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What you should know about surveys

Kieran Witt, 26 July 2023

What’s this article about?

In this Ask an Expert session, we cover all things surveying and are joined by Ross Jarvie, a Chartered Surveyor and director of DWPS Chartered Surveyors

About our expert

This month we invited Ross Jarvie, a qualified Chartered Surveyor and director of DWPS Chartered Surveyors, to join us at the Kotini coffee table to help our home-buying community learn about surveys. Ross has been involved in property for nearly 25 years, having first worked as an estate agent. He qualified as a Surveyor in 2006 and has completed thousands of surveys in his career.

What we covered

What is a survey?

A survey is a detailed inspection and report that provides an overview of the condition of a property and the effect of that condition on its value. It's like an MOT for a house, providing a third-party independent overview.

Mortgage valuation vs. survey

A mortgage valuation is a risk assessment for the lender, determining if the property is worth the amount being lent. It doesn't provide a detailed condition report like a survey does. A survey however is a report for you, the buyer, that'll inform you of any issues.

Types of surveys

There are three levels of surveys. Level 1 is equivalent to a mortgage valuation, Level 2 (most common) provides a good overview of the property's condition, and Level 3 is a detailed building survey suitable for non-standard constructions, very old properties, or properties in poor condition. Read more about the different types of surveys here.

Cost and duration of surveys

The cost varies, but generally, a Level 2 survey might start from £350, and a Level 3 survey from £750. The duration of the survey also varies, with a Level 2 survey typically taking a couple of hours and a Level 3 survey taking four hours or more. The report is usually delivered within five working days.

Common issues found in surveys

Common issues include dampness, electrical issues, asbestos, and structural movement. Other topical issues include spray foam insulation and Japanese knotweed.

Choosing a surveyor

It's important to speak to the surveyor before they go out. Ensure that the firm you're appointing is the one carrying out the report. Look for local firms and ask for recommendations. Ensure that the surveyor is a member of RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors).

Role of a surveyor

Surveyors provide advice and guidance on the back of the survey if there are any findings. They can help interpret information and provide additional advice on issues like leasehold lengths, service charges, and title deeds.