Before you buy, make sure you know about the benefits of Surveys


Waterman & Company are members of Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and provide other related services and advice including:

  • Building Surveys
  • Homebuyer Survey and Valuation Reports
  • Home Condition Reports
  • Probate Valuations
  • Boundary Disputes
  • Land Acquisition
  • Planning Advice
  • Energy Performance Certificates
  • Contrary to the impression given by some mortgage providers, you do not have to use the surveyor recommended by them.

Building Surveys

A Building Survey is a comprehensive inspection of a property for any structural defects, and defects in general condition reported in a style to suit the property and your specific requirements. The report produced by this survey will be highly detailed and will include photographs and a copy of the report on a CD Rom. It is suitable for all properties, especially:

  • Listed buildings
  • Older properties
  • Buildings constructed in an unusual way, however old they are
  • Properties you plan to renovate of later in any way
  • Properties that have had extensive alterations
  • It examines all accessible parts of the property – and you can ask to have specific areas included, so it covers any particular concerns you have about the building. It is a product which can be tailored to your needs agreed between you and your surveyor.

A Building Survey can include details of:

  • Major and minor defects and what they could mean
  • The possible cost of repairs
  • Results of damp testing on walls
  • Damage to timbers – including woodworm and rot
  • The condition of damp-proofing, insulation and drainage (though drains are not tested)
  • Technical information on the construction of the property and the materials used
  • The location
  • Recommendations for any further special inspections
  • A Building Survey does not include a valuation, but your surveyor can provide this separately if you need one.

Home Buyer Survey and Valuation Report

A Homebuyer Survey and Valuation (HSV), also known as a Homebuyer’s Report is a survey completed to a standard format set out by RICS. This survey will provide a valuation opinion, but will also give some indication of the state of the property and its level of repair and maintenance. Generally okay for properties of less than 60 – 70 years old.

An HSV includes details of:

  • The general condition of the property
  • Any major faults in accessible parts of the building that may affect the value
  • Any urgent problems that need inspecting by a specialist before you sign a contract
  • Results of tests for damp in the walls
  • Damage to timbers – including woodworm or rot
  • The condition of any damp-proofing, insulation and drainage (though drains are not tested)
  • The estimated cost of rebuilding the property for insurance purposes
  • The value of the property on the open market

Home Condition Report

This report contains information about the physical condition of various common elements of a property, which sellers, buyers and lenders will be able to reply on legally as an accurate report.

Unlike a survey it does not contain advice. The Report is a voluntary document which can be included in the Home Information Pack. It is prepared by an accredited Home Inspector, who may or may not also be a chartered surveyor.

However, concerns raised in an HCR can be investigated further by a Chartered Surveyor who will advise you on remedial action.

Energy Performance Certificate

An Energy Performance Certificate is commissioned by the seller (or their agent) from an accredited Energy Assessor, who visits the property to collect the relevant date and creates the certificate.

This data includes the date, construction and location of the property and relevant fittings (heating systems, insulation or double glazing, for example).

The Energy Performance Certificate is similar to the certificates now provided with domestic appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines.

Its purpose is to record how energy-efficient a property is as a building and advise you how to make your home more energy efficient. The certificate will provide a rating of the property from A to G, where A is very efficient and G is very inefficient.

The ratings will vary according to the age, location, size and condition of the building. The potential rating on the certificate will take these factors into account, and the suggested measures will be tailored so that they are realistic for the particular building.

What you can expect from a Survey?

Surveys are a kind of ‘health check’ for buildings. If you’re buying a property, you should have a survey done before you enter into a contract.

A survey can actually save you money. If there are serious problems, you can often re-negotiate the sale price of the property to reflect the cost of necessary repairs – or you may even decide you don’t want to buy it after all.

Your surveyor will report on all the parts of the property they can easily reach. They don’t inspect under carpets or furniture, and they don’t test the water supply or wiring – though they’ll comment on their condition.

There are two main types of survey, an RICS Homebuyer Survey and Valuation (HSV) and a Building Survey.

If you’re about to buy a property, you may have specific worries about the building you’re going to buy. Talk them through with an RICS member – they’ll be happy to discuss your particular concerns in more detail and help you decide which type of survey is right for you.

If you’re interested in making structural changes to a property, or you think there may be a damp or dry rot problem, an RICS member will be able to advise you about this too.

Their report is designed to help you make a more informed decision. Costs vary according to which type of survey you have, but both Homebuyer’s Survey and Valuation Reports (HSV) and Building Surveys can offer reassurance.

Lender's Valuations

A lender valuation isn’t a survey. It’s a limited check on the property that your mortgage lender carries out to ensure it’s worth the money they’re lending you.

They’ll probably ask you to pay for the valuation. Lenders provide a copy of the mortgage valuation to the buyer but it is unlikely to cover items of detail which would be picked up in a survey.

There may be a problem in the property that would cost a huge amount to put right these defects and won’t appear in the valuation report. This is why it’s really important you have a survey. A RICS surveyor is fully qualified to carry out a detailed survey, before you buy your home.

The property may not even be visited. To view what a valuation includes and does not include, visit to download a valuation factsheet.