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Anyone contemplating a substantial purchase should take independent advice before doing so.

For most of us, buying a property is the largest single purchase we will make and it therefore makes good sense to obtain specialist advice from an experienced chartered surveyor, before making a legal commitment to the purchase.

ISVA Members offer the following surveys:

Which survey do I need

Building Survey
Level 3 Report

Building Survey - Level 3 Report

Based on a detailed, visual inspection of the building, its services and grounds.

ISVA HomeSurvey
Level 2 Report

ISVA HomeSurvey - Level 2 Report

Will comment upon those major defects and shortcomings that might affect your decision to purchase.

More information

Won't the Mortgage Valuation be sufficient?

If you are buying a home with the assistance of a mortgage, the lender will probably commission a valuation report, to confirm whether the property offers adequate security for the loan. Whilst the valuer will, of course, take into account the general condition of the building, his or her valuation will be based on a brief, superficial inspection of the property. It is important to remember that, although it is often paid for by you, the purchaser, the valuation is intended solely to satisfy the requirements of the lender. It is not a survey – and you should not rely on it, when deciding whether or not to proceed with the purchase.

In these circumstances, therefore, you would be well advised to commission an independent survey report, which will provide more comprehensive information and advice than a mortgage valuation.

So what are the options?

Chartered Surveyors are able to offer three levels of survey report, to help you decide whether or not you should proceed with the purchase. They are:

  • A Condition Survey (RICS ‘Survey Level One’),
  • An Intermediate Survey (RICS ‘Survey Level Two’),
  • A Building Survey (RICS ‘Survey Level Three’).

Level 3 Report
The Building Survey

A Building Survey (formerly known as a ‘full structural survey’) is  an RICS ‘Survey Level Three’ service. A Building Survey report is based on a detailed, visual inspection of the building, its services and grounds and is more detailed than an RICS ‘Survey Level Two’ report.

A Building Survey is suitable for all types of building but it is almost certain to be required if the building is very old, if it is a ‘Listed’ building, if it is in need of extensive repair or if it is not constructed using traditional methods and materials.

Level 2 Report
The Intermediate Survey

The ISVA HomeSurvey is broadly equivalent to RICS ‘Survey Level Two’ and is a concise report, written in a straightforward format, which is easy to read and understand. It has been designed by the Independent Surveyors’ and Valuers’ Association and is available exclusively from our members. This survey is based on a visual inspection of as much of the inside and outside of the building as is reasonably and safely accessible. It is suitable for most conventionally built residential properties, constructed since around 1900 although properties that are unusual, by virtue of their design or construction or those that are particularly large might require a more detailed report, in the form of a Building Survey. Your surveyor will advise you further in this respect, during your preliminary discussion.

A full description of the ISVA HomeSurvey is given in the Terms and Conditions of Engagement leaflet, which your surveyor will provide but further information is also available from any member of ISVA.

Level 1 Report
The Condition Survey

A Condition survey is an RICS ‘Survey Level One’ service and is a concise report on the condition of a property. However, it does not include advice on any necessary repairs or future maintenance issues and in view of this, most members of the Independent Surveyors’ and Valuers’ Association will not offer this service – and will recommend that you commission a more detailed report.


It is not possible to give any guidance on costs here, as fees will vary according to the type, size, value and location of the property. Surveyors will always be willing to discuss fees before taking your instructions and if necessary, will sometimes make a preliminary inspection of the property, to ascertain the extent of the work involved, before quoting a fee.

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