News & Insights: Property

Surveys and the Property Purchase Process

26 August 2022

In the process of buying a home, whether you are a first time buyer or multiple investor, a key element which cannot be overlooked is the organisation of a Survey.


Under the precept of ‘caveat emptor’, also known as ‘buyer beware’, it is the purchasers obligation to make themselves aware of any physical defects in a property. A vendor is not obliged to inform a purchaser of any physical issues as part of the usual legal process. A purchaser cannot revert to a vendor regarding any physical defects once completion occurs as these become the sole responsibility of the purchaser. With the idea of Caveat Emptor in our minds, it becomes clear that risks can arise for purchasers who proceed with their purchase without organising a survey.


There are differing types of surveys a purchaser can obtain during the property buying process:-


  1. Valuation survey from a Lender


This is a very short survey conducted by the Lender. Its purpose is to determine the value of the property, not necessarily to look for physical defects. Due to lack of depth, relying on this type of survey to determine any physical defects may not be best advised.


  1. RICS Level 3 (Building Survey)


A full Building Survey is suitable for all properties but especially for older, listed and altered properties. This type of Survey usually does not include a valuation but this can be asked, if needed.


  1. RICS Standards Level 2 (Homebuyer Report)


This is the most used and popular survey as chosen by purchasers. This survey considers the whole property but in a simplified manner, highlighting issues of most concern. There are two forms for the Level two Homebuyers Report. One will contain a survey only and one will contain a survey and valuation.


The survey selected determines the level of physical defects identified. It is also worth noting that a solicitor can only comment from a legal perspective, and not from a surveyor point of view. Therefore, should any queries arise in relation to any defects, correspondence must be directed to the surveyor.



  1. RCIS Level One (Conditional Report)


This type of Report is used primarily for New Build Properties.



What can you do if a survey identifies defects?


  1. Renegotiate the purchase price


A surveyor who is a registered valuer can provide their opinion in relation to the purchase price in light of issues identified. As a survey is compiled by a professionally qualified surveyor, it enables the purchaser to revert to the vendor regarding a possible renewed purchase price.


It should be noted that if any price is renegotiated, the price identified in the mortgage offer must also be amended to reflect the new price and that any amendment to a purchase price being renegotiated is ultimately at the discretion of the vendor.


  1. Request works to be done prior to completion


A purchaser can ask the vendor to attend to works to be done to the property prior to completion based on the findings of the survey. Again, this can only be agreed with the vendor through negotiation.


  1. Reconsider your approach to the purchase


If the survey comes back in an unsatisfactory manner, so long as the purchaser is not locked in contract to complete, the purchaser can walk away from the transaction without the requirement to purchase the property. Alternatively, if a purchaser decides to proceed, it enables a purchaser to plan, being aware of issues needing addressed upon completion.



The importance of considering a survey in the process of purchasing a property cannot be underestimated. The worst scenario for a purchaser is not to commission a survey and subsequently discover, after completion, that numerous expensive works are required to bring a property to standard, all being at the cost the purchaser.


If you are purchasing a property and want to find out more about surveys or the property buying process, please contact the Conveyancing Team at O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors.


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