Homebuyers Report or Structural Survey

1stAssociated can provide help and advice with regard to homebuyers reports, full structural surveys, building surveys, valuations, residential building surveys, commercial building surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects reports, damp reports, or any other property matters.

As you can see from this article we use lots of sketches and photos in our reports as the feedback we have from our clients is that the sketches and photos help them understand the reports.

Please free phone 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat with one of our surveyors.



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What really is the difference between a Homebuyers Report and a Building Survey?

This question comes up time and time again and is asked in many different ways. People ask: 

What is the difference between a homebuyers report and a building survey?

What is the difference between a homebuyers report and a full structural survey?

Or as the title says:

What is the difference between a homebuyers report and a structural survey?

All these three different terms building survey, structural survey and full structural survey all mean the top end survey.

The question is how do these differ from the homebuyers report?

If you Google what is the difference between a homebuyers report and a structural survey/building survey/full structural survey you will see all sorts of answers and we feel you would be none the wiser.  Even on the money saving expert website, that we think is very reliable, we have seen all sorts of answers.  If you look at the website as a whole there are many, many different answers, some from surveyors and some from non-surveyors.

First of all we do need to say that we are writing this article as Building Surveyors.  This is not the standard answer you get if you ring up the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors also known as RICS, which again can cause confusion with some people.  We have heard people ring up and ask for an RICS survey.  We think the best thing is to ring up and explain what age of property you have got and what you intend to do with the building and then the surveyor can best answer the question of what sort of survey do I require?  But here specifically relating to a homebuyers report is some further information:-

Homebuyers Report

A homebuyers report is only a basic report although the RICS, otherwise known as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, are forever updating the homebuyers report document to improve it.  We cannot fault them for that.  With a homebuyers report clients have to make further enquiries or are referred onto make further enquiries regarding property issues.  We have heard comments from clients that the homebuyer's reports are very general and that they do not actually state how to solve the problem but refer you onto someone else.


The problems with Homebuyers Reports

Homebuyers' reports from the point of view of economics are very cheap.  Homebuyers Reports are produced in almost a tick list format to save the surveyor time.  They have to be written when a valuer is carrying out several valuations a day and a homebuyers report.  We have heard valuers almost sigh when they know they have got a homebuyers report to do as they are not as profitable as carrying out valuation reports as they are not a quick.

Don't delay Free Phone 0800 298 5424 Today for a free structural survey quote


Biggest disappointment with a Homebuyers Report

One of the biggest disappointments people have with homebuyers reports is they refer you onto other specialists and generally don't tend to include the cost of the problems.  In fact, we have said generally homebuyer reports don't tend to have costs.  We would say that they never have costs with regards to the problems that are found.  Homebuyer's reports don't list the very basis of the information you need to understand.  Not just what the problem is but how much it could cost you.

For example:

In the homebuyers report if dampness is found the homebuyers report doesn't normally state exactly where and it doesn't normally state how to resolve it other than to refer you to a damp proof specialist.

In our full structural surveys where dampness is found we state the cause and effect of the dampness as well as ways to resolve the dampness and anticipated costs.

For example:

The bucket effect dampness fully explained in a full structural survey

When surveying a Victorian house dampness was found, although Victorian properties require an element of dampness allowing the outer walls to get wet and dissipate the dampness.  The property surveyed had external walls painted with a plastic based paint rather than a more appropriate lime wash preventing the property from breathing and dissipating any dampness.

The bucket effect

Plastic based paint applied to a lime washed wall

In addition to the plastic based paint some re-pointing work had been carried out to the property using cement mortar rather than the more appropriate lime based mortar.  This action also stops the property from breathing and dissipating any dampness.

Cement pointing rather than lime based mortar and dampness

Mortar coming away

Internally a modern gypsum plaster had been applied to the walls, which stops the building from breathing.  Furthermore the cement floor covering added to the dampness problem too.

Full structural surveys detail work required whereas generally Homebuyers surveys do not

Recommendations to help to resolve some of the dampness issues, remembering Victorian properties have characteristic dampness

1. Removal of exterior plastic based paint with a period of time to allow the walls to dry out during the summer months.

2. Removal of internal plaster and replacement with an appropriate plaster for the age, type and style of property.

3. Removal of cement pointing and re-pointing work carried out with a lime based mortar and then a lime or water based paint applied to allow the walls to breathe.

Anticipated costs are included in a full structural survey whereas generally Homebuyers reports do not

Details of anticipated costs for the work required to help to resolve/improve dampness issues are always given in full structural surveys, which can be used to negotiate on the purchase price saving you money.

Please read our articles listed below on damp proof companies and damp proof specialists because they shouldn't be as specialist as the surveyor you have just employed.


Damp Proof Specialists, Talk to us First

Damp Surveying to a Different Standard

Dampness Defects Report


At the end of this article there are lots of other recommendations to damp proof articles we have written.  We really didn't realise that we had written so many damp proof articles but that is another problem and query area that people always ring us up about so we have written the articles to help people.


Homebuyers Surveys and National Surveying Companies

Having worked in large national surveying companies there tends to be many more valuers available than building surveyors.  The ratio in one company we worked in, and its one of the largest surveyor practices in the world, was almost 100 general practice valuation surveyors to one building surveyor.  This is why people tend to get persuaded into having a homebuyers report rather than a building surveyors full structural survey because these big companies have lots of valuation surveyors they need to keep busy.  We are sure that surveying companies wouldn't admit to this and indeed the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors RICS would be very unhappy if this was known.  This is what we found when we worked for large surveying practices.  This is only our opinion from what we have seen working in surveying practices for a long time.

Get a free, no obligation full structural survey quote today free phone 0800 298 5424

Building Surveys, Structural Surveys and Full Structural Surveys what are they?

Firstly, we need to say that many surveyors who are valuations surveyors otherwise known as general practice surveyors won't carry out building surveys or structural surveys.  Why?  It is simply because they don't feel they have the knowledge to carry out full structural surveys or will only carry them out if the economic climate forces them to.

Surveyors that are happy to carry out Homebuyers Reports but not carry out Structural Surveys

Most surveyors are however happy to carry out homebuyers reports on the same property because they know the report is limited and caveated. You need to be looking at what you want when you are buying a property, not what the surveyor wants. We must remind you if you haven't forgotten that buying a house is an expensive purchase. Houses are generally very expensive and we are sure you have read on other websites or been told by the estate agent that they are the most expensive purchase that we make. Remember that the building survey cost is only a very small percentage of what you are spending on the building. Whilst most buildings that we survey don't have major unsolvable problems you don't want to be in the small percentage that does. We would add, and we are sure you have read this elsewhere, that the building survey is a percentage of the amount of money that you are paying for the property and don't forget you will be paying interest on that too. It really is a false economy not to have a building survey.

Meet your surveyor whilst your full structural survey is being carried out

We would emphasise that we would always recommend you meet the building surveyor at the property. It really is important if you are buying a new house and as in most cases of people buying a new house you won't really have viewed the property for that long so it's well worth meeting the surveyor and having another look at the house.

So should I have a Homebuyers Report or a Building Survey?

We would say:-

If the property is old have a full structural survey.

If the property has been amended or altered have a full structural survey.

If you wish to carry out alterations, amendments or redesigning of the property have a full structural survey.

If you wish to meet the surveyor at the property have a full structural survey.

If you wish to know how much problems are likely to cost to solve have a full structural survey.

If you wish to know ways of solving the problems have a full structural survey.

You do need to make sure that the surveyor is experienced in looking at the sort of property that you want them to look at.  Also ensure that the surveyor regularly carries out full structural surveys.  We would always ask the surveyor to send an example copy of a similar building survey that they have carried out on that type of construction of building you are proposing to purchase.  One comment that we think is very prudent on the money saving expert website is it's the quality of the surveyor that you have carrying out the survey that is important so have a look at some of their old surveys and don't be talked into having a cheaper option of a homebuyers report.

Here are a few examples of our surveys:

We not only provide comprehensive full structural surveys but will help with Schedules of Condition and Building Reports too.







Schedule of Condition

Welwyn Garden City

Commercial building

Full structural survey


Ely semi detached house

Building Report


Grade II Listed house

Ask your surveyor to show you what their surveys look like - we believe our full structural surveys are the best money can buy

Just free phone 0800 298 5424 today and we will send you example surveys similar to the age, type and style of property you are considering purchasing


Here are some more articles on dampness that may help you:


Do you need a Damp Proof Course in an older property?

Damp Proof Courses what are these for?

Damp Meters



Independent Surveyors

If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a surveyor with regard to valuations, mortgages, mortgage companies, surveys, building surveys, structural reports, engineers reports/specific defects report, structural surveys, home buyers reports or any other property matters please contact 0800 298 5424 for a surveyor to give you a call back.


Commercial Property

If you have a commercial property, whether it is freehold or leasehold then sooner or later you may get involved with dilapidation claims. You may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at www.DilapsHelp.com and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site www.DisputesHelp.com .

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 put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

The contents of the web site are for general information only and are not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision.

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