey to address those concerns.

How much does a building survey cost?

The cost of a Level 3 Survey will vary depending on the property type, size and location. Speak with our team to get an exact quote for your property.

Download a Sample Report

Click the image to download a free sample report directly from RICS.

Building Survey Example Report

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