Why Property Surveys Are So Important

Here at McCallums, we know that moving house can be a costly experience. And the idea of forking out for yet another expense when the subject of a property survey comes up may seem like a difficult pill to swallow. Having your offer accepted on a house is a great feeling. However, then comes the sometimes daunting task of having the house surveyed. With some surveys being more in-depth than others you may well find it appealing to pick the cheapest survey available. But, that isn’t necessarily what is right for you or the property. In this article we discuss everything there is to know about a property survey. As well as explaining why property surveys are so important.

However, not having your property surveyed by a professional chartered property surveyor may actually lead you to have to pay out thousands of pounds in repairs unexpectedly. The survey will highlight previously hidden defects and damages to the building.

McCallums was first established in 2001, since then we’ve been providing our customers with strategic and diverse advice in regards to their properties. In that time, we completed thousands of property surveys for our happy customers in the East Anglia area. 

Why Property Surveys Are So Important: Index

  1. What is a Property Survey?
  2. The Types of Surveys
  3. What are the Benefits of a Property Survey?
  4. Importance of a Property Survey
  5. Reasons to get a Property Survey
  6. How Long Does a Survey Take?
  7. How Long Does it Take for the Report to Come Back?
  8. What is the Cost of a Property Survey?
  9. Where Can You Get a Survey From?
  10. How to Read a Property Survey
  11. To Conclude: Why Property Surveys Are So Important

What is a Property Survey?

A property survey is a process carried out by a professional chartered surveyor. It is a detailed inspection of the condition of a property. Typically they will examine the structure and condition of the house you’re buying or selling. The surveyor then inspects the property. They will also make you aware of any problems with the house.

A property survey will offer you valuable advice on a number of other factors that you may not have previously considered. Giving you firmer peace of mind that the property is ready for all life can throw at it. The survey can highlight repairs and alterations that may be needed. A surveyor can also help define the boundaries of your property. Which can help solve potential disputes with neighbours in the near future. The property survey can be carried out at any time, but is more likely you’ll use them when buying a new house or planning to do some construction. 


The Types of Surveys

Here at McCallums, we know that buying a house can be extremely stressful and expensive. So, when the idea of having a property survey comes up it might seem like a good idea to go with the cheapest option. Unfortunately, the ‘cheapest’ may not always be the right choice for you or your property. Below we’ll take a look at the different types of surveys, what they cover and how they may benefit you. 

There are three main types of surveys that can take place. The HomeBuyer Reports, Building Surveys, and Condition Reports. We will now take you through each option. As well as highlight some of the factors each type takes into consideration. 

Condition Report

This is the most basic and the cheapest type of survey that you can get. Its basic purpose is to complement the mortgage valuation. The Condition report also operates on a traffic light system, green means good, orange or amber is a cause for concern and red means serious or vital repair urgently needed. Although a condition report may give you an indication of problems in your home there typically won’t be any advice or a valuation. This usually costs around £300 or more.

HomeBuyers Report

A HomeBuyers report is the more popular choice with people across the UK, it provides a detailed survey of the building. There are two tiers of Homebuyers report. The first tier is a non-intrusive look at the building, this means they won’t lift furniture, look under floorboards, or drill any holes. The report will note any obvious signs of rot, subsidence, etc.

The second tier of HomeBuyers report is everything we’ve just been over plus an evaluation and insurance reinstatement of the property (This is basically how much you’d receive if the building was to be destroyed) 

A HomeBuyers report operates on a traffic light system and can take up to 2 hours to complete. Homebuyer reports (Lvl 2) usually start at around £400. 

Building Survey

A building survey is the most extensive and detailed report a surveyor will carry out. The surveyor will go behind walls, under floorboards, into the loft and he’ll also check between floors. Unless specified a building survey won’t include an insurance reinstatement. 

This is an excellent choice for older homes, in homes where work is either intended to be done or has just been completed. Begging the most extensive type of survey a surveyor will generally spend around 2-5 hours inspecting the building. An average building survey can cost between £500-£1300, this price would be dependent on the size of the property.

At McCallums we’ve been helping homeowners, investors, and professionals with property surveys for over 20 years. We are a proud independent firm located in East Anglia. If you require more information or would like to schedule your own property survey then feel free to contact us.

What are the Benefits of a Property Survey?

There are many benefits to a property survey. A property survey can highlight previously hidden defects and damages with the building that could save you some much-needed cash in the long run. Below are the main benefits of getting a property survey on a property you are about to purchase, or if you’re selling your home.

Aware of repairs

we all know that every penny counts and a property survey can highlight previously unseen issues that could end up costing you thousands of pounds down the line, if not properly handled. On average buyers who fail to get a survey will end up paying out £5,750 in repair costs. 


Can help you negotiate a better deal

Although having a house without any defects sounds great, knowing what the property’s problems are before your purchase and knowing the costs related to having those problems rectified could help greatly when negotiating a better deal on your home. 

Help you make an informed decision

Before you buy, it’s better to know exactly what you are buying first. As previously stated a surveyor can help uncover previously unseen defects and potential risks relating to the structural integrity of the building. These factors could inform your decision on whether or not you want to move forward with the purchase of your house or indeed if you can negotiate a better deal on the property. 

Save money in the long term

Finding defects and potential structural risks in the building early will only save you money in the long term. For most people buying a house is the single biggest purchase they are likely to make, making sure your purchase is of a good quality and can stand the test of time only makes sense. 

Picks up things that you won’t find

Having a professional chartered surveyor make a report on the potential defects that an untrained eye may well miss. Whilst small right now, that damp patch could turn into structural issues for the building or even health issues for you and your family.

Peace of mind

Paying a premium for your house is one thing, but if you were to move only to find a myriad of issues that could end up costing you thousands of pounds to fix, let’s face it that would put you in a difficult position. Although the results of your survey may not be music to your ears. Knowing what problems and defects are there before you make the biggest purchase of your life will give you peace of mind that the decision you’re making is the right one for you. 

Do you have to get a property survey?

The seller in the UK isn’t under any legal obligation to disclose any damage or defects in the building. This makes buying a house without a property survey taking place prior rather a risky move for the potential buyer to take. At McCallums we have a great team of real estate experts. They use their knowledge to provide our clients with a diverse array of advice and strategies in relation to their properties. 

We offer impartial clear and expert advice. With nearly 20 years of experience in all aspects of the construction industry. This allows us to provide the best possible service to our clients. And provide you with the confidence that your property interests are being looked after by a team of qualified and experienced professionals. 

For more information regarding the benefits of a property survey to schedule a property survey today then click here.

Importance of a Property Survey

Moving house can be a costly experience and the idea of forking out for yet another expense when the subject of a property survey comes up may seem like a difficult pill to swallow. 

However, not having your property surveyed by a professional chartered property surveyor may actually lead you to have to shell out thousands of pounds to repair a problem you didn’t even know existed. Below we will outline the importance of a property survey and highlight the reasons you should get a property survey today if you’re planning on moving home. 

A property survey will explore the house to discover any potential defects, floors, or potential risks to the structural integrity of the building. It can also be used to negotiate the price of the property. 

This is achieved by bartering the amount of potential money it would cost in repairs to the building against the asking price of the house. In many cases, where a property survey hasn’t been correctly carried out, subsequent work on repairs will cost upwards of £5,000. 

The person who is attempting to purchase the property is responsible for organising the survey if they wish to have one carried out. 

So, now we have a basic understanding of the importance of having a property survey completed by a professional. How knowing about any potential defects or condition issues before you decide to take the plunge on the biggest purchase of your life, could save you money, help you negotiate a better deal, or even sway you away from a bad decision.


Reasons to get a Property Survey

Now we’ve explained why property surveys are so important, we’re going to go over reasons why you should get a survey if you’re buying a property. Simply put, we highly recommended getting a property survey as it can help identify underlying issues of the property that you won’t of picked up on with a quick look around. An in-depth survey will save you money in the long run.

A lifelong investment

For most people buying a house is likely the biggest investment they’re ever going to make. Indeed this may well be the home you decide to leave to your future generations of your family to come. A small investment in a home survey will either give you peace of mind that your home is one that will stand the test of time or alternatively show you where the work needs to be done. 

A better deal

In an ideal world, your home wouldn’t have any issues. But, knowing those issues exist before you purchase can help you negotiate a better deal for the house. Not only that but, that information may well inform your decision on whether or not you wish to proceed with the purchase of the building. Not only that but a study was done by the Royal Institution of chartered surveyors shows that around 20% of buyers who did not have a survey done ended up paying £5,750 on average to repair defects in the homes they purchased. 

Although finding a defect in your new home isn’t the most ideal situation, having prior knowledge of such an issue could help you negotiate a better deal on the house, or alternatively, you can ask the seller to repair these problems before you buy the property and provide warranties and certificates where possible.

Unseen problems

The average home buyer will only have visited the property twice and have spent only around 38 minutes in the property before deciding to make their purchase. So, to say you won’t have had time to see every nook and cranny of the property would probably be an understatement. A chartered surveyor will spend multiple hours in the house, investigating the property objectively. 

My mate says it’s fine

We’ve all got that one mate who has done a bit of building work and he’s offered to take a look, I’m sure that will be fine right? Unfortunately, unless your mate has had the five years of training it takes to become a chartered surveyor and your mate probably isn’t trained in forensic building investigations, the causes of subsidence, dry rot, wet rot, and other potential risks that could befall your home. A chartered surveyor knows what they’re looking for and unlike your mate, a chartered surveyor will give you an honest, objective evaluation of the house you wish to purchase. 

Know your boundaries

A survey can let you know exactly where the boundary lines are for your property. Which, right now may not seem that important to you, but moving into the future and you want to make alterations to your home could help avoid any unwanted disputes with your neighbors. This can help with the construction of fences, driveways, and extensions to your house.

A valuation doesn’t protect you

Many people confuse a valuation for a property survey and that could be quite a costly mistake. Valuations only provide a mortgage lender with the price that the property is worth and doesn’t comment on the condition of the building. A detailed survey can tell you what repairs need to be done as well as the timeframe and cost of the work that needs to be carried out.

Out of pocket

Most people will spend less than 2 hours in their new home before deciding to ‘pull the trigger’ this is hardly enough time for every nook and cranny to be investigated and even if you did have the time you probably wouldn’t know what you were looking for, right? Potentially a small problem when you moved in could turn into a massive disaster 6 months down the line! Having a survey on average saves buyers £5,750 in potential repair costs alone!

Informed decision

The main purpose of a survey is so that the purchaser knows exactly what condition the building is in. Helping them decide whether or not they what to make the purchase, negotiate a deal or just ensure the building is prepared to stand the test of time. Whatever the result, at Mccallums we believe it’s only right that you should make an informed decision! And frankly, the information that you can get from a survey as a potential home buyer is invaluable.

How Long Does a Survey Take?

There are three main types of property you can have done. Each type or tier of the survey has a differing level of complexity when it comes to the inspection of a property’s condition. 

Below we’ll take through each type of survey, give you a brief description of what you can expect from each and how long each will take. 


Condition Report

As the Condition Report is not very in-depth and doesn’t cover a lot, the survey doesn’t take long and that is reflected in the low cost. And the short amount of time it takes to complete the survey.

Time Taken – A condition report usually takes from 1-2 hours. 

Homebuyers Report

The Homebuyers Report will provide more details about any potential faults or hazards your home may have. A Homebuyers Report can also highlight how much time and money condition issues in the home may take to be repaired. Although this is a more detailed inspection than the condition report the surveyor will not move any furniture, drill holes or look between walls or floors. 

A Homebuyers Report can also have a valuation of the property added to it, this can be used to determine the value of the property in the event that the worst happens to your home. 

Time Taken – A HomeBuyers Report can take from 2-4 hours, depending on the size of the home. 

Building Survey

A Building Survey is the most detailed and extensive inspection a surveyor can make, they’ll look between the floors, in the loft, and between the floors. In the end, a full report will be given, however, unless specified a full building survey will not include an insurance reinstatement or a market valuation. 

Time Taken – Depending on the size of the building a full building survey can take 8-10 hours. 

For more details about property surveys, click here.

How Long Does it Take for the Report to Come Back?

Once you’ve had your survey done it will take some time for the report to be written up, although, nothing in life is certain these are the average time it can take to receive the results from your survey. 

Again just like the actual type of survey you choose will impact how long your survey report takes to be written up. On average a building survey can run to around 15,000 words which will include diagrams, understand these can’t be made overnight. A building survey on average will take 5 working days or longer to be received. 

What is the Cost of a Property Survey?

When looking at the details of a property survey obviously cost is one of the biggest factors you may well consider before requesting to have a survey done on a property. However, the cheapest option isn’t always the best one for you or your property. Although a condition report is the cheapest option it won’t tell you if you have serious defects or structural problems with the building that a more detailed report could. Taking into consideration these factors we’ve compiled a list of the sort of prices you may expect to see when purchasing a survey for your property. 

The more in-depth the report, the more likely things that are wrong with the property are going to be picked up. This will in turn in the long run save you money on repairs that are needed for the property if you know about them. You can fix any damages or repairs before they become a larger issue and end up costing you lots more.

Type of Report  Average Cost
Condition Report  Around £300
Homebuyers Report  Starting around £400
Building survey  £500-£1300

Do I Need a Survey?

Whilst there isn’t any legal obligation to have a survey done, they can help highlight any potentially costly problems that you will not have seen. Most people when buying a new home will not visit the property or spend over an hour in the building before they decide the property is their ‘dream home’ in contrast a survey can take multiple hours and a surveyor can check for signs of potential issues, you may not know they exist. And although pricey, a survey can help save you thousands of pounds in wasted money on repairs. 

We recommend that you get a survey if you are purchasing a property. As explained above the survey can help identify any issues with the property you are about to purchase. This is beneficial if you are wanting to move into the property as soon as you purchase it, so you can start living there right away.

Where Can You Get a Survey From?

You will want to carry out research into property surveyors in your local area or the area the property is located in. We recommend contacting three different companies and obtaining a quotation from them for the property survey you require. Remember to do your research into each company and check their previous reviews from customers. You want to choose a company that is reliable and also has experience in carrying out surveys in different types of properties.

Different surveyors will charge different fees for a survey. This makes it easy to simply choose the cheapest company to complete the survey. However, as we mentioned above you should carry out your research as cheap doesn’t always mean good.

McCallums: Your Local Chartered Surveyor

At McCallums we have over 25 years of experience in the construction sector, delivering comprehensive and bespoke chartered surveying services to our customers across East Anglia. We offer all ranges and types of surveys so no matter the size of the property we have a survey that’s right for you and your property. If you are not sure which level of survey you think will suit your property, feel free to get in touch with us. We can advise on the level of survey that we think is suitable for the type of property. 

As explained above, there are many factors that are going to be factored into the level of survey we suggest for you. Including the age of the property, the size of the property, and how much you want to spend on a survey.

RICS Member

It is always recommended that you use a RICS regulated surveyor to carry out your property survey. RICS stands for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. To be registered with the RICS, the surveyor must adhere to a strict code of conduct. The RICS is a professional body that promotes and enforces the highest standards in terms of valuation, management, development of land, and much more.

To become a member of the RICS, you must complete a RICS accredited undergraduate degree or postgraduate degree. Meaning that a surveyor who is part of the RICS is qualified and puts your mind at rest that you are getting the best service possible.

How to Read a Property Survey

Although we’ve got lots of experience writing and reading property surveys, we can understand how reading a property survey may be rather confusing for a first-time reader. If this is your first time getting a property survey and reading it, you may be confused by what is shown on the report. 

A quick overview of the different property surveys that are available for a property.

Report  Type of property  Price What it covers 
Condition Report Good condition/New homes Around £300 A basic overview of the condition of the building. Provides a Traffic light system as a representation of the condition of the building.
Homebuyers Report Standard properties in a fair condition Starts around £400 More detail provided than a condition report there are also options to add a survey and valuation of this type of report.
Full Building Report Properties that are in poor condition, larger or older and unusual buildings too. From around £500-£1300 The most in-depth type of survey you can have. This will highlight defects with the building, provide a full written report with images, and will basically include all the information you could ever wish to know about your building.

The Traffic Light System

Above we briefly mentioned the traffic light system that allows you to see the condition of your property at a glance of an eye. To save confusion we’ve briefly outlined what each colour means in terms of the traffic light system.

Red – As you may expect red means serious defects are wrong with the building and they need urgent repair.

Orange – Repair work will likely be needed in the near future but, currently isn’t serious or urgent. Repairs may still be needed.

Green – No repairs are currently needed and the building is in general condition.

When you get your property report back, you will see one of the colours on the report. It all depends on the condition your property is in and how many repairs need to be carried out on it. Just because your property is newer, doesn’t mean that you are going to get a green report back. There might be some underlying issues that have been picked up during the survey. However, knowing about the issues within the property allows you to repair them if needed.

5 Tips On How To Read A Property Survey

When it comes to the other common elements that you may come across in a property survey may well seem quite overwhelming. At McCallums we believe it’s important that our customers have all the information when it comes to how to read a property survey. We will explain the report to you at the time we hand it over. However, if you wish to look at it in more depth after this, you will need to understand it. So, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 Tips to help you understand how to read a property survey.


1. Orientate Yourself

The first steps consists of 2 parts. An illustration and write up. The property survey will tell you everything you need to know about your property. The illustration is in short a detailed map of your property and boundary lines. A map may well include other information about the property such as walls, borders, structures, and utility constructions. There will usually be a compass on the map this helps you indicate which direction is north. Northmost commonly refers to magnetic north unless specifically stated on the survey.
The write up will be a description of the survey and any issues that are found. It will also indicate using the traffic light system the condition of the property. You will see either red, orange, or green. You can use our description of the traffic light system to help you identify the level of repairs that need to be carried out on the property.

2. Find The Legend

The Legend is usually located in the top corner of the property surveys illustration. It’ll indicate what important attributes the property has with icons to help you understand what you’re looking at in the illustration. Although, all the information may be presented to you in either the illustration and the write up a surveyor can be contacted to help clarify any elements that are unclear in the survey.

The Legend can highlight many elements of a property and the land surrounding it. Here is a list of some of the more common ones you may come across when learning how to read a property survey.

  • Water Structures (Lakes and Streams)
  • Roads
  • Close Driveways
  • Points of Entry
  • Identification of Utilities (Gas, electrical wires, water pipes etc)

3. Surveyors Certificate

The surveyor’s certificate is a signed and dated embossed seal that comes with the survey. The certificate is the legal foundation of the survey’s validity. If the certificate is not present the survey cannot provide you with any legal protection if you’re in a legal dispute. Ensuring that your seal is present validates your certificate and makes it a legal document.

4. Know Your Boundaries

Property Boundaries are usually written in bearing and distance. The Bearing pertains to a series of degrees, minutes, and seconds with compass letters before each element. And the distance refers to how far away from the given point the boundary line extends.

5. Other Information

Other information about the property and the surrounding area may well be present on the document. Factors such as previous ownership and land being surveyed or close by properties can all make their way on to a property survey.

To Conclude: Why Property Surveys Are So Important

We hope that is article has helped you understand why property surveys are so important. Throughout we have discussed the different types of surveys that are available as well as the associated costs. You might have a different reason to what we discussed in the article as to why you are getting a survey. But, whatever the reason, we are glad you have decided to invest in one.

We always suggest a survey to our customers that we think could benefit from one. On the other hand, we would never suggest getting one if we thought it wasn’t needed.

At McCallums we’ve been helping homeowners, investors, and professionals with property surveys for over 20 years. We are a proud independent firm located in East Anglia. We offer impartial clear and expert advice. This allows us to provide the best possible service to our clients. And provide you with the confidence that your property interests are being looked after by a team of qualified and experienced professionals.

If you have any questions or wish to speak to a member of the team, you can contact us here.