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The Different Types of Property Surveys

Great news! You've had an offer accepted on a property. Part of the process in securing a mortgage is to have a property survey carried out. But with so many available, how do you know which one to choose?

Here at Mortgages Online, clients often ask us what a property survey is, why they are necessary and what different types of surveys are available. This article will help clarify and answer any questions you might have on this topic.

What is a property survey?

A property survey is a survey undertaken on a property to explore and document any immediate issues or problems that might cause damage further down the line.

There are different types of property surveys available. Make sure you have carefully read the information below before considering which land survey is right for you. Your Mortgages Online advisor will also be able to provide guidance on which survey is most suitable for your circumstance.

Why do I need to get a property survey done when I buy a house?

Having a property survey done when buying a new home is really important. While it may not explore every aspect of the building, its purpose is to provide a report about any problems that may impact the value of the property, and need further investigation.

Naturally, receiving this report will be vital in deciding whether or not you choose to proceed with the property purchase so it’s important to ensure the correct survey is chosen. 

What different types of property surveys are available?

There are four main types of property surveys you should consider before purchasing a property. Below, we highlight what to expect from each one.

RICS Condition Report

The RICS Condition Report is used to describe the condition of the property. It reports on any urgent defects and identifies potential risks and legal issues that may arise.

Mostly used for new-build and residential homes in good condition, an RICS Condition Report does not provide a valuation or offer advice.

When you receive your report, don’t expect it to be detailed. It is designed to complement the mortgage valuation, but it will also provide you with a summary of the property’s defects and possible risks affecting the home. It will provide you with ‘traffic light’ indications as to the state of the property drawing your attention to specific areas if required. Green shows that everything is ok, orange indicates some cause for concern and red means repairs are vital.

A Condition Report is the most basic survey you can get; therefore, it is the cheapest. Expect to pay around £250 or more.

RICS HomeBuyer Report

A HomeBuyer Report is a property survey suitable for standard properties in reasonable condition. It will identify obvious and structural problems, for example subsidence or damp, but it is non-intrusive so won’t look at what might be hiding beneath the surface, for example, any electrical wiring issues underneath floorboards or behind walls.

With some HomeBuyers’ reports, a property valuation may be included. If that’s the case and the property is valued lower than the mortgage lender’s valuation, you may be able to revise your offer saving you money in the long run. Similarly, if the report states that the property is in need of some repair, you could use the report’s suggestions to renegotiate the price.

The cost of a HomeBuyers Survey starts at around £400 on average.

RICS Building Survey

A RICS Building Survey provides an in-depth level of inspection, similar to a building survey, but it has a simpler, clearer presentation style. Using a 1, 2, 3 rating system, serious issues can be easily identified. Mostly, RICS Building Surveys are undertaken on larger or older properties, or if you’re planning major works.

This comprehensive report will provide you with a thorough analysis of the property’s condition. It will highlight a range of issues and will advise on defects, repairs and the maintenance required. Included in a RICS Building Survey are advice sheets on how to manage some of the problems that have been found. For example, repair options to consider and what the consequences would be if the potential issues were left unattended.

A RICS Building Survey is a little more expensive than some of the other options. The typical cost is around £400-£500.

Building or Full Structural Survey

A Building, or Full Structural Survey, is the most detailed survey you can carry out on a property. While it is suitable for all residential properties, it is extremely good for older homes or homes in need of repairs.

As the name suggests, this type of survey is extensive and can be worth the cost if you have some concerns about the property. However, it’s important to note that, similarly to the other types, a Building or Full Structural Survey does not usually include a valuation either. Neither will it explore under floorboards or behind walls, but it is more likely to include the surveyor’s opinion on what might be potentially lurking in these areas.

Due to the in-depth nature of this survey, a Building or Full Structural Survey will typically cost upwards of £600 but should provide detailed advice on repairs.

What should I do if the survey uncovers some problems?

If your land survey uncovers some issues, don’t panic! A surveyor’s report nearly always uncovers some problems, especially with older homes.

The most common problems you may need to investigate after a survey is completed include:

  • Electrical installation
  • Central heating system
  • Problems with the roof
  • Damp and timber issues
  • Complications that will need a structural engineer

If you do uncover problems, useful actions to carry out include:

  • Find out whether the problems (for example poor damp-proofing) are covered by a guarantee
  • Ask the surveyor for their professional opinion as to how much it may cost to sort out any problems
  • For more major works, a builder will be able to provide you with a quote
  • Once collected, you can use these estimates to renegotiate the purchase price, or ask the seller to fix the issues before you complete the sale

Remember it’s not just the cost you need to consider, but also the amount of upheaval that the repair work might cause. Don’t forget, you haven’t committed to the property purchase at this point. If it all seems too much, you can still walk away.

What is the difference between a Mortgage Valuation Report and a property survey?

We’re often asked what the main difference is between a Mortgage Valuation Report and a property survey. In short, a mortgage valuation is not a property survey.

A Mortgage Valuation Report is just a token look at your new property to assess how much it is worth. It will not identify repairs or structural problems that you will need to fix, which is why you will need to have a house survey carried out also.

It’s required by your mortgage lender, in addition to your house survey, to satisfy the lender that your new property is sufficient security for the mortgage. Your lender will also insist on using a company they trust and you will be required to pay for it. The cost of a Mortgage Valuation Report will vary depending on the size of the property, but you can expect it to start from around £350.

Some lenders may choose to throw in a free property valuation as part of a mortgage deal but don’t let that sway your decision! A mortgage agreement with a lower interest rate is more likely to save you money over time, even if that requires you to have to pay a little more upfront for the mortgage valuation.

Where can I find a good property surveyor near me?

One of the most important things to look for in a good land surveyor is MRICS or FRICS after their name. This will show you that they are a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the governing body for management and development of land, real estate, construction and infrastructure.

At Mortgages Online, we are experienced advisors who can point you in the right direction for a good property surveyor. Over the years, we’ve built up trusted partners that we can suggest to clients. Contact us via email on or give us a call on 03300 58 60 58.


Andrew Montlake

As Managing Director, Andrew looks after the strategic goals that drive the vision and culture of the company, maintaining and promoting our Brand, Marketing, PR & Communications, as well as looking after our Corporate, Introducer, and Lender relationships.

He is the author of a highly acclaimed Mortgage Blog and host of our successful Mortgage & Property Podcasts and he has also won 8 major industry awards; Best Press Spokesperson (twice), Best Marketeer (twice), Mortgage Personality of the Year (twice), Mortgage Strategist of the Year and most recently Best Business Leader Broker (11-50 brokers).

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