Surveyor with clipboard

Building Survey Checklist for Homebuyers

We love helping homebuyers, so we created a building survey checklist that you can pass to your surveyor to ensure you’re getting a full and thorough inspection of your property and, thus, value for money.

Buying a home is one of the most significant investments you’ll ever make. To ensure you’re making an informed decision, a building survey is an indispensable step in the home-buying process. However, not all surveys are created equal. As a homebuyer, how can you ensure that your building survey provides the comprehensive insight you need? The answer lies in being proactive and well-prepared, and that is why we have created a checklist that you can issue to your chosen surveyor to ensure that they provide you with a full and thorough inspection and report.

The Importance of a Thorough Building Survey

A detailed building survey can uncover potential issues that might not be visible during a regular viewing. It examines structural integrity, identifies any necessary repairs, and highlights future maintenance needs, saving you from unexpected expenses post-purchase.

Surveyor with clipboard

Introducing the Building Survey Checklist

To help homebuyers get the most out of their building surveys, we’ve developed a 500-point checklist. This extensive guide aligns with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Home Survey Standard, ensuring a thorough and professional assessment of your potential new home.

Checklist Highlights Our checklist covers a wide range of areas, including:

  • Exterior and Interior Inspection: From roof to foundation, and every room in between.
  • Systems and Safety: Evaluating electrical, plumbing, heating, and safety measures.
  • Additional Assessments: Considering the neighbourhood, legal compliance, and potential for future modifications.
  • Final Review and Reporting: Ensuring the survey report is comprehensive, clear, and actionable.

How to Use the Checklist

  1. Review the Guide: Before your survey, familiarize yourself with the checklist to understand what areas will be covered.
  2. Share with Your Surveyor: Send the checklist to your surveyor, asking them to use it as a framework for their inspection. This ensures a comprehensive approach and that nothing important is missed.
  3. Compare the Report: After receiving the survey report, compare it with the checklist to confirm all areas have been covered.

Why This Approach Matters By taking an active role and providing your surveyor with this detailed checklist, you are not only ensuring a thorough inspection but also protecting your investment. You’ll gain peace of mind, knowing you have a complete understanding of the property’s condition before making your final decision.

The Building Survey Checklist

DOWNLOAD PDF CHECKLIST

Exterior Inspection

General Condition

  • Assessing the overall visual appeal and structural integrity.
  • Checking for signs of neglect or recent repairs.
  • Examining soil and surrounding landscape for proper drainage.
  • Assessing fences for stability and boundary clarity.

Roof

  • Evaluating roofing materials (tiles, shingles) for wear and damage with a full explanation of cause and remedy.
  • Inspecting gutters and downspouts for blockages or damage.
  • Checking chimneys for structural integrity and signs of wear.
  • Examining skylights for leaks and proper sealing.

Foundation

  • Looking for cracks, unevenness, or signs of shifting. and provide a full explanation of the cause of any cracks.
  • Check for signs of water pooling or dampness.
  • Evaluating the type of foundation (concrete, stone) and its condition, if possible or using extensive experience of the property type make appropriate assumptions.

Walls and Cladding

  • Identifying wall materials (brick, siding) and their condition.
  • Checking for dampness, staining, or water damage.
  • Evaluating the condition and effectiveness of paint or finishes.

Windows and Doors

  • Testing functionality and condition of frames and panes.
  • Assessing the effectiveness of sealant and weather stripping.
  • Looking for signs of wood rot or decay in wooden frames.

Driveways and Walkways

  • Examining surface material and condition.
  • Checking for proper drainage and absence of significant cracks.
  • Assessing alignment and signs of sinking or heaving.

Garage

  • Evaluating door mechanism and ease of operation.
  • Inspecting roof, walls, and floor for signs of wear or damage.
  • Checking for proper ventilation and absence of dampness.
  • Check for rot, dampness, subsidence, floor slab rotation, and cracks.

Interior Inspection

General Interior Condition

  • Checking floor levels for unevenness.
  • Inspecting walls and ceilings for cracks, dampness, or stains.
  • Assessing the condition of internal stairs and railings.

Electrical System

  • Testing switches and outlets for functionality.
  • Inspecting electrical panels for safety and capacity.
  • Evaluating the type and condition of wiring.

Plumbing System

  • Inspecting pipes for material type (PVC, copper) and condition.
  • Testing water pressure and drainage efficiency.
  • Checking for leaks or signs of previous water damage.

Heating and Cooling Systems

  • Determining the type (boiler, furnace) and age of the system.
  • Testing for functionality and efficiency.
  • Review maintenance records and inspect for signs of wear.

Insulation

  • Identifying types of insulation used (fiberglass, foam).
  • Evaluating the adequacy of insulation and ventilation.
  • Checking for signs of dampness or mould in insulated areas.

Fire Safety

  • Locating and testing smoke detectors.
  • Checking the availability and condition of fire extinguishers.
  • Reviewing escape routes and their accessibility.

Basement/Crawl Space

  • Assessing for dampness or water ingress.
  • Checking structural integrity of beams and joists.
  • Evaluating insulation and ventilation conditions.

Kitchen

  • Inspecting condition and functionality of appliances.
  • Checking the integrity of cabinets and work surfaces.
  • Evaluating plumbing and electrical systems specific to kitchen needs.

Bathrooms

  • Testing fixtures for functionality and signs of leakage.
  • Assessing ventilation systems and their effectiveness.
  • Checking for water damage or mould on surfaces and fixtures.

Bedrooms and Living Areas

  • Evaluating room dimensions and layout.
  • Testing window and door functionality.
  • Inspecting electrical outlets and lighting fixtures for safety and adequacy.

Floors, Walls, and Ceilings

  • Assessing the condition of flooring materials (carpet, hardwood).
  • Checking walls and ceilings for signs of settling or movement.
  • Evaluating the quality and condition of finishes.

Systems and Safety

Environmental Concerns

  • Testing for asbestos in older properties.
  • Checking for the presence of lead paint in older layers of paint.
  • Conducting radon level tests in basements and ground floors.

Security System

  • Assessing the type (monitored, unmonitored) and functionality.
  • Checking integration with local emergency services.
  • Reviewing the coverage of cameras and sensors if present.

Energy Efficiency

  • Evaluating window efficiency for heat loss.
  • Checking the adequacy of insulation in walls and lofts.
  • Assessing the efficiency of the HVAC system.

Local Compliance

  • Reviewing zoning regulations for compliance.
  • Checking for building code compliance in modifications and extensions.
  • Examining property for adherence to local planning permissions.

Accessibility

  • Assessing features for disability access (ramps, handrails).
  • Evaluating door widths and layout for wheelchair accessibility.
  • Checking bathroom and kitchen for accessibility features.

Historical Considerations

  • Identifying any restrictions due to historical significance.
  • Assessing requirements for preservation and maintenance in line with historical status.

Additional Assessments

Neighbourhood Assessment

  • Evaluating proximity to essential amenities ( Transport, airports, buses and trains, shops and schools).
  • Assessing noise levels from traffic or commercial activities.
  • Checking for planned developments or changes in the area.

Potential Modifications/Upgrades

  • Assessing the feasibility of desired renovations or extensions.
  • Evaluating the potential for upgrading systems (electrical, plumbing).
  • Considering the impact of modifications on property value.

Document Review

  • Reviewing property deeds for boundary and right-of-way information.
  • Examining previous survey reports for unresolved issues.
  • Assessing warranty documents for appliances and work done.

Professional Consultations

  • Recommending a structural engineer review for specific concerns.
  • Suggesting a pest inspection to check for infestations.
  • Advising legal consultation for any anomalies in documentation.

Final Review and Reporting

Summary of Findings

  • Compiling major and minor concerns identified during the survey.
  • Offering recommendations for repairs or further investigations.
  • Highlighting any immediate safety concerns.

Photographic Documentation

  • Capturing images of both exterior and interior, focusing on problem areas.
  • Documenting specific issues in detail.
  • Including images of systems and appliances for reference.

Cost Estimation

  • Providing rough estimates for necessary repairs.
  • Estimating costs for potential upgrades or improvements.
  • Offering guidance on ongoing maintenance costs.

Future Inspection Plan

  • Suggesting a schedule for regular maintenance and inspections.
  • Advising on when to conduct the next detailed property survey.

Final Report Compilation

  • Organizing all data, photographs, and findings coherently.
  • Ensuring the final report is clear, readable, and comprehensive.
  • Preparing the report for delivery to the property purchaser.

Stakeholder Discussion

  • Facilitating a review meeting with the property purchaser.
  • Providing clarifications and explanations for findings.
  • Discussing next steps, action plans, and potential negotiations based on the survey.

This expanded checklist covers a wide range of aspects for a property survey tailored for property purchasers in England. It emphasizes material types, performance characteristics, and future maintenance, providing a thorough framework for evaluating a property’s condition.

In order to align the comprehensive property survey checklist with the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Home Survey Standard, certain modifications and additions are necessary. The RICS Home Survey Standard focuses on providing clear, consistent, and transparent information to clients. Here’s how the checklist can be adapted:

Compliance with RICS Home Survey Standard

  • Ethical and Professional Standards: Ensure the surveyor adheres to the ethical guidelines and professional standards set by RICS.
  • Client Agreement: Define the terms of service, scope, limitations, and purpose of the survey in a clear client agreement, as recommended by RICS.
  • Impartiality and Independence: Guarantee the surveyor’s impartiality and independence, avoiding any conflicts of interest.
  • Complaints Handling Procedure: Include a clear procedure for handling complaints, in line with RICS requirements.

Exterior and Interior Inspection

General and Specific Checks

  • Ensure all inspections and assessments are conducted in a methodical manner, following the RICS guidelines for thoroughness and attention to detail.
  • Focus on identifying defects and providing advice on repairs and maintenance in line with RICS standards.

Systems and Safety

  • Detailed System Analysis: Assess the condition and functionality of various systems (electrical, plumbing, HVAC) as per RICS guidelines.
  • Safety Checks: Ensure all safety-related checks, including fire safety and environmental hazards, comply with RICS standards for risk assessment.

Additional Assessments

  • Legal and Documentation Review: Conduct a thorough review of documents and legal compliance as recommended by RICS, ensuring no legal issues are overlooked.

Final Review and Reporting

  • RICS-Standard Reporting: Ensure the final report is comprehensive, clear, and follows the RICS Home Survey Standard format. It should be easily understandable to the client, providing practical advice and clear conclusions.
  • Photographic Evidence: Include photographic evidence as per RICS guidelines, ensuring it supports the findings in the report.
  • Cost Estimation and Future Planning: Provide cost estimations and future maintenance advice in line with RICS recommendations.

Vendor Questionnaire

  • Inclusion of Vendor Questionnaire: Request a completed vendor questionnaire to be provided with the report. This questionnaire should cover essential information about the property, including any alterations made, warranties, and other relevant information.
  • Cross-Reference with Survey Findings: Ensure that the information from the vendor questionnaire is cross-referenced with the survey findings for consistency and completeness.

Stakeholder Engagement

  • Discussion and Clarification: Offer a detailed discussion post-survey to clarify findings and advise on the next steps.
  • Communication with Client: Maintain open and transparent communication with the client throughout the survey process, as advised by RICS.

Adherence to RICS Guidelines Throughout

  • Throughout each step of the survey, ensure adherence to RICS Home Survey Standard guidelines. This includes the depth of the investigation, the clarity of reporting, and the provision of realistic and practical advice to the client.
DOWNLOAD PDF CHECKLIST

By aligning this comprehensive checklist with the RICS Home Survey Standard, the surveyor will be able to provide a detailed, clear, and useful report that aids property purchasers in making informed decisions. Including the vendor questionnaire as part of the report adds an additional layer of information, ensuring a well-rounded understanding of the property’s condition and history.

A home is more than just a building; it’s a future full of potential. By using this comprehensive checklist for your building survey, you’re taking a crucial step towards ensuring that your new home is everything you want it to be, both now and in the future. Be proactive, be informed, and embark on your home-buying journey with confidence.

When pondering what surveyors look for, envision a thorough, detailed inspection of your property, and with Flettons Surveyors, that’s precisely what you get. Our commitment ensures you’re armed with knowledge, whether you’re buying, selling, or merely preserving. Entrust us with your property journey, and we promise clarity, expertise, and peace of mind every step of the way.

With Flettons, safeguarding your property investments becomes hassle-free. Our seasoned team ensures your prospective home is examined thoroughly so future surprises are off the table. Keen on a building survey report that prioritizes your safety? Secure an instant quote via our online calculator or reach out to us directly at 0203 691 0451. Your home’s health is just a call away!