Preliminary note re : lenders valuation report

This will be undertaken by your lender (if any) in order to establish whether the property being purchased will be adequate security for the amount of the proposed loan.

Normally you will be required to pay for and have sight of this report BUT this report is merely a brief valuation and will not necessarily reveal sufficient information about the state of the property to allow you to make a reasoned judgment as to whether or not to proceed.

Where the amount required by the buyer on mortgage, represents a significantly high percentage of the purchase price, the interests of the lender and yourself broadly coincide, in that if the value of the property does not provide adequate security for the loan, it is unlikely to represent a wise investment for yourself.

In these circumstances, it may be considered that a lender’s valuation report alone will provide sufficient protection of your interest : a valuation alone may also be considered adequate in circumstances where you are purchasing a property in the course of construction which is to be covered by an NHBC or similar scheme.

David Warren Jones : recommends you give serious consideration to the various survey report options outlined below before legal commitment to purchase.


In broad terms there are generally three options available :

  • RICS : condition report
  • RICS : home buyer report
  • RICS : building survey


RICS : Condition Report

This type of survey includes and inspection and a report in standard form by a surveyor.

It does not include a market valuation nor an opinion on the reinstatement cost.

It is intended for a ‘conventional’ house, flat or bungalow built from common building materials and in reasonable condition.

The report focuses on the ‘condition’ of the property and includes :

  • traffic light ratings of the condition of different parts of the building, services, garage and outbuildings, showing problems that require varying degrees of attention
  • a summary of the risks to the condition of the building and
  • other matters including guarantees, planning and building control issues for legal advisers


RICS : Home Buyer Report

This replaces the previous (Home Buyers Survey and Valuation).

It includes everything that is in the cheaper condition report but also includes :

  • a market valuation
  • an opinion on the reinstatement cost
  • a more extensive roof space and underground drainage inspection

The reinstatement cost will help the buyer decide on the building insurance cover needed


RICS : Building Survey

The building survey (formerly the structural survey) is the most expensive and comprehensive option.

The surveyor will make a detailed inspection of a wider range of issues : unlike the condition report and the home buyer report a building survey does not come in a standard format.

It gives detailed information about the structure and fabric of the property and also aims to :

  • establish how the property is built, what materials were used and how these will perform in the future
  • describe visible defects and expose potential problems posed by hidden defects
  • outline the repair options


A building survey may be appropriate for larger, older or run down properties, a building that is unusual or altered or in planning major works : it does not include a market valuation nor an opinion on the cost of reinstatement.


Specialist Surveys

A surveyor, even when instructed to carry out a full building survey, will not normally investigate drainage or electrical systems.

A property which does not have mains drainage may require a separate drainage survey from an expert in the field, since the cost of repair or replacement of a private drainage system can be prohibitive : liability for escaping effluent may also involve civil and criminal penalties.

If the electrical wiring system has not been inspected in the last five years a report on the adequacy and safety of the electrical installations may be desirable : similarly central heating/boiler and gas appliances may need to be checked prior to legal commitment to purchase.

Where environmental issues are relevant, a separate environmental survey may also be desirable to ensure the land does not harbour any hazardous substances which may incur liability on the land owner under the respective environment protection legislation.

If radon is a concern, the local authority for the area can often supply information relating to the presence of radon in the area : the National Radiological Protection Board publishes definitive maps, provides information on radon, and may be able to offer a written report on the radon potential for a property.

Consideration may also need to be given to a separate survey of the water supply pipes from the water supply company where the pipes supplying the property pass through or under adjoining property.