House Survey, Building Survey or Historic Building Survey


What type of survey should I have?

One of the most common questions we get asked, and perhaps what most people get most confused about, is which type of survey to have.  You need to have the most appropriate survey for the building you are buying and you should know that a valuation is not a building survey in any shape of form.  In fact, we have not come across a valuation that hadn’t had a warning on it for many years that says it is not a Building Survey.  Yet still people buy what is usually the most expensive thing they ever buy without getting independent advice.  We say independent advice as you would be amazed with how many estate agents are tied up with financial advisers, insurance companies and their own surveyors.

buying victorian house

buying victorian houseIndependent Building Surveyors are quite rare and you need to ask and make sure you have an Independent Surveyor, typically they would be members of the Independent Surveyors and Valuers Association (ISVA) as well as being in the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Why have a survey at all, houses don't fall down do they?

It is quite correct to say that houses do not fall down, they rarely fall down, however they can cost a large amount of money particularly when you’re at the extremes of your budget.  It can be tempting to save money on not having a survey or having a survey as recommended by the estate agent (a bit like marking your own homework is like having an estate agent pick a survey for you).


Buildings do cost a lot of money, there have been many surveys over the years showing that typically the amount a survey costs is far exceeded by the discounts that you can negotiate or simply be made aware of and ensure you’re buying the property with your eyes wide open.

Tailor made surveys

In a mass production world of surveying a home buyers report is a tick box type survey with many caveats.  You don’t really get any form of tailor made survey until you have a building survey or a structural survey or historic building survey (there is no point employing a doctor to carry out dentist work).  It is very important that you have someone that is not only experienced in surveying but has experience of the sort of building you are looking to buy.  So do make sure you get an example survey from the Chartered Building Surveyor that is going to be carrying out the work for you.  If you are buying an Historic building, then make sure they have carried out surveys on historic buildings.  We have come across very qualified Building Surveyors who, in theory, should be very good at carrying out Building Surveys that simply do not have experience in that area.  Make sure they are independent and check with the ISVA and with RICS and find out if they are experienced in the sort of survey you are after.


buying victorian houseWe ask that you challenge us to find a survey of a similar property to what you are about to purchase.  We believe that we will be able to provide you with an example survey in every case for every type of building.  We have looked at buildings from every era, buildings such as a pub or a church or a chapel or a children’s nursery (which we have surveyed) or a windmill or glove factory and to the more common ones such as barn and cow sheds and farm buildings that would have been converted.

Please call us and we can email you some example surveys 0800 298 5424

What do we typically find?

It is very common to find structural movement in older properties.  The easy bit is finding it the hardest part is diagnosing whether the cracking or movement (which is often hidden by repairs and if exceptional or not to the buyer) and what it’s future indications are that it will have with regard to sell ability of the property.

High level roof and guttering repairs

We come across these fairly frequently and they can cause all sorts of problems, not only to the roofs but to the roof structure and also the walls.  Wet rot and dry rot can look very similar when you know what you are looking for but the consequences can be very different.  One of them is repairable and one of them is best avoided unless you really know what you are doing.

Compare our website and compare our great value surveys

Please feel free to have a look at our website to see for yourself the quality of our website, articles and Building Survey reports.  We pride ourselves on our professional standard and easy to read reports written in plain English, which we have been carrying out for many years on every era, type and style of property across the UK.

We believe our surveys are great value and pound for pound better than our competition.  We think it is very unlikely that you will get a better survey.  If you do send us a copy there is no doubt you will get a cheaper quote but we feel you will get a poorer quality Building Survey (we like to say compare apples with apples rather than apples with pears).

What do the circles and ovals meain in our building surveys?

We also use coloured  circles and ovals on our photographs and sketches to emphasise problem areas so that you are not left wondering what the problem is.

In addition to this, if the photographs do not we believe explain the problem enough together with our survey report we also add in one of our own sketches such as the example that is shown here.  For example, when talking about wet rot under the floors.

We also now can provide 2D and 3D sketches.

buying victorian house
buying victorian house
buying victorian house

Meet your building surveyor

We recommend you meet us at the property during the survey so that we understand exactly what you require from your survey report and so we can answer any questions you may have.

We can talk and talk about property

We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have included is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).  Please free phone on 0800 298 5424 for independent surveying advice.

All rights reserved to

All rights are reserved the contents of the website is not to be reproduced or transmitted in any form in whole or part without the express written permission of