RICS
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Email us: office@cookesurveyors.co.uk office@cookesurveyors.co.uk
Cooke and Co. Surveyors

Residential Surveys

RICS Homebuyer Report

Referred to as a ‘Homebuyer’, this service has built a reputation for delivering a clear, comprehensive report for home buyers at an affordable price, with the authority of having been delivered by a fully qualified surveyor member of RICS.

Presented in a standard format, as devised by RICS, the service applies to houses, bungalows and flats that are conventional in type and construction and are apparently in reasonable condition. This would generally include property conversions and properties that:

  • are of Victorian to present-day construction (but we generally suggest 70 years maximum age);
  • have load bearing structures or simple frames;
  • use conventional building materials and construction methods; and
  • have service systems commonly used in domestic residential properties.

The RICS Homebuyer Report is pitched above a standard mortgage lender's Valuation, but below an in-depth Building Survey. It's designed to be a mid-range inspection that offers a guide on value and highlights areas of urgent repair to the home buyer.

The service is specifically designed for lay clients who are seeking a professional opinion on a property’s condition, at an economic price. It is, therefore, necessarily less comprehensive than a Building Survey (which provides a more technical and diagnostic assessment). The focus of the service is on assessing the general condition of the main elements of a property, and identifying and evaluating the particular features that affect its present value and may affect its future resale. The RICS Homebuyer is therefore often undertaken by a Chartered Valuation Surveyor.

The report will include condition ratings on elements of the building within section E: Outside the property; section F: Inside the property; section G: Services; and section H: Grounds (including shared areas for flats). These are clearly identified by the inclusion of a condition rating box in the right column against each element. One of three ratings will be given:

No repair needed No repair is currently needed;
No repair needed Defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered to be either serious or urgent; and
No repair needed Serious defects present requiring urgent attention.

As a mid-range survey, the inspection is not exhaustive, and no tests are ordinarily undertaken. There is, therefore, a risk that certain defects may not be found that would have been uncovered if testing and/or a more substantial inspection had been undertaken. However, where there is ‘a trail of suspicion’ the surveyor will take reasonable steps to follow the trail. These ‘reasonable steps’ may include recommending further investigation.

The RICS Homebuyer Report provides a valuation, a rebuilding cost and spotlights issues that may affect the value of the property. We can, however, omit the Valuation if required, thereby offering a cost saving to the client.

Major Defects Survey / Structural Survey

We are often approached by house buyers seeking assurances that there are no major or structural problems with the property they intend to purchase. This may be because they intend to strip out the fittings and completely renovate the property or, conversely, because the interior fittings and services have been recently installed and are known to be in good condition.

In these circumstances, we advise on a Major Defects (or Structural) Survey. This is a detailed visual examination of the main structural components, ie the walls, floors and roof, insofar as they can be seen, focusing on identifying any major problems, such as subsidence, timber decay, woodworm and dampness. We are also looking for any adverse affects on the main structure as caused by window replacements, loft conversions, the removal of walls, chimney breasts, wall tie failure and contamination in concrete floors.

We ignore the so-called cosmetic aspects of the property such as kitchen and bathroom fittings and decorations. The electrical services, heating and plumbing are also excluded.

This is an abridged version of the Building Survey and, because we are limiting our report to these major structural elements of the property, it is more economically priced than the Building Survey, whilst giving sound advice on technical defects. A structural survey is usually carried out by a building surveyor.

Building Survey

This is a very detailed survey during which the surveyor will identify the cause of defects, both major and minor, and provide the required remedy. The report covers the same aspects as the Homebuyer, but in more technical or diagnostic detail. The survey will detail the property's construction and materials. An elemental assessment will be given of the property's condition in the surveyor’s own format. 

The Building Survey embraces structural movement, dampness, timber defects including woodworm and rot, insulation and drainage, kitchen and bathroom fittings, electrical, heating and plumbing services, external areas, boundary walls and fences. It is more appropriate than an RICS Homebuyer Report for old, dilapidated or unusual types of property. A Building Survey is carried out by a building surveyor.

The Building Survey is more expensive than any other type of report in recognition of the work required. A Building Survey does not include a valuation.

Specific Defect Report

This type of report is often called for by a Valuation Surveyor acting for a mortgage lender in connection with a property sale. It is often referred to as a structural engineers report. The purpose is to provide assurances that the property has no major structural faults, which could otherwise adversely affect the value.

This may involve an assessment of the cause of any crack damage in the masonry, the internal finishes, or distortion in the floors and the walls. We carry out a full inspection of the damage with a view to providing a firm opinion on the cause and the necessary remedial action, which could range from cosmetic repairs only, such as the filling or repointing of fractures, to the removal of trees or repairs to drains. Underpinning is a last resort and rarely necessary in our experience.

With non-traditional dwellings, such as steel, timber or concrete framed structures, originally designed with a limited life expectancy, mortgage lenders will often require a structural report, given that some of these house types were known to incorporate defects which could affect future salability. Examples of non-traditional dwellings might include BISF, Trusteel, Minniel, Hawksley, Wimpey no-fines and Calder.

Surveys at a Glance

 RICS Homebuyer Report (level 2)Building Survey
(level 3)
Major Defects/Structural Survey
Type of PropertyApplies to conventional properties in a reasonable condition. Not non-traditional property.Suitable for all properties, particularly listed buildings, older properties, those of unusual construction, renovated buildings.Suitable for all properties but particularly where interior fittings & services don't need to be surveyed.
Type of ServiceA mid-price, mid-range service using a standard form to focus on urgent or major problems.A detailed report- the most comprehensive technical report on the market, detailing the construction, materials used, major & minor faults.Abridged version of the Building Survey homing-in on the mauin structural components, ie the roof, walls & floors.
Reason for surveyTo help you make an informed judgement on whether to buy the property. To work out if the property is a sensible price. To be clear on the decision and actions to be taken before contracts are exchanged.To provide a full report detailing the condition and construction of all aspects of the property. To highlight faults and advise on the repairs needed.To provide detailed advice on structural stability, timber diseases, and dampness. Provides assessment of the general condition of the main structural elements.
Age of property applicableWe advise up to 70 years oldAnyAny
Suitable for cash buyer  
What's included:
DampnessYesYesYes
Structural timbersYesYesYes
Structural movementYesYesYes
DrainsYesYesOnly if needed to investigate a structural problem
Electrical installationYesYesNo
Plumbing & heatingYesYesNo
Sanitary & kitchen fittingsYesYesNo
ValuationYesNoNo
Rebuild cost for insurance purposesYesOptional extraOptional extra
GarageYesYesYes
Survey undertaken byChartered Surveyor (RICS)Suitably experienced SurveyorSuitably experienced Surveyor
Report formatRICS standard formatDetailed report in surveyor's own formatDetailed report in surveyor's own format
Time typically spent on site2-2.5 hours2.5-3 hours1-1.5 hours
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Surveys at a Glance

 RICS Homebuyer Report (level 2)Building Survey
(level 3)
Major Defects/Structural Survey
Type of PropertyApplies to conventional properties in a reasonable condition. Not non-traditional property.Suitable for all properties, particularly listed buildings, older properties, those of unusual construction, renovated buildings.Suitable for all properties but particularly where interior fittings & services don't need to be surveyed.
Type of ServiceA mid-price, mid-range service using a standard form to focus on urgent or major problems.A detailed report- the most comprehensive technical report on the market, detailing the construction, materials used, major & minor faults.Abridged version of the Building Survey homing-in on the mauin structural components, ie the roof, walls & floors.
Reason for surveyTo help you make an informed judgement on whether to buy the property. To work out if the property is a sensible price. To be clear on the decision and actions to be taken before contracts are exchanged.To provide a full report detailing the condition and construction of all aspects of the property. To highlight faults and advise on the repairs needed.To provide detailed advice on structural stability, timber diseases, and dampness. Provides assessment of the general condition of the main structural elements.
Age of property applicableWe advise up to 70 years oldAnyAny
Suitable for cash buyer  
What's included:
DampnessYesYesYes
Structural timbersYesYesYes
Structural movementYesYesYes
DrainsYesYesOnly if needed to investigate a structural problem
Electrical installationYesYesNo
Plumbing & heatingYesYesNo
Sanitary & kitchen fittingsYesYesNo
ValuationYesNoNo
Rebuild cost for insurance purposesYesOptional extraOptional extra
GarageYesYesYes
Survey undertaken byChartered Surveyor (RICS)Suitably experienced SurveyorSuitably experienced Surveyor
Report formatRICS standard formatDetailed report in surveyor's own formatDetailed report in surveyor's own format
Time typically spent on site2-2.5 hours2.5-3 hours1-1.5 hours