surveying london

Building Survey or Condition Report?

We were approached by a client recently who was about to take on the lease of a building for the purposes of running a charity. They needed an assessment done of the building to give them peace of mind before committing to the purchase, however were unsure whether it would be more appropriate to get a Building Survey (formally known as a Structural Survey), or a Condition Report. So in order to help you decide what type of survey you need of your property, I thought I would write this short post to give you some guidance on the kinds of questions you should be asking yourself when deciding on what the most appropriate level of survey would be for your property.

The different survey types

Building Survey

What is it?

A building survey is the most comprehensive survey you can have of a property and will include a detailed review of all accessible areas of the property. The information will include a description of the element, a statement about its condition, and advise on any remedial actions required in order to bring it to good working order. The report can also include a valuation for the property.

When is a Building Survey the best option?

A full building survey is the most appropriate option when the building is old, or where it has been modified extensively, for example, where extensions have been added. It is not usually necessary to get a full building survey on a new build property, or generally of most buildings constructed within the last 20 years, however if there is any cause to believe that there may be a defects, a building survey may still be an appropriate option.

Homebuyer’s Report

What is it?

The RICS Homebuyer’s Report is a standard formatted report prepared by a surveyor which includes a brief description of each element and a traffic light system to identify the condition of the element.

When is a Building Survey the best option?

The Homebuyer’s Report is most appropriate for simply buildings with few modifications, which is relatively new and not likely to contain any significant defects. The information provided by the report is limited, but it will bring to your attention any glaring issues that need to be addressed. It will also include a valuation of the property.

A Homebuyer’s Report is not appropriate for old buildings, for example Victorian houses, as it does not provide a significant enough review of the property.

Condition Report

What is it?

A condition report is exactly what it says; a review of the property and a brief report on any defective issues usually accompanied by photographs. The report is much less in-depth than a full building survey, and will not include a valuation, nor a information regarding legal matters and the like, which would ordinarily be included in a building survey.

When is a Building Survey the best option?

A Condition Report is appropriate on new buildings where the likelihood of significant defects is small. It is appropriate where the building has not been significantly modified, and where you want to get an idea of if there are any defects.


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