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Survey level one: RICS Home Survey - Level 1

                                          General description of level one service


Choose this report if you’re buying or selling a conventional house, flat or bungalow built from common building materials and in reasonable condition. This service is less comprehensive than a level two or three service.


The focus is on making an objective assessment of the general condition of the main elements of a property. The inspection is not exhaustive, and no tests are undertaken.


There is, therefore, a risk that certain defects may not be found that would otherwise have been uncovered if testing and/or a more substantial inspection had been undertaken. You must accept this risk. Consequently, this service best suits conventional houses, bungalows and flats in a better condition.


A level one inspection of an unusual property or one in a poor condition is likely to result in a high number of recommendations for further inspections that many people would find disappointing. However, where I am concerned about a hidden problem or defect, I will identify these and what action you should take. This may often be further investigations.


                                                            The level one inspection


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

The surveyor will not remove secured access panels and/or lift insulation material, stored goods or other contents. The surveyor will visually inspect the parts of the roof structure and other features that can be seen from the access hatch. 

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. 

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, they should recommend further investigation. 

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 must report this and ask for further instructions.

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 should 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 surveyor will inform the client.

For level one, as a minimum include at least one on each elevation.


Roof space

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 visually inspect the parts of the roof structure and other features that can be seen from the access hatch.


In recent years, the lofts of many homes have been insulated with thick layers of thermal insulation. This may restrict what the surveyor 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 and will not lift hatches or look below the floor.


The surveyor will assess floors for excessive deflection by a ‘heel-drop’ test.


Furniture and occupiers’ possessions

The surveyor will not move furniture or possessions.


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

The surveyor will not test the service installations or appliances in any way and will not lift inspection chamber covers over the drains but will visually inspect an identified sample of the parts of the different service systems that can be seen.

The grounds

The surveyor will carry out a visual inspection of the grounds from within the boundaries of the subject property and where necessary, from adjoining public property.


In a level one inspections, the surveyor will carry out a cursory inspection of the grounds during a general walk around. The assessment will include external features relevant to the instruction and requests from the client.


The inspection will also include the inside and outside of all permanent outbuildings not attached to the main dwelling, where access is possible, relevant to the instruction and client requests.

The surveyor will also use appropriate methods and equipment to inspect a roof that is not visible from a window or another part of the building, and that is not more than three metres above ground level if it is safe and reasonable to do so.



                                                                   The level one report

The RICS Home Survey – Level 1 service includes: 

• a physical inspection of the property (see The inspection below) and
• a report based on the inspection (see The report below).  

The surveyor  who provides the RICS Home Survey – Level 1 service aims to:

• describe the part or element in enough detail so that it can be properly identified
• provide a clear and concise expression of the surveyor’s professional assessment of each part or element
• describe the condition of the part or element that justifies the surveyor’s assessment and
• help you gain an objective view of the condition of the property.  

Any extra services provided that are not covered by the terms and conditions of this service must be covered by a separate contract. 

This assessment should help you get an objective view of the condition of the property, make a purchase decision and, once in ownership, establish appropriate repair/improvement priorities. To achieve this, the surveyor will use a condition rating system (or explain the alternative methodology).

Condition ratings 
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 1 can be found on the RICS website here.

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