How to tell whether you need a homebuyer report or building report – 2 easy differences

Catherine McQueen discusses home ownership in London

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When looking into buying a home, old or new, there are different kinds of surveys and reports required before exchanging contracts. Although both are similar, a homebuyer survey and building survey are needed for different reasons. But how do you know which type you need? spoke to an expert to find out.

What is a homebuyer Report?

A homebuyer report is also referred to as a level two survey and is typically used for more conventional, modern properties.

This report is used to rate all permanent structures in properties that are younger than 100 years old, according to Warrick Swift, property inspection professional at Property Inspect.

He added: “A homebuyer report is more of a surface analysis that doesn’t look beneath the floorboards or inside the walls and instead looks for the presence of damp and subsidence in the areas already visible.”

They are conducted by a qualified surveyor who will record the condition of the property, urgent areas of concern and a market valuation.

What is a building Survey?

Building surveys are used to consider the materials used, means of construction and future performance of a building that is more than 100-years-old.

This level three survey is the most in-depth and is the most effective for finding hidden defects that could cost you in the future.

Which one do I need?

The easiest way to distinguish between needing a homebuyer report and a building survey is by the age of the building and whether you are looking to drastically alter the property.

Property inspection professional Warrick Swift recommends that “as long as you’re buying a house that hasn’t been too drastically altered from its original design or one that was built in the last 100 years, the level 2 survey should be enough to identify any problems that you will need to resolve.

“However, the in-depth nature of the Building Survey could uncover issues that the Homebuyers’ Survey misses which could cost you a great deal to resolve once you move in.”

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How much does a survey cost?

As a general rule of thumb, chartered surveyors advise that a survey is always a good investment as it could save you significant costs in the future

The cost of the survey is dependent on two things, the type of survey you require and the size of the property.

Homebuyer report surveys can range from anything between £400 and £1,000 depending on the type of property.

A building survey report can be £500 to £1,300 plus VAT. This is because it is more time-consuming and produces a more detailed report of the property and its structure.

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