So you’ve spotted a property that looks like a great investment. Before going ahead though, you’ll obviously need to get a survey completed. But which kind?

According to RICS (the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors), the type of survey you get should be based on the property and not the cost, simply because some properties need looking into more than others.

At an average cost of £500, a full Building Survey may seem a bit expensive, but the thousands of pounds-maybe even tens of thousands of pounds-it can save you in the long run is definitely well worth the initial investment if it prevents you from buying a property with the potential for dry rot or subsidence etc.

Another bonus of getting a survey done is that you can ask the seller to take into consideration the cost of any repairs that need carried out by lowering the asking price. To help you decide which type of property survey to go for, here’s a quick run down of the different types currently available, together with an idea of when you shoulduse them:

Home Condition Report (around £250)

This is the most basic type of survey, and the least expensive. It can identify anything that needs repaired and looked at urgently, such as dampness or crumbling masonry. It can also point out possible legal problems. This is the type of survey that’s best for new builds, with which you’d expect to have fewer structural and cosmetic problems.

Homebuyer Report (minimum £400)

A more detailed survey, but still not the most comprehensive around, a Homebuyer Report should be used on a typical house or apartment that you wouldn’t expect to find too many serious problems in. As well as an internal and external inspection you’ll also receive advice on ongoing maintenance issues. If you choose to have a valuation alongside the survey then you’ll learn the cost of what the house would typically fetch on the open market at that time, allowing you to reduce your offer if the survey says it’s too much.

Building Survey (from £400 up to £500)

This is a detailed survey and the type that should be used for older properties, listed buildings, refurbs or any property you suspect may have potential dry rot and/or structural difficulties etc. It uses a traffic light system to identify the most urgent and major defects. With this survey you’ll also receive advice on repairs and given maintenance suggestions.

Building or Full Structural Survey (£600)

The most comprehensive type of inspection available, this provides all of what you can expect to receive in the more basic surveys and includes the surveyor’s own personal opinions about the state of the property. He or she should also be pointing out any potential dangers and future difficulties which may be lurking within the property.

Snagging Survey (around £300)

Provided for new builds only, a snagging survey is carried out by a surveyor not connected to the developers and can identify problems with plumbing, joinery etc. You can then ask the developers to fix these prior to your signing off the purchase.

Mortgage Valuation Survey (from £150)

Required by the mortgage lender to verify that the property you’ve just bought is indeed worth the money, this type of survey doesn’t advise on maintenance or repairs. The price you’ll pay for it depends entirely on the size and cost of the property in question. It gives you the opportunity to haggle with a vendor if the property is priced at a higher value than similar properties in the same area. Sometimes, a survey is offered by the lender as part of the mortgage package, which can often prove a good saving.

How to find a surveyor

Once you’ve decided on the type of survey to get, the next step is to find someone who’ll carry it out. At Sourced, we always recommend going through RICS to find a qualified surveyor who lives nearby (so is familiar with the type of properties in the area). It’s also a good idea to find a professional surveyor who specializes in the type of property you’re looking at i.e. flat, refurb etc.

Another reason for using a RICS-registered surveyor is because he or she is required to have indemnity insurance. This means that a fault which wasn’t picked up by the survey may be financed through the surveyor’s insurance.

Find out more about investing in a local property in Birmingham from our local representative via