It’s not unusual to wonder why you need a surveyor when you move house. After all, it can be an expensive process – and no one likes to spend more than they need to.

The role of a surveyor is an important one. Not only do they thoroughly check the property over, they also highlight possible issues that could arise. This knowledge has the potential to save you a lot of money in the long run, or even steer you away from buying a property you couldn’t afford to maintain.

Sadly, some buyers will avoid a survey to save costs, only to incur much bigger bills down the line.

Do you need a surveyor when buying a new house?

Some people may choose to skip a homebuyer’s survey with the hope of saving money. Whilst having a survey isn’t a legal requirement, it is still advisable to have one done. It can provide peace of mind if everything comes back fine. Alternatively, it can alert you to any major work that needs doing before you go ahead with purchasing the house.

Chartered Surveyor checking property, wearing blue suit, visibility jacket and hard hat.

Many people believe that because they have had a survey and valuation from their mortgage lender, they don’t need to pay a property surveyor. In reality, these are not the same. A mortgage lender will do a very rudimentary check, whilst a chartered surveyor will conduct an in-depth inspection. The money spent on a survey is usually much lower than the cost of major repairs.

What does a surveyor do?

In simple terms, a surveyor closely examines the inside and the outside of a property to discover and highlight any potential concerns. This can be anything from subsidence to an unsafe chimney, and everything in between. Their main role is to inspect every aspect of the house and report on what they find.

There are three different types of survey you can have done.

Level 1 Home Survey

A level 1 home survey is a very basic type of survey that can report on any major structural issues. It’s not as in-depth as the other two levels. Rather than go into detail about issues, it operates on a ‘traffic light’ system of red, amber, and green to let you know the overall condition of the property.

Level 2 Home Survey

This is a mid-level survey that goes into a bit more detail about its findings. It’s what most people go for when they’re buying a standard home that appears to be in a fairly reasonable condition.

This type of report will draw attention to any problems that might have a bearing on the property’s value. It will also lay out advice given by the surveyor on how to maintain and repair some of the issues found.

The surveyor won’t look behind furniture, under carpets or under floorboards, meaning it’s not as thorough as a level 3 survey can be.

Level 3 Home Survey

A level three home survey is the most in-depth type of survey. It meticulously looks at a property’s condition and structure.

This type of survey is ideal if you suspect the house may need major work, or you are dealing with an older building. It’s also possible to ask the property surveyor for guidance on timeframes and costs of repairing the issues they have found.

This survey is incredibly thorough and it’s commonplace to look under floorboards and inspect other areas that aren’t usually on display.

Why it’s wise to conduct a property survey

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or already on the ladder and plan on moving home, it is essential to know what you’re letting yourself in for.

Couple sat on sofa and smiling, looking at laptop

It allows you to check your finances

If a survey flags up some problems with the property you’re purchasing, it’ll give you the chance to re-evaluate your finances. You might need to consider whether you can afford to take on the property and have the work done in a timely manner. It may also give you scope to negotiate a fair price that will accommodate for repairs.

It might even be more financially beneficial to pull out of the sale altogether and begin your search again.

It brings peace of mind

It’s entirely possible to have a survey done on a property and for that property to be fine or have minor issues. If you know you’ve ordered the most thorough survey you can, then you can be certain when you move in that there are no nasty surprises waiting for you.

A survey that flags little to no issues will bring reassurance that the property is worth what you’re paying, as well as confidence in your new home.

You can get an accountability guarantee

An accountability guarantee is something that protects you if a major problem has been missed by your surveyor. Of course, this is unlikely to happen as chartered surveyors are qualified and regulated professionals, but it does give some reassurance that you’re getting your money’s worth. Read the terms and conditions of the survey you pay for to get the full information.

According to the experts at Joshua Roberts, “Surveyor is not a protected title in the UK, so if you want that extra level of protection, check that you’re working with a chartered surveyor on your property survey. This ensures they are qualified and regulated.”

Having a survey will allow you to see any issues with the house at the time you’re planning on buying it, so having reassurance that this is an exhaustive list is a huge bonus.

What are the risks of buying without a property survey?

If you choose to go ahead with purchasing a home without having a survey done, you might buy a house with lots of nasty and expensive surprises. Even if the house looks totally fine to you, there are lots of things that might not be easily visible such as dry rot, subsidence, a leaky roof, asbestos, damp, dangerous wiring, and lots more.

If you want to be certain the property you’re buying is totally liveable and has no hidden issues, it’s best to conduct a survey. It’s always better to be prepared than surprised.