Homebuyers to get simpler jargon-free property surveys

Homebuyers could soon be better protected against buying properties with serious faults because surveyors want to simplify “confusing” homebuyer reports.

Anyone buying a property can pay for a homebuyer’s survey to check the condition of the building. 

Under the current system, people can end up buying houses with undiagnosed problems because they assume the survey will test for issues it is not designed to cover. Some buy homes with no survey at all because they think the mortgage valuation checks for property problems. 

There are several types of survey offered by surveyors, all offering different levels of checks. The lowest is the condition report, which will flag up major issues.

Then there is the homebuyer’s report, which is more thorough but still limited. For example, the surveyor will check for subsidence but is unlikely to look in the loft or lift any floorboards. 

Then there is the building survey, or structural survey. This is the most comprehensive and will check behind walls and between floors. The surveys are not applicable to all homes.

For example, the condition report is aimed at typical houses and newer homes, whereas the building survey is better for older or unusual homes. 

There is no industry standard for all surveyors, so a condition report from one might examine more problems than the same report from another.

Paula Higgins, of the HomeOwners Alliance, a pressure group, said: “I don’t believe surveys, in their current form, are fit for purpose.”