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What is a Comprehensive Building Survey?

Are you contemplating whether a Comprehensive Building Assessment, also known as a Level 3 RICS Survey, is the right choice for your property? This comprehensive guide aims to demystify what a Level 3 Survey involves, from the elements it covers to the financial commitment it requires. Whether you own a heritage-listed structure, a property older than 50 years, or are planning significant modifications, this guide will help you make an informed decision.

What is a Comprehensive Building Assessment (Level 3 Survey)?

Building Surveyor

Formerly referred to as a Structural Analysis or simply a Full Building Survey, the Level 3 RICS Survey offers an exhaustive review of a residential property. It’s the most thorough survey option available and delivers an in-depth assessment of the property’s overall state.

The report from a Level 3 Survey will outline the status of each component of the residence, pinpoint any flaws, identify their likely origins, indicate the urgency for repairs, suggest maintenance alternatives, and may even provide estimated repair costs.

These Level 3 Surveys are performed by certified Building Assessors. It’s crucial to verify that your chosen assessor is accredited by RICS, as they establish the guidelines for the profession, ensuring you receive impartial, expert counsel from qualified specialists. Level 3 Surveys are typically recommended for:

  • Heritage-listed Structures
  • Properties older than half a century
  • Unconventionally constructed buildings, irrespective of their age
  • Properties you plan to remodel or alter
  • Buildings that have undergone significant modifications

What's Included?

A comprehensive Level 3 Survey encompasses:

  • A complete structural examination
  • An exhaustive survey report
  • An optional property appraisal (if explicitly stated by the assessor)

The survey scrutinizes all observable and reachable sections of the structure, such as the roof, walls, flooring, windows, doors, chimneys, basements, garages, and auxiliary structures. Assessors are legally obligated to identify and report any severe issues with the property, actively seeking out potential complications and structural faults during their inspection.

This involves checking inside storage spaces and manholes, as well as evaluating the utilities. However, it won’t delve into sealed or hidden portions of the structure, like enclosed attic spaces.

You have the option to request the inclusion of specific areas to address any particular concerns you might have about the property. Unlike the HomeBuyer Assessment (Level 2 Survey), the Level 3 Survey report doesn’t adhere to a standardized format, allowing the assessor to tailor the survey according to your requirements.

If you desire a property valuation as part of your survey, you’ll need to inform the assessor. Moreover, if the assessor you choose is endorsed by your mortgage provider, their survey can serve as a substitute for a lender’s appraisal.

Elements Covered in a Comprehensive Level 3 Building Survey

building survey

Here are the components that a Comprehensive Level 3 Building Assessment typically encompasses:

  • Major and minor flaws and their potential implications
  • Findings from moisture tests conducted on walls
  • Modifications made to load-bearing walls
  • Unauthorized structural changes
  • Existence of hazardous substances like asbestos
  • Indicators of ground shifting
  • Deterioration to brickwork and roofing
  • Timber damage
  • Proximity of large trees to the premises
  • Issues like woodworm and dry rot affecting timber
  • Status of existing moisture barriers, insulation, and non-evaluated drainage systems
  • Details about construction materials and any pertinent technical data
  • Suggestions for additional property evaluations

However, the report generally won’t delve into specifics regarding heating systems or electrical installations. If needed, your assessor can usually coordinate with specialists to evaluate these areas.

Completing a Level 3 Building Assessment may take a full day, and you might have to wait up to two weeks to receive the final document. Different assessors can provide timelines for report delivery, so if you’re pressed for time, make sure to communicate that.

The final document will encapsulate the findings and may recommend additional specialized assessments if needed. While a Level 3 Assessment is pricier compared to Level 1 or 2 Assessments, such as a basic Condition Report, it could potentially save you a significant amount of money by uncovering hidden issues with the property.

The Comprehensive Level 3 Building Assessment Report

building surveyer

Upon completion of the assessment, your assessor will generate a conclusive report. This will disclose any significant and minor issues discovered during the inspection. The report will delineate the problems, their origins, suggest further evaluations, provide repair cost estimates, and outline the potential consequences if the issues are left unaddressed.

Financial Aspects of a Comprehensive Level 3 Building Survey

The price for a Level 3 Assessment can range between £450 and £1,400. The final cost is influenced by factors such as the type, size, and geographical location of the property. To get the most value, it’s advisable to compare quotes from multiple assessors.

Surveys can be a financial boon when purchasing a home, but what’s the typical expenditure, and how can you ensure you’re securing a favorable deal? Understanding the value you’re getting for your investment and the market rate is crucial. Comparing offerings from different providers can also help you land the most cost-effective option.

What's the Financial Commitment for a Property Survey?

What's the Standard Fee for a Surveyor?

The cost is contingent on the kind of survey you require and the dimensions of the real estate in question. The more comprehensive the analysis and the larger the residence, the more time the surveyor will allocate for the evaluation.

What's the Price Range for a HomeBuyers Assessment (Level 2)?

Also referred to as a Level 2 RICS Assessment, a HomeBuyers Survey is suitable for properties younger than a century or those in fairly good shape. The report employs a color-coded system to highlight issues, areas for improvement, and sections without problems.

Surveyors typically allocate between one to two hours for the inspection before drafting the report. They are generally open to discussing the findings over the phone for any clarifications.

The expense for a HomeBuyers Survey (Level 2) usually falls between £350 and £900, fluctuating based on the property’s size, valuation, and age.

What's the Cost for a Comprehensive Building Assessment (Level 3)?

Also known as a Level 3 RICS Assessment, this is a more thorough option and is advised for older properties or those that have undergone or are planned for renovations. It is the pricier and more exhaustive choice.

The average cost for a Comprehensive Building Assessment hovers between £450 and £1400, influenced by factors like property size, worth, and age.

You are essentially investing in an elaborate report, which may require the surveyor to spend additional time examining various components. The duration for the surveyor’s stay can range from approximately 2 to 5 hours, followed by a detailed report and further explanations if the client has concerns.

What About Additional Valuations?

While valuations are often a standard feature in a HomeBuyers Survey, adding one to a Comprehensive Building Assessment usually costs around £75.

It’s important to note that a surveyor’s valuation differs from a mortgage lender’s. If you’re uncertain about the seller’s pricing, adding a valuation can offer market-appropriate pricing insights and flag potential future expenses.

Are There Additional Expenses Involved?

Your assessor may suggest consulting with specialized experts for specific aspects that warrant deeper scrutiny. After all, assessors aren’t structural engineers, plumbers, or electricians. They may advise you to seek specialized opinions to ensure you’re fully informed about the property’s condition.

The decision to act on these recommendations is entirely up to you. However, should major issues be discovered in these specialized areas, the onus will be on you, not the certified assessor.

What Variables Affect the Cost of a Property Survey?

The expense of a property survey can vary depending on several factors such as the property’s market value, dimensions, and state of repair. If the surveyor faces challenges in inspecting certain areas or discovers intricate issues, this could drive up the price. In essence, the more labor-intensive the evaluation and the subsequent report generation, the greater the financial outlay will be.

In simpler terms, the more expansive the property, the longer the surveyor will require for a thorough review, which in turn will elevate your financial investment.

How to Obtain the Most Cost-Effective Property Survey?

That’s the easy bit! Leverage our instant-quote feature to contrast pricing from local surveyors accredited by RICS for both HomeBuyer Evaluations (with or without property valuations) and In-Depth Building Assessments. You’ll get as many as four quotations and have the opportunity to peruse their reviews prior to making your choice.

Typical Costs for Different Types of Surveys

  • Basic Property Review (Level 1 Survey): £350 – £750
  • HomeBuyer Evaluation (Level 2 Survey): £350 – £850
  • In-Depth Building Assessment (Level 3 Survey): £450 – £1,400

In the context of Scottish properties, the dynamics are somewhat distinct. Here, the seller is obligated to obtain the survey and make it available to interested buyers. The standard expense for a Scottish Home Report fluctuates between roughly £350 and £900, depending on the property’s square footage.

Building Survey: The Final Thought

building surveyor

In summary, a Comprehensive Building Assessment or Level 3 Survey is an exhaustive evaluation that goes beyond surface-level checks. While it may come with a higher price tag, ranging from £400 to £1,350, the depth of the analysis could potentially save you from costly future repairs. Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, understanding the full scope of a Level 3 Survey allows you to make a well-informed decision. So, before you take the plunge, compare quotes, understand what’s included, and weigh the potential benefits against the costs. Your property is a significant investment; make sure you know it inside and out.

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