Introduced in September 2021, the updated Home Survey Standard is a best practice benchmark for RICS professionals and surveyors. With the aim of increasing consistency, transparency, and competency across all residential surveying in the UK, it is the single standard for condition-based home surveys. It specifies mandatory requirements for the undertaking of property surveys to ensure the satisfaction of the client’s needs and the reassurance of the public.
The RICS Home Survey standard is of benefit to both surveyors and home buyers. They give clarification on the appropriate level of survey, with a unified set of standards for convenient reference. With a clear report structure and simplified language, survey results can be communicated for the homebuyer’s understanding. Greater transparency in the communication of the survey results makes for increased confidence and a better chance of completing property transactions.
What is a RICS Home Survey?
There are three levels of the RICS Home survey which may be deemed suitable depending on the property type and requirements.
All levels of reports have the traffic light rating system as well as the N/I to indicate those areas not inspected. The traffic light system is as follows:
- Red – defects that are serious and/or need to be repaired, replaced, or investigated as a matter of urgency
- Amber – defects that will soon have to be repaired or replaced, but which aren’t considered serious or urgent
- Green – elements of the property which don’t have to be repaired.
RICS Home Survey Level 1
Previously referred to as the Condition Report, the Home Survey Level 1 is a surface-level property inspection for the identification of any defects and damage. The least comprehensive and least expensive survey, it is best suited to properties built within the last five years.
The following elements will be inspected during a level 1 survey:
- One window on each elevation
- General roof spaces less than three metres above floor level using a ladder, where it is safe and reasonable to do so
- Exposed floors, with a ‘heel drop’ test to establish any excessive deflection
- Sample service system parts, where they can be seen.
There should also be a cursory visual inspection of the grounds, with the assessment of external features following the client’s instruction and request.
As with the more comprehensive surveys, the surveyor should produce a report highlighting their findings. This should provide the prospective buyer with an understanding of the condition of the property so that they can make an informed decision on serious or urgent repairs and on the maintenance of the issues reported. Given the restricted nature of this survey, a recommendation may be made for further investigation.
RICS Home Survey Level 2
This mid-level RICS survey is typically recommended as the best choice for properties in reasonable condition. Encompassing all of the elements covered in a level 1 survey, it also includes some added extras. It should highlight any issues likely to affect the property’s value, with the surveyor expected to give advice on repairs and maintenance.
The following elements will be assessed during a level 2 survey:
- One window on each elevation, and one of each type of window where there is a variety
- Inverted ‘head and shoulders’, where sub-floor voids are accessible
- All service system parts that can be seen during the normal course of the survey
- Grounds and neighbouring public property, where access can be gained.
The roof space may be entered for a visual inspection of the roof structure, focusing on those parts that are vulnerable to deterioration and damage, where it is safe and reasonable to do so. The surveyor will also be expected to highlight issues such as damp and subsidence, indicating any breaches of current building regulations.
Additionally, there is the option of having a level 2 RICS homebuyers report produced with a market valuation, which is commonly referred to as a Level 2 + Valuation.
RICS Home Survey Level 3
The level 3 survey involves a more comprehensive inspection of the property’s structure and condition. Recommended for older properties built using unique and uncommon methods, it may also be a good choice where there are plans to carry out major works or where there are significant structural concerns.
The following elements will also be inspected during a level 3 survey:
- Boundary walls, fences, permanent outbuildings, and areas in common (shared) use external to the property
- General outside surface condition as well as any access and communal areas, when inspecting flats.
Taking a more hands-on approach, the RICS surveyor will investigate the attic and underneath the floorboards. Enquiries may also be made about contamination and other environmental dangers, with the recommendation of further investigation where appropriate. The resulting report should highlight any defects and include advice on repairs and maintenance.
What is the RICS Home Survey Standard?
RICS Registered Surveyors are expected to conduct the three levels of the Home Survey, as well as the level 2 survey plus valuation, in accordance with the specifications set out in the Home Survey Standard of 2019. This standard sets out the requirements that should be met in undertaking each survey, including what information should be included, how the survey should be conducted, and what qualifications the surveyor should have.
By adhering to the overarching standard, surveyors are able to provide prospective home buyers with a sense of trust and confidence in making decisions about their investment in the property.
Benefits of the new standard and three-level survey system include:
- A clear report structure
- An impartial assessment of a property from RICS, updated to adhere to the Home survey standard and ensure that maintains the benchmark for best practice
- A new design and name to make it easier for the consumer to understand
- A cost-benefit to the new system as once a member has their licence, there will be no further charge to publish reports on RICS ProForms.
Surveyors are able to save considerable amounts of time and minimise the risk of reporting errors by digitising survey processes that would otherwise have to be completed by hand. As a registered RICS Tech Partner providing compliant survey reports, the user-friendly Property Inspect app enables the collection of comprehensive property information, with pictures and videos being embedded for the streamlining of the reporting process. Offering premade document templates, including those for the three RICS Home surveys, Property Inspect makes it easier than ever to compile and file inspection reports.
The powerful template library provides access to pre-configured RICS home survey reports, which can be customised depending on the nature of the survey required. This means that a surveyor can quickly bring up the appropriate template for the job, conduct the inspection, attach videos, add and anotate photographs, detailed site notes, and more – saving time and repetition.
Surveys and reports can be scheduled, tracked, and managed using the Live Dashboard, with team members and clients granted bespoke access to accept bookings, schedule appointments, and download completed reports. This allows for greater transparency of information, with seamless coordination throughout the surveying and home-buying process.
A live and historic timeline of events, notifications, and reports can be maintained within the Property Inspect app. Users are also able to set up alerts and view summaries of any reports that have been generated. With all of the information being securely stored on the cloud, you can have confidence in your ability to maintain effortless compliance.
Lines of communication can be maintained between all of the stakeholders, with the Property Inspect team also on hand to provide real-time support and guidance via the instant messaging platform. This makes for a better connected and more streamlined process for the satisfaction of surveyors and home buyers.
With so many more survey benefits and features to be explored, sign up for a free trial now and digitise your RICS Home Survey Reports with Property Inspect.