The difference between a homebuyer's report and a building survey

New build home with a happy builderIt’s one of the most common questions to crop up during the process of purchasing a property, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. Which is best, a homebuyer’s report, or a building survey? If you are purchasing the property with a mortgage, then among the list of legal jargon, prerequisites, and fees, you will find that the mortgage lender requires a valuation to be carried out.

Alongside this, you will likely find that the option of a homebuyer’s report or building survey can also be conducted on the property. Sometimes these are thrown in as part of the mortgage deal, sometimes they are not and you’ll have to pay a fee for the lender’s surveyor to be appointed, or alternatively you could appoint one independently.

A mortgage lender will usually rely on the valuation of the property to ensure their investment is financially sound, but a valuation will not tell you anything about the fabric of the building. If you want to get more information about the condition of the property, it’s wise to commission a homebuyer’s report or a building survey.

Choosing a homebuyer’s report

A homebuyer’s report is usually purchased by a buyer looking for a general review of the property, and is often the better option if you’re purchasing a relatively standard property that appears to be in reasonably good condition and is perhaps no more than 40-50 years old. The homebuyer report would see a surveyor carry out a visual inspection, before providing a detailed report listing any potential concerns with the property.

The main objectives of a homebuyer’s report are to:

  • Make an informed judgement on whether to proceed with the purchase;
  • Assess whether the agreed price of the property is reasonable or not;
  • Provide details of any urgent work or decisions that should be taken before exchange of contracts.

The property surveyor will undertake the following assessments:

  • Check the general condition of the property;
  • List any major faults that may affect the value;
  • List any urgent problems that require inspection by a specialist;
  • Test for damp in the walls;
  • Check for damage to timbers, such as woodworm or rot;
  • Check the condition of any damp-proofing, insulation and drainage;
  • Provide an estimated cost of rebuilding the property following a disaster (for insurance purposes);
  • Provide the value of the property on the open market.

Choosing a building survey

A building survey is usually purchased by a buyer looking for a comprehensive and thorough review of the property, and therefore, a survey is more expensive than the homebuyer’s report. Surveys are best for older properties (say, pre-1960) or rundown properties, unique or altered buildings such as cottages, or if there are plans for major works. The building survey provides the most detailed survey with the highest standard of visual inspection. The surveyors provide a thorough review of any current or potential defects, and they are non-invasive, meaning that the surveyor won’t be knocking holes through walls or pulling up floorboards.

Things included in a building survey:

  • The details of the construction of the property;
  • The materials that were used;
  • A list of all minor and major structural problems that may exist;

The building survey is carried out to identify:

  • Any major and minor defects and explain what they could mean;
  • The potential cost of any repairs;
  • The results of damp testing on the walls;
  • Any damage to timbers, such as woodworm or rot;
  • The condition of damp-proofing, insulation and drainage;
  • Technical information on the construction of the property and all materials used;
  • The location of the property;
  • Any recommendations for further specialist inspection.

Finding a surveyor

If you decide to appoint a surveyor independently, it’s important to choose an accredited surveyor. Personal recommendations from a person you trust is always a good way to go, but if that isn’t an option, you can use the surveyor-finder through the RICS website. RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) is the professional association of surveyors in the UK and they will provide a list of reputable, accredited RICS regulated surveyor firms based on your location.

Are you looking to purchase the perfect home in Cardiff, or looking to find your way onto the property ladder for the very first time? If so, the sales team at CPS Homes estate agents are ready to help you. Call us today on 02920 668585, email, or pop into one of our branches based in Cathays, Roath and Cardiff Bay.

23 August 2017


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