How will the new RICS building survey improve the homebuying process?

January 26, 2021 3:40 am


Home buying surveys are a critical part of the home buying process. A mortgage lender will insist that you have one, but you may have a choice about how detailed you want it to be.

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Whilst you might view it as an unwanted additional expense at a time when you are already paying out huge sums of money, house surveys are important. They give you vital information about issues with the property that you may not have noticed.

What is a building survey?

According to the consumer rights organisation Which, building surveyors can be accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), who previously offered three options for a survey. These were Level One (a Condition Report), Level Two (a Homebuyer Report) and Level Three (a Building Survey).

Building surveyors can also be accredited by the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA/Sava). Two surveys are offered; the Sava Home Condition Survey is very similar to the RICS Level Two report.

A Level Three RICS building survey such as that described in is more expensive because it requires more work. However, it is recommended for larger properties and for older properties that have more potential to have defects, especially if they are run down or are in a poor state of repair. They are also the best option for buildings that have had a lot of renovations or alterations or those that have unique features, such as thatched roofs that could be very expensive to maintain or repair. This type of survey is also recommended if you are planning on carrying out major structural works to the property.

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The new RICS survey explained

From March 2021, a new Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Home Survey Standard will go into effect that introduces changes to the home buying process.

The aim is to protect both buyers and sellers, and there is a focus on ensuring that they fully understand how important a home survey is and what it will tell them.

The language will be simpler and standardised so that there will be consistency and transparency across the industry. The new version will replace all the old guidance notes and will apply to all condition surveys levels. It signifies a complete overhaul but will be phased in gradually during 2021 to take account of increased demand and COVID.