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Full Building Survey vs. Home Buyer Report

At Aldrock we are asked to quote for the above surveys on a daily basis and quite often there seems to be confusion about what the client wants. This short blog will hopefully help to explain the differences. The following are extracts from the RICS guidance notes for surveys of residential property:

Measurement tool

Full Building Survey

This level of service consists of a detailed visual inspection of the building, its services and the grounds that is more extensive than level two. The surveyor may inspect concealed areas not normally opened or used by the occupiers (where it is safe and appropriate to do so and the owner/occupier has given permission). Although the services are not tested, they are observed in normal operation – in other words, they are switched on and/or operated.

The report objectively describes the form of construction and materials used for different parts of the property. It describes the condition and provides an assessment of the relative importance of the defects/problems. Additionally, it should:

  • describe the identifiable risk of potential or hidden defects in areas not inspected
  • propose the most probable cause(s) of the defects based on the inspection
  • outline the likely scope of any appropriate remedial work and explain the likely consequences of non-repair
  • make general recommendations in respect of the priority and likely timescale for necessary work
  • identify and describe the legal implications of ownership in detail; and
  • give an indication of likely costs (this aspect would normally form part of the level three service, but some surveyors may choose to omit it. The T&Cs must make this choice clear).

Where a surveyor feels unable to reach the necessary conclusions with reasonable confidence, they should refer the matter for further investigations. However, at level three such referrals should be the exception rather than the rule. A level three report should aim to provide the client with all the information they need to make a purchase decision.

This level of service will suit any domestic residential property in any condition depending on the competence and experience of the practitioner.”

HomeBuyer Report

The report objectively describes the condition of the different elements and provides an assessment of the relative importance of the defects/problems. At this level, although it is concise, the report does include advice about repairs and any ongoing maintenance issues. Where the surveyor is unable to reach a conclusion with reasonable confidence, a recommendation for further investigations may be necessary.

This level of service suits a broader range of conventionally built properties, although the age and type will depend on the knowledge and experience of the surveyor. This level of service is unlikely to suit:

  • complex buildings, for example those that have been extensively extended and altered
  • unique or older historic properties – although level two services may be appropriate for some older buildings, the decision will depend on the surveyor’s proven competence and the nature of the building itself. For example, a level two report on homes with traditional timber frames or those built much before 1850 is likely to be inconclusive and be of little use to the client
  • properties in poor condition; or
  • those where the client is planning to carry out extensive repair and refurbishment work.

In such cases, a level two service will often result in numerous referrals for further investigations: an outcome that many clients find disappointing.”

Our advice to clients is to opt for one of our customised full building surveys especially if the property is 30 years or older. This can prove to be a very useful negotiating tool prior to purchase. It also reduces the need for further investigation. However a HomeBuyer report can be more suited and more cost effective when looking at a newer property.

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Blueprints and measurement tools
  • 17th December 2014