Building Survey's - What are they?
03 March 2022
In this article we discuss the term ‘Building Survey’, and what it means when buying a property in Scotland.
What is a building survey?
A building survey is a report prepared on the condition of a property for sale. It may also be known as a structural survey.
Different levels of surveys are available depending on your budget, the condition or age of the property you’re hoping to buy, or how much information you’d like to know about the house before committing to a formal offer.
Do I need a building survey in Scotland?
Properties for sale in Scotland must have a Home Report, unlike England, it is a legal requirement of the sale.
A Home Report is a type of building survey, which tells buyers everything they need to know about a property in terms of its condition and market value. It is a legal requirement for sellers to order a Home Report on their property before listing it for sale. Home Reports should be carried out by a RICS qualified surveyor.
A Home Report will typically include the following:
- A single survey, which looks at the general condition of the property
- A generic mortgage valuation, which assesses the typical market value
- An energy survey (or EPC), which has assessed the property’s energy impact and output, and utility costs
- A property questionnaire, completed by the seller, which covers any queries buyers may have about the property
Therefore, as a property buyer, you don’t necessarily need to order a building survey for a property in Scotland, as for many properties, the Home Report will cover everything you may wish to know.
Why should I get a building survey?
Sometimes, a property may need some extra assessment, or a buyer might wish to know more in-depth information about the condition of a property before committing to buy – this is when a building survey can come in handy!
A building survey can be useful for listed properties, older properties, unusual properties or a property that you are intending to renovate, or for a property which has some concerns raised in the initial Home Report. This is because, you can choose from a range or surveys to suit the property in question, and to find out more about its history, any limitations or potential issues that the Home Report didn’t uncover.
What building surveys are available?
Normally, you can choose between three kinds of buying surveys, depending on your needs: a mortgage valuation report, a home buyer’s report or a full structural survey.
Mortgage Valuation Reports
A mortgage valuation report is also known as a Scheme 1 Survey, this type of survey may be requested by buyers or mortgage lenders, as an alternative to a Home Report. This is usually the case if a property is being sold privately and is not being listed on the open market. A mortgage valuation survey will examine the value of the property, and will detail any obvious defects or structural problems in the property. This type of property is not as thorough as a Home Report, which may mean your mortgage lender will require more details.
Home Buyer’s Report
Otherwise known as a Scheme 2 Survey, a Home Buyer’s Report is a more detailed version of the Home Report that the property will be listed with. This type of report includes a valuation and a more detailed investigation of any issues with the property. Although, it will not include close inspections of the property’s roof or floors, so buyers should be aware that structural issues can be missed when ordering this kind of report.
Full Structural Survey
A full structural survey is the most in-depth type of building survey, and, the most expensive. A full structural survey is usually requested, ordered and paid for by the buyer, and this can happen prior to them making an offer on a property. Properties that are particularly old, characterful or have listed status tend be popular for full structural surveys. The surveyor will thoroughly assess the property’s condition and any defects, and will deliver a detailed report to the buyer, up to 20 pages long in some cases.
How much does a building survey cost?
A mortgage valuation report/Scheme 1 Survey is considered the most economical survey, and usually starts from around £200
A home buyer’s report/Scheme 2 Survey has a starting price of around £250
A full-structural survey is the most expensive building survey and can be priced at anything up to £1000, depending on the property’s value, size and condition
When should I get a building survey?
You should order a survey to be carried out before you make an offer on a property. In Scotland, if you make an offer and it is accepted you are legally bound to buy the property, so it’s important that you are happy with the condition of the property.
An alternative option is to make an offer ‘subject to survey’, which means that you will have a survey carried out if your offer is accepted. This option offers extra protection for the buyer.