Mortgage valuation v building survey: the differences

Before buying, you need to be sure that your future home is structurally sound, and that your repairs budget will suffice in the event of defects being discovered. Both mortgage valuations and building surveys address the state of the property you are buying. Here we explain how they differ.

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Valuation v building survey

A mortgage valuation is a cursory check designed to satisfy your lender that the property you’re buying is worth the price you are paying for it prior to approving your mortgage (some lenders even carry out a remote ‘desktop’ assessment). It’s not for your benefit, and won’t highlight structural issues like dry rot or damp.

By contrast, a survey is a full-length property health-check that will explain your building’s physical condition and flag up any potential problems. While one in five buyers relies on a valuation alone, it is worth investing in a detailed building survey for peace of mind and because it could yield big savings later on.

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Survey choices

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Condition Report

This report employs a traffic light scheme to note the property’s condition. It suits conventional homes and new builds. It does not provide a valuation.

RICS Homebuyer Report

This property analysis uncovers most issues – caveats may be issued limiting the surveyor’s liability in some areas. It is suited to conventional properties younger than 150 years old. Some reports give a valuation.

RICS Building Survey

This detailed report gives a full assessment – internal and external – of the property. It highlights maintenance and repairs. It suits older properties and those requiring major works.

If you need a home buyers survey Essex offers firms including

If you’re a first-time buyer, there is some useful information here

Benefits of a survey

Surveys are visual inspections of properties. You may accompany the surveyor to talk through what he finds. If problems are discovered, you could renegotiate on price or even decide to pull out altogether. Alternatively, you may need to commission further reports on defects such as timber decay, damp or insect attacks.

You don’t have to get a survey done by law. If you are buying a new build under warranty, you may not need one.


Valuations cost around £150, while survey prices range from £250 to £750 and upwards.