Home buyer and building surveys

Find and compare house surveys with Optimus

  • Nationwide network of RICS surveyors

  • Immediate up-front quotes

  • Competitive fees

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Whether you’re buying your first flat, your dream house, or your fifth investment property, a survey is the best way to check it’s structurally sound. However it can be confusing trying to decide which type of survey you need.

MoneySuperMarket has partnered with property survey expert Optimus to offer you access to its panel of more than 200 chartered surveyors – so you can find the right survey at the right price.

A valuation is a basic check, carried out on behalf of a mortgage lender or a cash buyer to ensure the property is worth the money being paid for it. If you are buying a property it is important you do not rely solely on the valuation, you should also instruct a survey on your own behalf.

A survey is something you can have done to give you an idea of the structural safety and value of a property you want to buy. There are two types of survey you can get for a potential home: A homebuyer report and a valuation survey.

Ascertaining the market value will help you get a mortgage. But when you buy a property, it’s your responsibility to ensure it is structurally sound. Booking a homebuyer survey or Building Survey by a qualified Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) surveyor is the best way to spot any unforeseen problems. If it does reveal issues, you can also use the information to negotiate a lower purchase price.

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Home survey illustration

There are three main levels of house surveys available: 

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The RICS Condition Report

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The RICS Homebuyer Report

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The RICS Building Survey

The Condition Report identifies any urgent defects. However, it doesn’t provide a market valuation or an insurance rebuild cost, which is why many buyers opt for a Homebuyer Report or a Building Survey.

A Homebuyer Report highlights any major problems, while a Building Survey provides more detailed analysis and advice about next steps. Which one is right for you will usually depend on the age, location, and type of property you are considering buying.

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An easy to understand traffic light condition rating system

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Details about any urgent or significant repairs that may be required

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Details about problems that could affect the property value

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A detailed report on the construction and condition of the property

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Advice on repairs, on-going maintenance, and issues that may affect the property value

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Clear information about areas that require urgent attention

A Homebuyer Report is sufficient for most modern homes built to typical construction standards, as long as there are no obvious issues. But if you’re buying a property that is more than 150 years old, or has been significantly altered, a Building Survey that offers greater insight is a better choice.

As a property purchase is such a big financial transaction, some people also opt for a Building Survey as a form of protection. Sellers are under no obligation to mention any structural problems, even if they are aware of them, so a full Building Survey is the best way to ensure there are no nasty surprises after the contracts have been signed.

What type of home survey is right for me? Homebuyer Report Building Survey
I’m buying a standard construction property  yes no
I’d like a user-friendly traffic light rating yes no
I’m buying a property that’s more than 150 years old no yes
I’m buying a property that’s been significantly altered no yes
I plan to significantly alter the property once it’s mine no yes
I want advice on repairs and maintenance required yes yes
I want a key risks report yes yes
I want to know about issues that affect the value yes yes
I want details of problems that need urgent attention yes no
I want a rebuild value for insurance purposes yes no
I want an in-depth inspection no yes
I want a comprehensive structural report no yes
I want a description of the defects uncovered no yes
I want professional advice on repair options no yes

It’s easy to find and compare home surveys with MoneySuperMarket’s partner Optimus. Simply answer a few questions about yourself and the property you’re hoping to buy, and Optimus will be able to provide you with a quote.

If you are happy with the price, then all you have to do is book the Survey, and Optimus will contact you to arrange an appointment for the property survey to take place, making sure that you get a Surveyor that can work around your schedule, so you can find out everything you need to know about your potential new home.

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MoneySuperMarket has partnered with Optimus to help you find the right home buyers’ survey by providing access to Optimus’ panel of more than 300 RICS surveyors. 

You’ll have to give Optimus a few details about your planned purchase to allow it to quote you for the survey – this way they can give you an accurate fee instantly, rather than an estimate. 

They offer a fixed-price guarantee on all survey types, regardless of location or property type – and there are no hidden fees.

You can contact Optimus here, send them an email at moneysupermarket@optimus-move.co.uk, or call on 0117 933 9471.

Is it worth getting a home buyer report?

It’s your responsibility to check for structural risks and problems when you buy a house or flat. By going ahead without a survey, you could therefore find yourself with a property that needs extensive repairs or can’t be sold on for anything like the amount you paid for it.

If a survey does reveal the property needs work, you may also be able to negotiate a better price. The same is true if the survey suggests a lower market value than the price you’ve agreed, so getting a survey can save you money on the purchase – as well as in the future.

What’s the difference between a survey and a mortgage valuation?

The Mortgage Valuation is for the lenders benefit and doesn’t provide any details regarding the condition of the property – you may not even get to see a copy of the report.

When you appoint a RICS-regulated surveyor to provide you with a full and thorough survey, you can relax knowing you have a full understanding of the condition of the property before you sign on the dotted line.

Do you need a survey to sell your house?

No, identifying any problems with a property is the buyer’s responsibility, so you don’t have to get a survey to sell your house. You may, however, wish to get a survey done to reassure potential buyers – for example, if it’s a very old property or you’re close to a flood risk area. 

When selling your home, you also have to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating the energy efficiency of the property with a letter between A and G. 

What is checked on a home buyers’ report?

When you book a RICS Homebuyer Report, the surveyor will check all major indoor features including ceilings, walls, and bathrooms, as well as exterior features such as roofing, pipes, gutters, walls, windows, and doors. Problems they will look out for include leaks, subsidence, and rising damp.

You’ll also receive background information on the property and location, an estimated rebuild cost you can use for insurance purposes, and an assessment of the damp-proofing, drainage, and insulation (but not the drains themselves).

How do surveyors check for damp?

Surveyors use a special damp, or moisture, meter to check walls for rising damp. They also check for signs of damp such as stains, rotting floorboards, and peeling paint, which can be caused by leaking pipes, accidental floods, or insufficient ventilation.

Does a house survey check windows?

Yes, both Homebuyer Reports and Building Surveys involve window checks, including whether or not the windows are double glazed. Most surveyors will also want to open the windows so they can check for damaged timber, and make sure the keys are not missing. 

Will a surveyor go in the loft?

Yes, surveyors will check the loft because it’s often the easiest place to spot potential problems such as a leaky roof or insufficient insulation. If you’ve had your loft converted, they’ll also want to check the quality of the work. If you’re planning to convert the loft space after buying a property, a surveyor can also tell you whether or not this is possible.

Will a surveyor go in the loft?

Yes, surveyors will check the loft because it’s often the easiest place to spot potential problems such as a leaky roof or insufficient insulation. If you’ve had your loft converted, they’ll also want to check the quality of the work. If you’re planning to convert the loft space after buying a property, a surveyor can also tell you whether or not this is possible.

How much is a full survey on a home in the UK?

The cost of a full Building Survey depends on the property being surveyed, but prices start at around £600. A Homebuyer Report is generally a cheaper option at around £345 +VAT according to Optimus – although its cost will also depend on the size and value of the house or flat in question. Either way, you can find a better deal by shopping around.

If you have to pay for your mortgage lender’s valuation survey, the average cost is around £250. A basic Condition Report, meanwhile, costs from £300.

Consider the type of property you want to buy

Choose the type of survey you need based on the condition of the property, not on the cost of the survey. Optimus can provide you with any survey type.

Use a qualified surveyor

Choosing a RICS-regulated surveyor has a number of benefits, including that RICS surveyors are required to have insurance to protect you should anything be missed. All the Surveyors used by Optimus are RICS-qualified.

Highlight your own concerns

If you’re worried about the roof, for example, it’s worth mentioning this to the surveyor checking the property.

Negotiate the purchase price

If your home survey shows up problems with the property, you can use this information to renegotiate the purchase price. Alternatively, ask the seller to have the work done before you buy.

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We commit to providing you with clear and informative answers on all points such as this, so we have gathered the relevant information on this page.

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