In response to calls for more clarity around property surveys, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has introduced a new home survey standard.
From March 2021, the new RICS home survey standard will become mandatory for all RICS professionals undertaking home surveys.
The organisation hopes that this will bring greater consistency and transparency when it comes to residential surveys. As a result, consumers will have a better understanding of the different surveys available, and which is right for them.
CURRENT RICS SURVEYS
At present, there are three types of RICS surveys that adhere to a set of RICS standards. These start with the most basic, which is a Condition Report. This is followed by the Home Buyers Report, which can be undertaken with or without a valuation.
The most comprehensive report is a Building Survey, which is generally undertaken on larger or older properties or if significant work is planned.
THE NEW RICS HOME SURVEY STANDARD
The new survey standard sets out mandatory requirements for all RICS residential sector professionals, and its purpose is to bring about consistency and improvements on the current process.
It’s hoped the new survey standard will be easier for buyers to understand and offer better protection for both buyers and sellers. To achieve this, the process, as well as the language used, has been simplified.
BENCHMARKED AGAINST DEFINED LEVELS
Surveyors must follow benchmarks set against a defined level when implementing the new home survey standard.
Level 1 offers an objective report on the condition of a property at an economic price and is based on a visual inspection. The survey identifies each element of the building, services and grounds and reports on its condition. Any obvious risks to the building, people or grounds, plus any legal issues are pointed out. But there is no testing of the building fabric or services, and the report is brief and does not include advice on repairs or ongoing maintenance.
- Level 1 is suitable for standard properties but not for anything more complex.
- Level 2 is a more detailed visual inspection than level 1. It does not include testing of the building fabric or services but does offer advice on repairs and maintenance.
- Level 3 provides a much more detailed report and includes an extensive visual inspection that covers concealed areas such as roof spaces and basements (if they’re safe to inspect). The report also covers the form of construction and the materials used for different parts of the property.A level 3 report is for more complex or older properties. It describes the condition of the house and provides an assessment of any problems or defects found. If work is required, it will give the scope of this and the risks of non-repair.
MORE FLEXIBILITY FOR SURVEYORS
While these levels provide defined minimum guidelines for surveyors, there is the flexibility for them to adapt to market changes and client needs.
Therefore, the terms of each report should be made clear at the point of engagement, and any adaptions to the normal service level be agreed in the terms.
Ana Bajri, RICS Global Property Standards Associate Director, said: “The overhaul of home surveys with the implementation of our new Home Survey Standard in 2021 will bring vital standardisation and clarity to the benefit of consumers and will ensure RICS professionals work even more effectively in meeting the changing needs of the market.”
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