Do I Need a Survey When Buying A House?

After having an offer accepted on a property it’s common practice to have a survey conducted to assess the condition of the property.

21st December, 2021

Updated 30/08/2023

After having an offer accepted on a property it’s common practice to have a survey conducted to assess the condition of the property. In this guide we’ll discuss what a survey is and how it differs from a mortgage valuation; who can legally do a survey; what the different types of survey are; and whether you really need a survey. Read on to find out more!

What is a survey? 

A survey is a detailed inspection and report on a property’s condition. A survey provides information about structural problems (such as subsidence), highlights any major repairs that may be needed, and provides commentary on the build quality and specification of the property. 

The property survey is usually arranged and paid for by the buyer of the property. This typically takes place after their offer has been accepted and runs concurrently with the conveyancing process. There are a number of different types of survey that can be ordered, and we’ll detail the difference between each in this guide. Having surveys conducted is recommended in some instances, but can influence how long it takes to sell a house


What is a mortgage valuation? 

A mortgage valuation is different to a survey. Mortgage valuations assess the value of the property to ensure that it is enough security for the loan amount requested. The company that completes the valuation will be instructed by the lender and is funded by the buyer. The company that is used is completely at the discretion of the lender. They will want to use a company they trust to provide an accurate valuation. 

Occasionally lenders will offer free valuations as part of the mortgage deal. Whilst this can seem like a quick win, pay more attention to the interest rate. This will have a vastly bigger impact on the amount you will pay over the term of your mortgage. The cost of mortgage valuations vary depending upon the size of the house, but they typically cost between £350 and £500. For more information on mortgages and remortgaging properties, read our remortgaging guide

Who can do a survey? 

Surveys are carried out by qualified surveyors. Most of whom are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Surveyors who are members of this institute are the most qualified and are known as ‘RICS Accredited’. 

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Certain surveyors may have different areas of expertise. For example, some surveyors may specialise in character or unusual properties, or older properties. Bear this in mind when instructing a surveyor for your property. Likewise, if you can get a surveyor who has a knowledge of the local market then this is beneficial. They will likely have a more detailed knowledge of properties in the local area and their market value. 

What are the types of surveys? 

There are three main types of survey that you can have done on a property. The type of survey depends upon how in-depth the inspection and report will be, and therefore which issues will be highlighted to the buyer. The type of survey you get on your property will likely depend on the age and condition of the property. For example, newer properties will usually need less inspection and might only need a light inspection to uncover any urgent issues. Older or larger properties, or properties that are unusual, may need a more detailed report to uncover any structural issues. The three types of survey are below. 

Condition Report 

A condition report is the most basic form of inspection or survey that can be conducted. It will only highlight any serious risks or defects to the property that require urgent attention and need to be rectified. This report doesn’t go into great detail about the property’s condition, so it’s recommended for newer properties where the risk of defect is lower. 

Homebuyer Report 

A homebuyer report is a more in-depth report. It highlights issues that can impact upon the value of the property and brings to light any ongoing maintenance that is required. For example damp or subsidence. It’s important to note that this report will only be carried out on what is visible to the surveyor and they won’t inspect any hidden aspects of the property or drill into walls etc. 

Sometimes these surveys recommend repairs that come with an associated cost. These costs can be used to lower the purchase price of the property. So if you suspect that there are significant issues with a property that will need rectification at a later date, a survey like this can pay for itself with the price reduction on the property. 

Building Survey 

A building survey is the most in depth survey that can be carried out on a residential property. The survey will inspect the structural condition of the property and uncover issues such as poor ventilation or damp, Japanese knotweed, electrical and drainage problems, asbestos, roofing issues, and structural movement. 

Whilst these surveys are the most expensive of the three, they’re highly recommended for older properties or properties that are intended to undergo extensive renovation. If you have a clear idea of the property’s condition then you’re able to more accurately estimate the level of work needed to maintain or renovate the property. 

Do I need a survey? 

Whilst a survey is not a necessary part of purchasing a property, it can give you peace of mind and help you avoid unpleasant surprises. Knowing the extent of work that is required to be undertaken on a property before purchasing it can influence your decision to buy. Therefore a survey is recommended if you have any doubts about the structural integrity or general condition of a property that you’ve made an offer on. In particular we recommend that you instruct a surveyor if you’re interested in purchasing a property where: 

  • You have specific worries about certain parts of the property 
  • You’re unsure about the overall condition of the property 
  • The property is listed 
  • You’re buying an old or unusual property
  • The property has a thatched roof or is timber framed 



Selling a property can be difficult and fraught with stress and frustration. Particularly when sales fall through at the last minute due to surveys or problems with property chains. If you’re looking for a stress and hassle free way to sell your property consider a cash house buyer like SmoothSale. We can buy your property in as little as 7 days, and we purchase properties in any condition: we buy any house. If you’d like some more information or just a no obligation valuation on your property then get in touch on 0800 368 8952 or get a cash offer today! 

FAQs About Property Surveys

What Is the Cost of a Property Survey?

Property survey costs can vary based on factors like property size, location, and the complexity of the survey. On average, surveys can range from $300 to $700 or more.

Can’t I Rely on the Home Inspection?

While a home inspection is vital, it focuses on the interior and immediate exterior. A survey provides a broader view, including property lines and potential boundary issues.

Do I Need a Survey for New Construction?

Yes, getting a survey for new construction is recommended. It ensures that the property lines are correctly marked and that no encroachments have occurred during construction.

How Long Does a Survey Take?

The survey duration depends on the property’s complexity. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to complete the process.

Can I Use a Previous Survey?

Using a previous survey might be possible, but it’s recommended to get an updated one. Property conditions might have changed since the last survey.

Is a Survey Necessary for Cash Buyers?

Even if you’re paying in cash, a survey is essential. It protects your investment and ensures you’re getting what you pay for.

Sell your house for cash to SmoothSale

Simply enter your details below to get a no-obligation cash offer for your house.


Sell your house for cash to SmoothSale

Simply enter your details below to get a no-obligation cash offer for your house.


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