Anderson Wilde & Harris - Providing expert home surveys in and around London

Building Surveys – The Basics

When looking to buy a new home, it is always advisable to get a survey carried out to avoid any unpleasant – and potentially costly – surprises from hidden issues the property might have. Fundamentally there are three levels of survey available.

A Level 1 survey, also called a Condition Report, is the most basic survey but provides a good, concise overview of the overall condition of the house or flat.

The Level 2 survey, called the RICS HomeBuyer Report, is more comprehensive than the Condition Report and provides a good level of information for the majority of homes, especially newer ones. The HomeBuyer Report is available with or without a Valuation. However, the inspection for the Level 2 survey will only cover areas that are visible and easily accessible.

A RICS Level 3 Building Survey is the most in-depth survey available for residential properties and is ideally suited if you are looking to buy an older property, one which has been modified or one which you are looking to make significant renovations to, especially if these are structural in nature.

What the RICS Building Survey includes

As stated above, the Building Survey, previously known as the ‘full structural survey’, is the most comprehensive survey available for residential properties.

Here’s how it works.

After you’ve decided to go ahead with our Building Survey report, we will arrange for our experienced surveyor to inspect the property. This usually takes around 24 hours.

Our RICS qualified chartered surveyor will then perform a thorough inspection of the visible and accessible parts of the property, including the roofs and chimneys, walls and floors, windows and doors, cellars and garages. The survey will not include inspection of any otherwise inaccessible areas, such as sealed roof spaces, but it does involve inspection of covered floors (within reason) and areas behind furniture which are not covered by either the Condition or HomeBuyer reports.

The Level 3 Building survey covers over 50 different points of interest, both internally and externally, and includes elements such as:

  • Checking for potentially serious defects
  • Examining the roof and supporting timbers for signs of damage
  • Investigating the property for any signs of damp
  • Identifying the materials used in the construction of the property
  • Reporting on possible presence of hazardous materials, for example asbestos
  • Pointing out any unauthorised structural work that has previously been undertaken

In addition the Building Survey will assess the garden, including looking for signs of Japanese knotweed and the potential of threat from trees neighbouring the property.

After inspection, our surveyor will write up an extensive 60-page report and email it to you within 3-5 days. This is yours to keep and could be useful for many years to come. The report will contain all the necessary information and photos on your new home so that you can make a fully informed decision.

What to do with the report

The Building Survey report will include a summary of all the possible areas of concern. Depending on your circumstances and the severity of the defect, you can then use the RICS Building Survey report in a number of way. If you are the owner of the property, the report gives you a framework which you can use to create a plan of action to address any identified defects.
Alternatively, if you are looking to buy the property, you can use the survey report to make a decision on whether you proceed with the purchase, and if you do, whether you need to renegotiate your offer to account for the cost of any remedial works that need to be undertaken.

Of course, our chartered surveyors are on hand to talk you through the report and the severity of any defects that have been identified. Drawing on their extensive experience, they will be able to offer advice on any possible next steps, or the urgency in which the defects should be addressed.

Rely on our expertise

It takes years of dedicated training to become a Surveyor.

Our team of chartered surveyors have visited thousands of properties all over London and the South East, honing their skills to spot and identify all types of problems. And they don’t work alone. Working as a team, they share knowledge, experience and skills to solve the toughest problems.

Put through their paces by the RICS every year they work under highly regarded experts in the industry, building up their knowledge of problems and solutions that can arise in any situation.

Rising damp, pitched roofs and different types of concrete – these are all essential skills they have learned to spot housing problems.

Speak to our surveying team on 0800 071 5517 or email us on