Which RICS Survey Do I Need?

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When embarking on the journey of buying a new home in the UK, understanding the condition of the property is vital. To ensure a smooth and informed house buying process, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) provides various survey options tailored to suit different needs and requirements. This includes a Level 1 Survey, a Level 2 Survey and a Level 3 Survey. 

So, which RICS Survey do I need when I’m buying a new home? The survey you need to purchase a new home will depend on a variety of factors. This includes the property type and age, the properties current condition, and your desired budget for your survey. 


To help you decide which survey is best for you, and to learn more about what the different levels of surveys offer, our experts at Crest Chartered Surveyors London have written this short guide for you to explore. Simply keep reading to learn more…

Why are RICS Surveys Important?

Before delving into the different levels of RICS surveys, it is essential to understand their significance in the property purchasing process. RICS surveys are conducted by qualified chartered surveyors, providing potential buyers with an objective evaluation of the property’s condition. They help identify potential defects, structural issues, and maintenance requirements that may not be apparent during a standard viewing. Armed with this knowledge, homebuyers can make informed decisions and negotiate the purchase price more effectively.

RICS Level 1 Survey: Condition Report

The Level 1 RICS survey, known as the Condition Report, offers the most basic level of survey and is suitable for relatively new or well-maintained properties. This survey focuses on providing a snapshot of the property’s condition, highlighting any evident defects and offering guidance on necessary actions.

The Condition Report covers essential elements such as:

  • Identifying significant issues affecting the property.

  • A traffic light rating system indicating the severity of defects (red for urgent, amber for potential issues, and green for no significant problems).

  • A brief overview of the property’s construction and key features.

Level 1 surveys are relatively affordable and ideal for buyers looking for a general overview of the property’s condition without extensive details.

RICS Level 2 Survey: HomeBuyer Report

The Level 2 RICS Home survey, commonly known as the HomeBuyer Report (HBR), is more comprehensive than the Level 1 survey. It is suitable for conventionally built properties in reasonable condition and is one of the most popular choices among UK homebuyers.

The HomeBuyer Report includes:

  • A thorough inspection of the property’s visible and accessible areas.

  • Evaluation of major elements, including roofing, walls, floors, and ceilings.

  • Identification of any significant defects, urgent problems, or potential risks.

  • An estimation of the property’s value.

  • Recommendations for repairs and ongoing maintenance.

  • Additional advice for legal advisors and insurance providers.

HomeBuyer Reports provide a good balance between detail and cost-effectiveness, making them an excellent choice for many homebuyers in the UK.

RICS Level 3 Survey: Building Survey

The Level 3 RICS survey, known as the Building Survey or Full Structural Survey, offers the most detailed and comprehensive assessment of a property’s condition. It is suitable for older or larger properties, those with unusual construction, or properties that have undergone significant alterations.

The Building Survey includes:

  • A comprehensive inspection of all accessible areas, including concealed spaces like attics and basements.

  • Thorough evaluation of the property’s structure, materials, and construction methods.

  • In-depth analysis of potential defects, including subsidence, damp, and rot.

  • Detailed advice on repairs, maintenance, and future considerations.

  • Estimated costs for necessary repairs and renovations.

The Building Survey provides buyers with a comprehensive understanding of the property’s condition, offering peace of mind and confidence in their purchase decision. However, it is also the most expensive survey due to its extensive scope and level of detail.

How Do I Know Which RICS Home Survey Is Right For Me?


When buying a new home, it is crucial to know what type of survey you need to gain a comprehensive understanding of the property’s condition. A survey conducted by a qualified chartered surveyor can reveal potential issues and defects that may not be apparent during a regular viewing. Understanding the various survey options available will help you make an informed decision, ensuring a smooth and confident house buying process.

Factors to Consider:

  • Property Type and Age: The age and type of property you are considering will significantly influence the type of survey required. Older properties, those with unique construction, or listed buildings often demand a more detailed assessment, such as the Level 3 RICS Building Survey.
  • Property Condition: If the property appears to be in good condition and relatively new, a Level 1 RICS Condition Report may suffice. This basic survey provides a snapshot of the property’s condition and highlights any evident defects.

  • Budget: Consider your budget for the survey. The Level 2 HomeBuyer Report is a popular choice for many buyers as it strikes a balance between detail and cost-effectiveness, making it suitable for most conventional properties.

  • Risk Tolerance: Assess your risk tolerance as a buyer. If you prefer a comprehensive evaluation and want to be aware of any potential hidden issues, investing in a Level 3 Building Survey might be the best option for peace of mind.

  • Renovation Plans: If you have extensive renovation plans for the property, a more detailed survey would be beneficial to understand the full extent of work required and potential costs.

  • Surveyor’s Recommendation: Rely on the expertise of a qualified and experienced chartered surveyor who can visit the property and advise on the most appropriate survey based on its specific features and condition.

  • Lender’s Requirements: If you are obtaining a mortgage, your lender might have specific requirements for the type of survey they need to approve the loan. However, keep in mind that their required basic mortgage valuation is not a comprehensive survey.

Home Insurance Requirements: Some insurance providers might require a specific level of survey to ensure coverage for certain issues.

Get Help With Your Survey From Crest Chartered Surveyors

RICS surveys are an indispensable part of the UK property buying process. They offer valuable insights into a property’s condition, enabling prospective homeowners to make informed decisions and negotiate effectively. The three main levels of RICS surveys – Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 – cater to different needs and budgets, providing varying levels of detail. When selecting a survey, consider the property’s age, size, and condition, and consult with qualified surveyors from Crest Surveyors to ensure you choose the most appropriate survey for your unique requirements. Armed with a comprehensive survey report, you can embark on your house buying journey with confidence and peace of mind. To learn more, contact one of our helpful team members today.

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