Survey level two: HomeBuyer Report (survey)
General description of level two service
This level of service is designed for people (who may be buyers, sellers and owners) who want a professional opinion of the property at an economic price.
The focus is on assessing the general condition of the main parts of a property.
Choose this report if you need more extensive information whilst buying or selling a conventional house, flat or bungalow, built from common building materials and in reasonable condition.
The focus is on assessing the general condition of the main elements of a property. This
intermediate level of service includes a more extensive visual inspection of the building, its services and grounds, but still without tests.
Concealed areas normally opened or used by the occupiers are inspected if it is safe to do so (typical examples include roof spaces, basements and cellars). The report objectively describes the condition of the different elements and provides an assessment of the relative importance of the defects/problems.
The level two 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 distinguish this from inspections at other levels of
The surveyor inspects the inside and outside of the main building and all permanent outbuildings, recording the construction and significant visible defects that are evident. This inspection is intended to cover as much of the property as is physically accessible. Where this i s not possible, an explanation is provided in the ‘Limitations on the inspection’ box in the relevant section of the report.
The surveyor does not force or open up the fabric of the building. This includes taking up fitted carpets, fitted floor coverings or floorboards; moving heavy furniture; removing the contents of cupboards, roof spaces, etc.; removing secured panels and/or hatches; or undoing electrical fittings.
If necessary, the surveyor carries out parts of the inspection when standing at ground level, from adjoining public property where accessible. This means the extent of the inspection will depend on a range of individual circumstances at the time of inspection, and the surveyor judges each case on an individual basis.
The surveyor uses equipment such as a damp meter, binoculars and torch, and uses a ladder for flat roofs and for hatches no more than 3m above level ground (outside) or floor surfaces (inside) if it is safe to do so.
If it is safe and reasonable to do so, the surveyor will enter the roof space and visually inspect the roof structure with attention paid to those parts vulnerable to deterioration and damage. Although the surveyor does not move or lift insulation material, stored goods or other contents.
The surveyor also carries out a desk-top study and makes oral enquiries for information about matters affecting the property.
When inspecting flats, the surveyor assesses the general condition of the outside surfaces of the building, as well as its access and communal areas (for example, shared hallways and staircases that lead directly to the subject flat) and roof spaces, but only if they are accessible from within and owned by the subject flat. The surveyor does not inspect drains, lifts, fire alarms and security systems.
External wall systems are not inspected. If the surveyor has specific concerns about these items, further investigation will be recommended before making a legal commitment to purchase.
Dangerous materials, contamination and environmental issues
The surveyor does not make any enquiries about contamination or other environmental dangers. If the surveyor suspects a problem, this will be reported.
The surveyor may assume that no harmful or dangerous materials have been used in the construction, and does not have a duty to justify making this assumption. However, if the inspection shows that such materials have been used, the surveyor will report this.
The surveyor does not carry out an asbestos inspection and does not act as an asbestos inspector when inspecting properties that may fall within The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (‘CAR 2012’). However, the report will properly emphasise the suspected presence of asbestos containing materials if the inspection identifies that possibility.
With flats, the surveyor assumes that there is a ‘dutyholder’ (as defined in CAR 2012), and that there is an asbestos register and an effective management plan in place, which does not present a significant risk to health or need any immediate payment. The surveyor does not consult the dutyholder.
Inspection includes opening of windows only where permission has been given, any keys/ locks are available, and it is safe to do so. Where the inspection of windows is restricted, the report will note this.
For level two, the surveyor will include one on each elevation and one of each different type of window where there is a variety.
The surveyor will carry out an inspection of roof space that is not more than three metres above floor level using a ladder if it is safe and reasonable to do so.
The surveyor will not remove secured access panels and/or lift insulation material, stored goods or other contents.
The surveyor will enter the roof space and visually inspect the roof structure if it is safe and reasonable to do so, with particular attention paid to those parts vulnerable to deterioration and damage. In these places, a moisture resistance meter will be used where considered appropriate.
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.
The surveyor will closely inspect the surfaces of exposed floors but will not lift carpets, floor coverings or floorboards, or move furniture.
The surveyor will assess floors for excessive deflection by a ‘heel-drop’ test.
Where floors have unfixed access hatches or floorboards, where appropriate, the surveyor will look in any spaces below the floor by an inverted ‘head and shoulder’ inspection only. The surveyor will not enter the sub-floor area.
Furniture and occupiers’ possessions
The surveyor will not move furniture or possessions.
Inspection chambers and underground drainage
The surveyor will lift accessible inspection chamber covers to drains or septic tanks and visually inspect them, where safe to do so and without causing damage, and visually inspect the chamber (s)
Services (for example, heating and hot and cold water)
The surveyor does not perform or comment on design calculations or test the service installations or appliances in any way. For a level two inspection, the surveyor will visually inspect all parts of the different service systems that can be seen within the normal course of the inspection.
The surveyor will visually inspect the garden/grounds during a general walk around, and, where necessary and appropriate, from adjoining public property.
This 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.
Where the surveyor thinks the condition of these features may affect your purchase decision, the surveyor will describe these problems thoroughly. Examples include retaining walls in danger of collapsing, deeply sunken paths or driveways, dilapidated boundary walls or fences, and so on.
The surveyor will inspect 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.
Other issues will typically include listed building/conservation areas matters and unauthorised development
(including sustainable drainage, safety issues, invasive species, automatic gates, and so on).
The surveyor will use a ladder to inspect a roof that is not visible from a window or another part of the building that is not more than three metres above ground level if it is safe and reasonable to do so.
The level two report
For each part of the building, the report will:
• describe it in sufficient detail so it can be properly identified
• describe its condition and explain the surveyors judgment
• include comments where the surveyor thinks the building will need more frequent and/or more costly maintenance and repairs than would normally be expected
•broadly outline the scope of the likely remedial work and what needs to be done by whom and by when
• concisely explain the implications of not addressing the identified problems.
• provide a clear and concise expression of my professional assessment of each part. To achieve this, the surveyor will use a condition rating system (or explain the alternative methodology).
The surveyor gives condition ratings to the main parts (the ‘elements’) of the main building, garage and some outside elements. The condition ratings are described as follows:
• R – Documents we may suggest you request before you sign contracts.
• Condition rating 3 – Defects that are serious and/or need to be repaired, replaced or investigated urgently. Failure to do so could risk serious safety issues or severe long-term damage to your property. Written quotations for repairs should be obtained prior to legal commitment to purchase.
• Condition rating 2 – Defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered to be either serious or urgent. The property must be maintained in the normal way.
• Condition rating 1 – No repair is currently needed. The property must be maintained in the normal way.
• NI – Elements not inspected.
The surveyor notes in the report if it was not possible to check any parts of the property that the inspection would normally cover. If the surveyor is concerned about these parts, the report tells you about any further investigations that are needed.
A full description of the RICS Home Survey - Level 2 can be found on the RICS website here.