The Building Survey Report –what exactly is it?

The Building Survey Report –what exactly is it?

A Building Survey and Report will cost anything upwards of around £600 for a small flat, to £1,000 or £1,500 for a large house

A great deal of uncertainty surrounds the building survey report. When do you need one and when don't you need one? How much does it cost? Who should it be conducted by? Once you've got one, what does it actually mean? And what should you do with it – apart from file it away in a big box file labelled 'house purchase'?

Sally Fraser of Stacks Property Search offers her advice: “A building survey used to be known as a structural survey. It is a comprehensive inspection of all accessible elements of a property, and the report provides a detailed evaluation of the condition of the property. The report will suggest which aspects of the property may be a problem, and will point at areas of concern that might need further specialist investigation.

What the report doesn't do is provide a valuation of the property.

Building surveys are conducted by chartered surveyors who should be regulated by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The Building Survey should not be confused with a Homebuyers Report. The latter is similar to a mortgage valuation, and it may be required by any company you are using for finance for the property. The Building Survey is not required by mortgage companies, but it is, most definitely required by you!

There are very few circumstances when we wouldn't recommend a buyer gets a Building Survey report. If you're knocking down a property and starting again, it's not necessary. And if you're doing a very extensive renovation, it may also be surplus to requirements. Some people feel that it's not necessary if you're buying brand new, and you may decide to take a view, depending on who the developer is.


The Building Survey report is a very useful item. Its primary purpose is to draw attention to anything unexpected, unusual or concerning that wasn't evident when you inspected the property that might affect your decision to buy, or the price at which you buy.

But beyond that, it will provide you with a working document outlining what work needs to be done, either as a one off, or as an ongoing piece of maintenance. Remember, a building costs money to maintain to a good standard, and problems that are ignored will only get worse and cost more as time elapses.

A Building Survey and Report will cost anything upwards of around £600 for a small flat, to £1,000 or £1,500 for a large house. If you don't know who to use, ask for recommendations. Local estate agents are a good starting point. Ring them up for a chat. If your property is very large, very old, or perhaps Listed, it's sensible to find a surveyor who specialises in such properties, or has extensive experience. If timing is an issue, establish exactly when you can expect the Report. It's not unreasonable to ask for a turnaround of a week, and two weeks should be fairly standard. And ask for a quote.

Some buyers think that the Building Survey's main purpose is to find reasons to further negotiate on the price of the property. Remember, your offer is based on the property in the condition in which it's seen. So if it's clear to see that a wall is falling down, and the window frames are rotten, there's no point going back with a Report that itemises these issues, expecting a discount.

Issues that may indicate that some renegotiation is possible include things that you could not have known about or seen in the course of your viewing, that will require substantial outlay in the short term. For example, subsidence, a roof at the end of its life, unsafe building practices, or Building Regulations not complied with. Rather than jumping straight in with a tough re-negotiation, it may be more effective to ask the vendors to fix the problem prior to exchange.

 The Building Survey Report is a daunting document, generally at least 30 pages long, and full of jargon. Sometimes it's difficult to tell what's vital and relevant, and what isn't. Almost without exception, every single Building Survey Report will say “electrics need updating” as regulations go out of date on a regular basis. So some of the content will need unpicking and explaining.

Ask the Surveyor to take pictures, and choose one who is happy to talk on the phone to give you a verbal topline. Even better, meet the Surveyor on site, preferably as he's finishing the job, so he can talk you – and walk you - through the main issues.

Beyond that, start with the conclusion which will list the priorities. Then give yourself plenty of time and sit down and read the whole thing. Highlight the issues that will need attention, either immediately, or in the future. Be realistic – all houses need ongoing maintenance, and will almost always have a few problems. The older the property, the more there will be to do on a regular basis.

The Building Survey Report is your friend! Use it to help you keep your property in perfect health.”

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Latest Comments

Tom Allen
Tom Allen 20 Sep 2017

Absolutely agree with you!

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RyanGeo
RyanGeo 18 Sep 2017

A sharp correction would be a less dramatic expression to use. That is already underway in certain sectors in Reading where I practice as Chartered Surveyor

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sean benton
sean benton 01 Sep 2017

Identity theft is a thread for any profession. So,people should stay alarmed. I once take help from a letting agent and came to know that letting agents are taking every precaution to prevent fraudulent...

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Mark N.
Mark N. 30 Aug 2017

We have seen a surge in instructions over August and that should continue into September too.

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Chris
Chris 30 Aug 2017

Unfortunately, all the legislation bears its force on Landlords and ignores, naively, the effect of Rogue Tenants on the ability of landlords to keep houses in repair and offer properties for rent at reasonable...

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Christian Donovan
Christian Donovan 18 Aug 2017

The write-down on house values, combined with the fall in the GBP saddled the fund?s property portfolio with a 1.4% loss in the second quarter. The shocking amount of $240 million.

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Samantha Goodman
Samantha Goodman 11 Aug 2017

Interesting point of view.

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Samantha Goodman
Samantha Goodman 11 Aug 2017

It depends on the people, some older adults decide to make a long-distance move in order to live closer to their children or settle in a place with a lower cost of living.

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brandonlee10
brandonlee10 24 Jul 2017

The financial ramifications of the triggering of Article 50, the starting gun for Britain's departure from the EU, are far from clear. Buyers will be most cautious in London, given that buying a home in...

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IrisJ.
IrisJ. 19 Jul 2017

Great advice, but may I also add that when buying an already built home, make sure you do all of the proper inspections. Most importantly pest inspection because people tend to get surprised when they

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IrisJ.
IrisJ. 17 Jul 2017

The third point is, in my opinion, the most important one. People have become too inconsiderate and careless when it comes to rented properties. If a landlord wants to protect their property, regular visits...

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cornishalan
cornishalan 10 Jul 2017

Added to the cost of purchasing these village properties are the above average maintenance costs. Particularly where the property is a listed building or requires specialist building skills such as thatching...

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