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Should I Get A Level 1, 2 Or Level 3 RICS Survey On A Property?

Should I Get A Level 1, 2 Or Level 3 RICS Survey On A Property?

Should I Get A Level 1, 2 Or Level 3 RICS Survey On A Property?

If you are buying something as expensive as a property, it makes sense to get a professional’s opinion on its condition so you can make a well-informed decision about the purchase. And if a survey does identify issues of concern, and you still wish to buy it, you can use this evidence in your negotiations with the seller. If you decide not to proceed, the relatively small investment in a surveyor’s report may have saved you thousands of pounds of unexpected remedial work later on, or in the worst cases, a significant property loss rather than an investment.

The are various types of survey to assess a property's condition and they are rated by level – the higher the level, the more in-depth the survey. Getting the right level of survey is essential for homebuyers. But which survey to get?

A member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Iftkhar Ahamed, discusses the three main RICS surveys and when they might be most appropriate.

RICS Level 1 Survey/ Condition Report

A RICS Level 1 Survey, previously known as a Condition Report, is the most basic of the three surveys and is best suited to conventionally built, modern properties (ideally under 5 years old) that appear to be in good condition.

A surveyor will inspect the property and provide a simple report describing the property’s current condition and details about its construction but will not include advice on repairs or ongoing maintenance.

Your report will include ‘traffic light’ condition ratings for each of the key elements of the property, garage and outbuildings, clearly indicating those that appear normal, those that give cause for concern and those which will require attention.

Level 2 RICS Survey/ Homebuyers Report

As a Level 1 survey is really only suited to new builds and just provides a general assessment, the majority of properties will need at least a Level 2 RICS Survey which is also known as a Homebuyers Report.

The most popular type of survey available, a Level 2 RICS Survey assesses the general condition of the main elements of a property and the surveyor’s report should include:

  • Background information on the property and location

  • An estimate for the cost of rebuilding the property for insurance purposes

  • An assessment of any damp-proofing, drainage or insulation in the building (although drains are not tested)

  • Condition of the building’s timbers and checking woodworm or rot

  • Damp test results taken from the walls

  • Details of urgent problems which should receive specialist attention before signing a contract

It is important to note though that the Level 2 RICS surveyor’s inspection is not exhaustive, and no tests are undertaken. Concealed areas that are reasonably accessible such as roof spaces and cellar areas are inspected but there is a risk that certain defects may not be found that would have been uncovered if a more substantial investigation had been undertaken.

Essentially if your property is under 100 years old, conventionally built, hasn’t been the subject of any significant alternation and appears to be in good condition, then a Level 2 RICS Survey/Homebuyers Report will probably suffice.

RICS Level 3 Survey/ Building Survey

A Level 3 RICS Survey, often referred to as a Structural or Building Survey, is the most comprehensive of the surveys available for residential properties and will include an in-depth building inspection of a property’s condition and a full survey report.

The Level 3 Survey report will describe the condition of each element of the house and identify the property’s defects, their apparent cause, the urgency of repair, maintenance options, an approximate cost of repair and the likely consequences of inactivity.

Level 3 Surveys are needed for:

  • Listed Buildings

  • Properties over 100 years old

  • Buildings constructed in an unusual way, regardless of age

  • Buildings that the buyer intends to renovate or change after purchase

  • Buildings that have already been significantly altered

So as a rule, if you are looking to purchase an older property, one that’s unconventional, or has been the subject of significant changes, or you plan to do building work on it yourself in future, a Level 3 inspection by a RICS surveyor is recommended.

When Should You Arrange To Have Your Survey Done?

After you have had an offer on a property accepted it makes sense to contact a surveyor to get them booked in to do your survey as they can take a while to complete, for example, a Level 3 Survey can take up to a day to complete and the final report can take up to 2 weeks to turn around.

The earlier you get a survey done, the sooner you will know about any potential defects that are uncovered by the surveyor’s report. This will give you the opportunity to consider if you want to proceed. If you do, you can use the evidence in the report to negotiate with the seller, maybe asking them to carry out work on the property at their cost prior to exchange or negotiating a reduction in the purchase price to take into account the cost of the work that will be required to remedy any issues discovered in the surveyor’s report.

If you do choose to withdraw from the purchase it makes sense to be able to make that decision as soon as possible, minimising fees that may be incurred during the conveyancing process and enabling you to proceed with your property search.

How I Can Help

As a RICS-regulated professional building surveyor with over 14 years of industry experience, I can meet the surveying requirements of a wide range of properties. I will conduct a thorough and detailed inspection of a property and provide a detailed report on the construction and condition of the various building elements depending on which survey you choose. If you would like to discuss which survey might be best for you or get advice on any aspect of a RICS Level 1, 2 or 3 survey, please don’t hesitate to get in touch today on t: 07904 874348 or e:



Rectory Surveyors are experts in building and surveying, friendly and experienced, with a high degree of professionalism for all your surveying requirements. Learn more >

T: 020 7249 4954




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