The scoop on Surveys

Back to news

What is a house survey and why is it important?

A property survey is a detailed inspection of a property to assess the condition of the building. It is carried out by a Chartered Surveyor in order to highlight any issues or defects that could affect its value or cause problems further down the line; and to confirm that the property is worth the asking price.

It’s not a legal requirement, but oftentimes considered a smart move to alleviate potential stress and financial outlay in the future especially if there are any questionable aspects of the property’s structure. 

When should they happen?

It is typically the home buyers who arrange and pay to have the survey done, once they’ve had an offer accepted by a seller. In theory you can arrange a survey at any point, provided the seller agrees to it, including before you’ve made an offer; but it’s not advised to arrange a survey prior to having your offer accepted.

How much does it cost and how do I arrange a survey?

The first thing you need to establish before reviewing costs is what type of survey you are looking for. The different types of surveys go into different levels of detail, which is reflected in the cost variances.

In addition to this, factors (including but not limited to) your new home’s value, size and location can also impact the cost of your home survey. Generally speaking, a house survey can cost anywhere between £400 and £1,500, so it’s a good idea to budget for this in the beginning.

In March 2021, the governing body known as RICS (the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) updated the categorisation of the 3 types of house surveys: 

  • Level 1 Survey (previously named ‘basic condition report’)
  • Level 2 Survey (previously named ‘HomeBuyers Report’)
  • Level 3 Survey (previously named ‘Building Survey or Full Structural Survey’)
Type of survey What do you get? Which types of property is it good for? Typical cost
Level 1 Survey (Condition Report) A basic report of visible defects and urgent issues New-build homes and standard homes in good condition and less than 50 years old £300 -£900
Level 2 Survey (HomeBuyer Report) A more detailed report on the condition of the property, any issues and repairs needed Standard homes in reasonable condition and less than 50 years old £400 – £1,000
Level 3 Survey (Building or Structural Survey) A full and comprehensive review of the property’s structure and condition, which can also include estimates of repair costs Homes older than 50 years, large or unusual properties, and those in poor condition £630 – £1,500


If you’re looking at buying a new-build property, it’s highly recommended investing (£300-£600) in a snagging survey to highlight any defects or repairs, and check the building is compliant with building regulations. When a snagging survey comes back with any problems, you can ask the developer to fix them before you exchange or complete.

You will need to contact a home surveyor, who will then visit the property to complete the survey. If you don’t have a contact, Sims Williams will be able to advise you on trusted surveyors in your local area.

Top tip: 

Choose a surveyor that’s a member of a recognised governing body, such the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

Level 1 Survey

The Home Survey Level 1 is the most basic – and cheapest – RICS survey available. It is suitable for standard modern properties and relatively new homes that appear to be in decent condition.

Level 1 home surveys give an overview of the property’s overall condition but does not go into detail. It highlights significant issues, risks, urgent defects and potential legal issues but it provides no advice or valuation. 

Level 2 Survey

A Home Survey Level 2 is the standard choice for most properties in reasonable condition, less than 50 years old. It provides more detail than Level 1 and is the most popular option, according to RICS. These surveys are ‘non-intrusive’ so the surveyor will only check what’s easily visible. 

These surveys can uncover problems that may affect the property’s value and require further investigation like subsidence and damp, as well as include all major parts of the property visible to the surveyor.

There are two types of the RICS Home Survey Level 2. You can purchase with or without a valuation. The report with a valuation will include a market value, an insurance reinstatement figure and a list of problems that the property surveyor believes could impact the value of the property. If you’re buying with a mortgage, your lender will conduct their own valuation, so you may not wish to add this option on to the Home Survey Level 2 as well. Get advice from your estate agent if you’re unsure.

Level 3 Survey

Prior to March 2021, and even today commonly referred to as a full structural survey, this is the most thorough, and most expensive, survey offered by RICS. They are particularly suitable for large or unusual homes and properties older than 50 years, and despite carrying a larger price tag, they could end up saving you thousands of pounds if you find hidden problems.

This comprehensive inspection provides homebuyers with detailed advice on the property’s condition, highlights the identifiable risk of potential or hidden defects and their probable causes, as well as recommendations and advice involving costs and timescales for required repairs.

Survey Secure!

So you committed and invested in having a property survey on your potential new home and now need to know what it means.

RICS follow a 3 tier condition rating to show their findings on each aspect of the property. The 3 condition ratings are:

Condition Rating 1 – no repair needed

Condition Rating 2 – defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered to be serious or urgent

Condition Rating 3 – defects that are serious and need to be repaired, replaced or investigated urgently


So while having a survey may cost you in the short term, it could mean you avoid facing unexpected costs in the future. 

Should the survey reveal any issues, don’t forget that you have a professional estate agent with extensive experience who is working with you, to support and guide you through the whole process – survey queries included. You do not have to make big decisions on your own. Lean on reputable professionals who deal with these occurrences daily. They will provide a clear perspective to distinguish which property concerns are major red flags or minor repair jobs based on their experience and local market knowledge. 

Be kept up to date

Leave your details with us, so we can keep you fully up to date with property updates.

What our clients say


Very good and thorough service in helping to rent out our property. Communication is excellent and nothing is ever too much bother. Constantly kept in contact along each step of renting out. Would highly recommend using this company.
Jo and Warren - Landlord - Sep 29th, 2020

Excellent Service

Brilliant Estate Agents, I sold my property and brought another through Sims Williams, John was fantastic and so helpful throughout the whole process. I would 100% recommend this Estate Agents.
Amy - Vendor - Apr 7th, 2021

Good working with Sims

Thank you Sims for navigating our purchase of our new home in Arundel. They kept on the case and were cheerful and professional throughout. Thank you.
Chris & Sarah - Buyer - Nov 25th, 2022

Outstanding Service!

We recently purchased a property through Sims Willams, throughout the process, Megan and the team were friendly, accommodating and proactive which made the experience of buying our first property a joy. We are really happy in our new home and would highly recommend them!
Mr Cooper - Purchaser - Oct 14th, 2022

Great service

I found Sims Williams to be an excellent company, providing a great service in a friendly manner making me feel very comfortable that everything was being done to get me exactly what I required.
Alan - Tenant - Feb 24th, 2022

Exceptional service

John Wyatt has been brilliant throughout. Nothing has been too much trouble and his experience and guidance have been invaluable. About as good as it gets !
Ivens - Buyer - Jun 25th, 2021


First time using their services amazing ! The whole process has gone really well.
Emmanuel - Tenant - Jan 14th, 2020

knowledgeable and efficient

I would like to say I was very happy with the service I received from Sims Williams and would highly recommend you to anyone selling, or indeed buying a property. I was always able to speak to someone in person whenever I had a query or question. The staff are all friendly, knowledgeable and efficient which made the whole process of buying and selling less stressful. Having a named professional as a primary contact was really reassuring. Calum was always aware of and managing any glitches even before I knew about them. He communicated well with my solicitor and made sure I was up to date at all times. He was also very good at explaining parts of the process I didn’t understand. I will definitely be using your team again in the future for buying, selling or renting out.
Louise - Buyer - Apr 29th, 2022


Have dealt with Sims Williams before when buying my house and it all went well. So, when it came to selling a property, I knew I'd get the same professional (but human!) service. Many thanks to the team in the Walberton branch for getting things over the line. Special thanks to Lin who is great and such a valuable asset to the process/team. Cheers.
Mr H - Vendor - Dec 10th, 2020

Highly Recommend!

My family and I can’t thank John Richards-Wyatt and his team enough for all their patience and help with the sale of our family home. From the initial meeting a year ago to the conclusion recently they have shown compassion and understanding with a very emotional sale. Thank you.
Jones Family - Vendor - Feb 6th, 2023