One of the most common questions asked is: “How long does a building survey take?“
The answer is usually, “It depends.” It can take anywhere from 1 to 8 or more hours, depending on the property, then the report is usually back to you within five working days, and sometimes sooner if you have an urgent requirement.
The time needed varies based on:
- the size and type of the house,
- the age of the property,
- the type and manner of construction,
- the extent and nature of the defects that may be found,
- whether is occupied,
- the extent of furnishings and carpets,
- if it’s raining and the Surveyor has to keep nipping in and out between showers,
- and, of course, whether the vendor makes cups of tea or not! (We’ll never say no to a good cup of tea.)
Book Your Survey Early
No matter what type of building survey you are getting, it is important to book it early.
Once your offer has been accepted, you’ll want to get your building survey booked straight away.
This confirms that you are a serious buyer and eager to move. It will also get you to the point of exchange and owning the home quicker.
The 3 Different Types of Surveys
Level One: Condition Report
This is the most basic type of survey. It gives an overview of the property’s condition and highlights important issues but doesn’t detail them. A Condition Report is suitable if you’re looking to buy a standard, modern property that’s in good condition and wants to verify that everything looks okay. The report uses traffic light ratings to illustrate the condition of different parts of the property. You’ll find out if any serious defects need to be fixed right away or if anything might affect the property’s safety.
Level Two: Homebuyer Report
This is the most popular type of survey and the standard choice for most properties in reasonable condition. A Homebuyer Report looks at everything that would be covered in a Condition Report, with added extras.
The survey can take around two to four hours to complete. A Homebuyer Report lists any problems that might affect the property’s value and the Surveyor’s advice on repairs and ongoing maintenance. It should also highlight any problems such as dampness and subsidence and point out anything that doesn’t meet current building regulations.
The inspection is non-intrusive, meaning the Surveyor won’t look behind furniture or under floorboards, so they’ll only be able to identify ‘surface-level issues. A Homebuyer Report can also include how much the Surveyor thinks the property is worth the market and how much it would cost to rebuild the property entirely if it was destroyed and couldn’t be repaired.
Level Three: Sava Home Condition Survey
This is similar to the RICS Homebuyer Report but without the market valuation. It includes photographs to make it easier to understand and highlights issues to follow up on before finalizing the purchase.
Level Four: Full Building Survey
Also known as a complete structural survey, this is the most thorough survey you can get. It provides a comprehensive analysis of both the property’s structure and condition. A level-three survey is a good option if you’re buying a property that’s over 50 years old, of unusual design, or in poor condition. It can also be worthwhile if you’re planning to do significant work or have significant concerns about a property. It’s usually only undertaken on houses, not flats.
The Surveyor will be ‘hands-on and do things like check the attic and look under floorboards. The report will list any defects and advise on repairs and maintenance. You can also ask the Surveyor to include projected costs and timings for any repair work recommended in the report.
How Long Does the Survey Take to Complete
The amount of time a house survey takes depends on the level of survey you choose and, of course, the size and age of the property.
- A level-one survey might take less than an hour to complete.
- A level-two survey could take up to four hours.
- The amount of time a (level-three) complete structural survey takes varies depending on the type of property you’re buying, with some taking as long as a full day.
The most common option for those looking to purchase a house is a homebuyer’s survey because it provides you with the basics of what you need to know about most properties before buying. A homebuyer’s survey is generally the best option for you if you are not planning to make any major renovations or changes to the home and simply want to be informed about any potential problems that could cost you in the future. A level one survey may take an hour or less to complete, while a level two homebuyer’s survey, which goes into more detail, could take up to four hours. This can vary depending on the size of the home, the issues found, and the Surveyor.
Here is a more detailed guide to give you a better idea:
- Homebuyers Report – 2 bedrooms, recently built flat: 1.5-2 hours
- Homebuyers Report – 3 bedrooms, semi-detached house: 2-3 hours
- Homebuyers Report/ Building survey – 4 bedrooms detached house: 4-5 hours
- Building Survey – 5 bedrooms, detached house with garage: 5-6 hours
- Building Survey – 5 bedrooms, listed building with outhouse & garage: 6+ hours
If you are buying a new build home, you will need a somewhat different type of survey known as a snagging survey.
This will generally take a few hours to complete depending on the property and the Surveyor.
The survey aims to identify any faults with a new-build home and includes everything from minor cosmetic issues to major structural problems. Once you have obtained the report, this can then be given to the developer before moving into the property to allow you to have any issues corrected promptly under your developer warranty.
When Will You Receive the Report?
When you can expect to get your building survey results back will depend on several factors, including the Surveyor that you use and the complexity of the report. More complex reports will often take longer to be compiled and returned to you.
Your Surveyor will usually be able to provide you with an idea of how long you can expect them to give the report.
It is typically no longer than five days for level one or two surveys and approximately ten days for level three or complete structural surveys.
Once you get your house survey results or report, you might have some decisions to make.
If the report comes back with no significant problems, then you’re probably good to go.
But if there are serious issues, you could choose to pull out of the sale altogether, ask the seller to fix the problems or renegotiate the price. With so many things that could hold up a home purchase, having to wait for the survey report can feel frustrating.
But surveys could reveal potential deal-breakers before you are legally bound to complete the purchase, so surveys are well worth the wait.