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What Does a Surveyor Do?

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Had an offer accepted on a property?

Now’s the time to be working out what kind of survey you need.

If so, you might be asking yourself, ‘what does a surveyor do?

So – let’s clear this up once and for all. We explore what they look at, how it all works and how you can find a trusted one.

What is a surveyor?

A property survey looks into the condition of a particular building; anything from house subsidence to damp or mould.

Therefore, a property surveyor is the individual who puts this report together, collecting all the information you need to know before you proceed with the purchase.

This is an essential process when buying a new home, as it will ensure there are no nasty surprises lurking within.

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What do they look for?

Depending on what type of survey you choose, a surveyor will look into different issues – at varying levels of depth. As a result, each house survey has a different cost.

Condition report

This is the most basic and cheapest house survey report.

Your surveyor will:

  • Provide a ‘traffic light’ system for different issues – red for severe, green for okay
  • Summarise any defects but not provide advice
  • Not provide a valuation
  • Identify risks and legal considerations
  • Inspect all areas of the property

Homebuyers’ report

Here, your surveyor will go a little more in depth. They will:

  • Look for serious structural issues
  • Inspect problems, such as damp
  • Provide a current valuation of how much the property is worth
  • Assess the insulation and damp-proofing
  • Provide background information
  • Give details of major faults
  • Test for damp

The surveyor will give three condition ratings. One means no action is currently required, while three means that immediate action should be taken.

Building survey

This is a much more in-depth inspection into the condition of the property.

The surveyor will:

  • Inspect all visible and accessible parts of the property – including cupboards
  • Provide a detailed report and include expert advice
  • Discover and inform you of any major issues
  • Test for damp
  • Test for the presence of hazardous materials e.g. asbestos
  • Damage to timbers (e.g. woodworm) or the roof
  • Inspect large trees close to the premises
  • Recommend specialists for further inspections of the property
  • Provide specific, technical information – for example on materials used

Are there any areas of the property they can’t look at?

This depends entirely on the survey itself.

For example, while a building survey is very comprehensive, it won’t inspect any sealed roof spaces or concealed parts of the property.

Other home reports, such as a condition survey, are completely non-invasive. They also won’t provide a mortgage valuation.

What are the most common problems?

The problems that arise vary from building to building. Surveyors find issues with everything from the tiling to electricals.

Old properties can present more issues than newer ones, which is why some homeowners choose the building (also known as full structural) survey. For example, they may have more cracks in the plaster – and it would give you peace of mind to ensure they aren’t tell-tale signs of subsidence.

But, that doesn’t mean newer buildings are problem-free! Your surveyor can carry out your new building snagging list for you. Here, they’ll often pick up issues such as ill-fitting doors or windows.

What will a surveyor do in the case of a bad survey?

Your surveyor can provide you with advice for any specific issues they uncover, plus refer you to individuals who can help.

However, depending on the severity of the problems, you need to decide if you wish to continue with the purchase of the property. Home Buyers’ Protection Insurance can help ensure you don’t lose all of the money you’ve already spent.

Despite this, for some, the thought of losing the house completely is heartbreaking. Therefore, you could use your survey as a bargaining tool to help you negotiate a house price down. If the seller won’t budge, you could ask for certain fixtures and fittings to be included in the final sale.

Here, you should always seek legal advice from your solicitor. We can connect you with an experienced professional should you need – so get a free conveyancing quote below. Our experts work on a no sale no fee basis, giving you a level of security.

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Who should carry out your survey?

It’s important to note that there are variations between surveying companies, so you should look into each one thoroughly.

Here’s a brief overview of some of the factors to consider when choosing a surveyor.

Qualification standards

It’s recommended to use someone qualified by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). This is because the body upholds professional standards and has strict regulations.


You should also try and find someone local to the area you’re buying in, as they’ll have better knowledge of market values or similar properties.


Something else to consider is whether they have any particular areas of expertise. This is essential if you’re buying an unusual or unique home.

Look beyond estate agents

Don’t simply go with the first surveyor an estate agent recommends you. This might not necessarily be the best person for the job, they could simply have a partnership.

It’s important that you find the right individual for your specific needs.

Finding your surveyor

Need help finding a professional for your property-related affairs?

We can connect you with an RICS approved local surveyor who can help ensure this is the right home for you. After all, this is a large sum of money you’re considering parting with, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Getting started couldn’t be simpler, as you can get survey quotes for free below.

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Last Updated: January 25th, 2024