House Survey Questions

I’ve no doubt that if you’re at the stage of considering a house survey you’ll probably have lots of questions to ask before you decide on a survey type or indeed a surveyor.

We’ve all been there before, you feel you should know the answer to all those questions floating around in your head, but you’re really not sure. 

So where do you go to find the answers? 

Thankfully I’ve dealt with lots of people who’ve been in exactly the same position as you are now. So, I’ll try to cover some of the more common questions I get asked in this section.

If the question you have in your head isn’t listed below, don’t worry, get in touch and ask me and I’ll do my best to help.

Common house survey questions.

Common House Survey Questions:

  1. Which type of house survey should I get?
  2. I already have a mortgage report, do I still need a private report?
  3. How much does a survey cost?
  4. What areas do you cover?
  5. At what stage should I instruct you to carry out a survey?
  6. How quickly can you do the survey?
  7. Do you test the electricity and plumbing etc?
  8. Will you contact me prior to doing the survey?
  9. How do I instruct you to carry out a house survy?
  10. How quickly will I receive the survey report after you visit the property?
  11. What’s the difference between a mortgage report and an RICS survey?

House Survey Answers:

  • 2.  I already have a mortgage report, do I still need a private survey?
 - It's important to realise that a mortgage report is a very basic report (typically carried out in less than 30 minutes) to enable the bank to make a lending decision. As such, the restricted time scale means its really easy to miss things. As an example during a mortgage inspection the surveyor inspects the roof void from the access hatch only.

    The bank may allow you to see the mortgage report, but it is not carried out for you so you cannot rely on it (as you are considered to be a third party).

In contrast an RICS survey is carried out on your behalf and is a much more detailed report looking at each individual element of the property separately. (Typically a HomeBuyers report involves up to two or more hours in the property so it’s possible to carry out a much more thorough inspection. 

    The RICS advise that “on average new homebuyers spend £5,750” (ComRes research on behalf of RICS) on repairs after they’ve moved into their new home. Which could potentially have been avoided by getting a more detailed survey.

    While It’s easy for me to advise you to get a survey, I’m obviously a little biased. So my advice to you is to speak to your solicitor and ask them if they think you should get one. (I’ll be surprised if they say no). 

    Think about how much money you’re about to spend on buying your house. If you were spending that amount of money on a second hand car wouldn't you want it checked by a specialist first?
  • 3.  How much does a house survey cost?

 - We only offer the Level 2 Home Surveys so it's had to speculate what other companies are likely to charge for level 1 or 3 surveys and prices will vary depending on the size of the property involved, but as a rough rule of thumb:
HomeBuyer Reports start around £400*.
Building Surveys are typically around twice the price of a level 2 report.

*NB our prices are all-inclusive and there are no hidden extras. I DON'T offer Level 1 or Level 3 surveys so it will depend on who you are getting to do it. 

  •  4.  What areas do you cover?
 - Although the majority of our work is carried out in the greater Belfast and Lisburn areas, we still do a lot of surveys around Newtownabbey and the Ards Peninsula etc.  I work within a 25 mile radius of Belfast including but not restricted to Newtownabbey, Antrim, Lisburn, Bangor, Newtownards, Ballynahinch, Downpatrick etc.
 Request a call back if you're not sure if I can survey your house or not and I'll let you know. We also have a base in Newcastle so we can cover a 25 mile radius from there as well.
  • 5.  At what stage should I instruct you to carry out a survey?
 - There is no hard and fast rule as to when you should instruct your surveyor. Once you’ve found the house that you want to place an offer on you should at least speak to your surveyor to get their advice as their lead time may affect when you need to instruct them. The legal process can take around 6-8 weeks and we've been known to have lead times, in busy periods, of 3-4 weeks.

  • 6.  How quickly can you do the survey?
 - This is affected by how quickly you can return the ‘Clients Instruction to Proceed’ form. 

    After we have an initial chat I’ll send you out some information sheets explaining things, along with terms of engagement and an instruction to proceed form. 
Once you’ve had a chance to read through everything and are happy you just need to sign the paperwork and we're good to go.

    We're usually quite busy and can have a lead time of anything from 2 week to 4 weeks, so it's best to speak to us as early as possible and we should be able to give you an approximate lead time. Once we have carried out the survey we can typically have your report ready to go within  24 - 48 hours.
  • 7.  Do you test the electricity and plumbing etc?
 - Neither the RICS Condition report or the RICS HomeBuyer reports include tests on services. A Building Survey will include a basic test of services by way of turning on taps etc. But testing services has to be carried out by specifically qualified trades people which is beyond the remit of a chartered surveyor. 

We do perform a visual inspection of services and will provide an opinion on condition and whether or not we would suggest a qualified expert should be instructed to test them.

  • 8.  Will you contact me prior to doing the survey?
 - I will keep you up to date with progress throughout the process and you can send me messages via our online portal.

  • 9.  How do I instruct you to carry out a house survey?
 - It’s really simple to get me to carry out a survey on your behalf. 
The first step is to get in touch by clicking here or requesting a call back here. Initially we’ll have a chat with you to discuss your requirements and help you decide on the best type of report for your needs. Then we’ll email you some paperwork which needs to be signed before we can carry out your survey.

  • 10.  How quickly will I receive the survey report after you visit the property?
 - We try to get reports sent out to clients within 24 - 48 hours of inspecting the property where possible.

  • 11.  What’s the difference between a mortgage report and an RICS survey? - As mentioned in question 2 above a mortgage report is there purely to allow a lender to make a decision for mortgage purposes. As such they are typically carried out in 30 minutes or less. So there is a good chance that the surveyor won't have been in the house long enough to pick up on all the issues and they don't have to get into the roof void at all so if there are any issues in the roof there's a good chance they won't be spotted.


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I appreciate there are hundreds of different house survey questions that I could have covered in this section but I'm obviously constrained by space. However if you have a question regarding the survey process that you're concerned about why not ask it here and I'll do my best to answer it.

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