What are the different home surveys you can get?

Home Survey Level 2,  homebuyer report, or a building survey; what’s the difference? Is it a case of a rose by any other name or is it a thornier issue than just semantics?

If you’re looking to purchase a property and are keen to employ the services of a property expert for a presale inspection, you may be seeking to commission a surveyor to visit the property. But when it comes to the specific survey you’re looking to purchase, the various names may leave you stumped as to which is the right survey for you.



Product names you may have heard ofWhat are these products called today?
Condition ReportHome Survey Level 1
HomeBuyer ReportHome Survey Level 2
Building SurveyHome Survey Level 3


Under the previous RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) survey classification system you’d be looking to have a ‘Condition Report’, a ‘HomeBuyer Report’ or a ‘Building Survey’. From an outside perspective, those unfamiliar with the property industry may deem these products interchangeable and not understand the differences or the varying levels of scope each individual type of survey provides.

Without prior explanation a Condition Report could sound like the survey that is going to provide the greatest level of detail on the condition of a property, because it’s in the name, right? But it is in fact the least detailed report you can commission.

This is in part why the RICS sought to replace the terminology used to refer to the different levels of home surveys. And it makes sense; a numerical scale sets out a clear progression for the level of survey a client is commissioning. So, why is there still some confusion? Despite the RICS setting out to “replace and harmonise previous RICS publications relating to residential surveys” in their Home Survey Standard Report updated November 2020, the terminology is somewhat ingrained at this point.

Just like anything, it will probably take some time to have a uniform reference point in place but no matter which survey you choose to go with, we would always recommend getting one. Any home survey you decide to get will help you gain a better understanding of the condition of a property to help avoid any costly oversights down the line.

Here is a rundown of the different RICS surveys you can look to commission:


Level 1 Home Survey  

A Level 1 Home Survey is also typically referred to as a ‘Condition Report’ and is the most basic survey option. The report will provide a rating system for elements of the house which will give an overview of the property’s condition and highlight any area of particular concern. However, a Level 1 Home Survey will not go into a great level of detail.
Level 1 Home Surveys are usually the most affordable option and would only be recommended as a suitable option for modern, standard construction properties that are in good condition.


Level 2 Home Survey

Level 2 Home Surveys are also commonly referred to as a ‘HomeBuyer Report’ and are a more standard choice of survey for properties in reasonable condition. The Level 2 Home Survey includes everything that would be covered under a Level 1 Home Survey but has several additional features.

The survey will similarly provide a rating system of different elements of the property but will provide a more detailed description. The surveyor will conduct a detailed visual inspection of the property and provide an overview of the entire property highlighting any aspect of the property that may require attention such as damp or asbestos.

A Level 2 Home Survey is most suitable for buyers purchasing a conventional property in reasonable condition that is built from common building materials.

SDL Surveying offer Level 2 Home Survey’s with or without a valuation. You can find out more about our Level 2 Home Survey products or get a quote for a home survey here.


Level 3 Home Survey

For older properties, properties of an unconventional build, or those in poor condition, a Level 3 Home Survey is recommended.

A Level 3 Home Survey may also be referred to a ‘Building Survey’ or a ‘Full Structural Survey’ and offers the most in-depth and comprehensive report available. The report from a Level 3 Home Survey will reflect a higher level of detail and thoroughness in the inspection, providing a full breakdown of the form of construction and materials used as well as outlining key characteristics of the property.

The report will not only highlight identifiable areas for concern but will also provide remedial options and raise potential consequences should repairs not be carried out.

In addition to obvious defects being pointed out in the report, a Level 3 Home Survey will discuss future maintenance of the property and outline elements that may result in more frequent maintenance and repairs than may be normal.

For more information about what is included in a Level 3 Home Survey take a look here.


Compare surveys for yourself!

For a comparison of what is included in the different level of surveys, peruse our survey options or take a look at our comparison guide here.

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Buying a home is one of the most expensive purchases you are likely to ever make, so don’t take the risk of buying one with hidden defects.

Book a home survey with SDL Surveying and we’ll help highlight if there are any issues with the property that may not be immediately obvious when viewing a property.

Request a home survey