Survey level three: RICS Building Survey

                                          General description of level three service

This level of service is for people who are seeking a professional opinion about the condition of a property and is based on a detailed assessment. Therefore, my inspection is more extensive than for other levels of service and I will spend a considerable time at the property.


I will closely inspect all parts of the dwelling and I will assess the interdependence of the different parts of the structure, especially the way in which the roof, walls and floors act together.


Where I am concerned about a hidden problem or defect, I will try to identify these and explain the risk they pose and what action you should take. Recommendations for further investigations will usually be the exception.


This level of service will suit any domestic residential property in any condition.


                                                            The level three inspection


The extent of an inspection will depend on a range of specific circumstances (including health and safety considerations). The following critical aspects may help you distinguish this from inspections at other levels of service.



I will attempt to open the majority of the windows.


Roof spaces 

I will carry out an inspection of roof spaces that are not more than three metres above floor level using a ladder if it is safe and reasonable to do so.


I will enter the roof space if it is accessible and visually inspect the roof structure with particular attention paid to those parts vulnerable to deterioration and damage.


Although I will not move thermal insulation, I will lift small corners if I consider it safe so its thickness, type and the nature of the underlying ceiling can be identified and assessed.


Where I have the permission of the owner, I will move a small number of lightweight possessions so a more thorough inspection can take place.


In recent years, the lofts of many homes have been insulated with thick layers of thermal insulation. Usually, it is not safe to move across this material and this may restrict what I can look at in the roof space.




I will closely inspect the surfaces of exposed floors and I will lift the corners of any loose and unfitted carpets and other floor coverings where practicable.


I will assess all floors for excessive deflection. Where the boards are lifted, I will look in the space beneath by way of an inverted ‘head and shoulder’ inspection. If it is safe to do so, I will enter the under-floor area to carry out a more thorough inspection as long as the access panel is big enough, the space beneath the floor is deep enough, and it is safe to do so.


Furniture and occupiers’ possessions

I will move lightweight, easily moveable, non-fitted items where practicable, safe and where the

owner/occupier gives permission.


Services (for example, heating and hot and cold water)

I will not perform or comment on design calculations, or test the service installations or appliances but I will observe their normal operation in everyday use. This usually means:


  • operating lights and extract fans where appropriate and if the electrical power is on at the time at the time of the survey (It may have been turned off by others for safety reasons).

  • asking the owner/occupier to switch on the heating appliances/system.

  • where I consider it appropriate to the assessment of the service system, turning on water taps, filling and emptying sinks, baths, bidets and basins, and flushing toilets to observe the performance of visible pipework where the water is turned on at the time of the survey.

  • lifting accessible inspection chamber covers (where it is safe to do so), identifying the nature of the connections and observing water flow where a water supply is available. On dry days, this may involve pouring water into open gullies so drainage layouts can be identified.


I will advise you that further tests and inspections will be required if the owner/occupier (if present) does not provide evidence of appropriate installation and/or maintenance, or the client requires assurance as to their condition, capability and safety.


The grounds

I will carry out a thorough visual inspection of the grounds, and, where necessary and appropriate, from

adjoining public property.


My assessment will include such external features as retaining walls, gardens, drives, paths, terraces, patios, steps, hard-standings, dropped kerbs, gates, trees, boundary walls, fences, non-permanent outbuildings, rights of way, and so on.


My inspection will also include the inside and outside of all permanent outbuildings not attached to the main dwelling. This includes garages, summer houses, substantial greenhouses, follies and leisure buildings, but not the leisure facilities inside, for example swimming pools, saunas, fitness gyms, and so on.


Specific defective features and other matters associated with the grounds can be costly to resolve and may affect your purchase decision. Consequently, I will fully account for these. Examples include assessing retaining walls in danger of collapsing, deeply sunken paths or driveways, dilapidated boundary walls or fences and the legal and insurance implications.


                                                                   The level three report

My report will reflect the thoroughness and detail of the investigation and I will:


• describe the form of construction and materials used for each part of the building in detail and outline their performance characteristics. This is especially important for older and historic buildings

• describe obvious defects and state the identifiable risk of those that may be hidden

• outline remedial options and, if I consider it to be significant, explain the likely consequences if the repairs are not done

• propose a timescale for the necessary work including recommendations for further investigation prior to commitment to purchase (only where appropriate and necessary)

• discuss future maintenance of the property and identify those elements that may result in more frequent and/ or more costly maintenance and repairs than would normally be expected

• identify the nature of risks of the parts that have not been inspected.



I will also make it clear that you should obtain any further advice and quotations I recommend before you enter into a legal commitment to buy the property.