What is residential surveying?

News at Townends | 28/01/2019


What is residential surveying?

Surveying is a complex and multi-faceted profession, with people specialising in a wide range of niche disciplines, from looking at façades (the external envelope of a building) to geomatics (the 2D and 3D measurement of a space).

In this blog, we’re going to concentrate on one area relevant to those buying or selling a house: residential surveying.  

What does a residential surveyor do?

Buying a property is likely to be the biggest transaction any of us will ever make. Because of this, there are a number of due diligence steps in place so buyers can be sure they’re making a sound investment. One of the most important stages is to undertake a residential survey.

In short, a residential surveyor will highlight current and potential defects in a property and help the purchaser to avoid any costly surprises after they have moved in. They will visit the property before it’s purchased and carry out a number of checks, which will be compiled into a report.

How do I work with a surveyor?

It’s important not to confuse a valuation with a survey. If you’re purchasing a property and need a mortgage, your provider will appoint a surveyor to undertake a basic valuation to check the property is worth the money you have agreed to pay. They won’t be acting on your behalf, but they’ll still need to access the property so they can report back to your mortgage provider. You will usually be told the outcome of the valuation by your provider, or if you are selling a property, your estate agent will be able to find out whether your seller’s mortgage provider is happy to proceed.

You’ll also need to appoint a surveyor to carry out a more detailed inspection of the property itself. There are a number of surveys available and choosing the right one will depend on the overall condition of the property you want to buy.  

What kind of survey do I need?

 It’s best to request a residential survey report that is underpinned by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) – the professional body which promotes and enforces surveying standards.

There are three types of report:  

1) RICS Home Condition Report (HCR) – most suitable for conventional property and newer homes, this describes the condition of the property and identifies any risks and potential legal issues. It highlights any urgent defects using a ‘traffic light’ system.

2) RICS Homebuyer Report (HBR) – usually for conventional properties in reasonable condition, this report gives you more detailed information and provides the choice of either a survey or a survey & valuation.

i) HomeBuyer Report (survey)
Includes all the features of the RICS Condition Report with additional advice on defects that may affect the property, with repairs and ongoing maintenance advice.

ii) HomeBuyer Report (survey & valuation)

Includes all the features of the RICS Condition Report, plus a market valuation and insurance rebuild costs. It also includes advice on defects that may affect the value of the property, with repairs and ongoing maintenance advice

3) RICS Building Survey – usually essential for larger or older properties or if you’re planning major works. This comprehensive report provides you with an in-depth analysis of the property's condition and includes advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options.


To find out more about the different types of survey available and what they include, view our infographic here.

How much will a survey cost?

The cost of a survey report will naturally increase according to the level of detail it provides. However, the exact price will depend on a number of factors, including the value of the property and its location. Don’t forget that this upfront cost will provide you with peace of mind that the property is a solid investment.

Contact our expert partners at Tyser Greenwood Chartered Surveyors for a tailored quote here.

How do I find out if a surveyor is RICS qualified?

Surveyors are usually highly-trained experts with the relevant qualifications and experience in their field. RICS accredits over 130,000 qualified and trainee professionals as individuals or as a firm. Working with a RICS registered professional means you’ll have confidence in the quality and ethics of the individual or company.

There are four main types of RICS membership:

1) Professional Experience (MRICS): these surveyors will have a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of relevant post-degree work experience.

2) Graduate (MRICS): Graduates can join with an RICS accredited degree.

This includes graduates who have just left university, and those who have already achieved a number of years of work experience by the time they complete their degree.

3) Associate (AssocRICS): this is an entry-level qualification for those with four years relevant work experience and vocational qualifications.

4) Fellow (FRICS): this recognises an individual’s achievement as a professional member as a mark of distinction. This is reserved for the most experienced surveyors.

 Our surveyors at Tyser Greenwood Chartered Surveyors are all RICS registered. Established in 1873, they operate across the UK and have extensive experience undertaking the full range of residential and commercial surveys.

To speak to one of our experts, or to obtain a quote for a surveying report, click here