Quite a few years ago the RICS started to realise that one of the reasons many people did not get a survey was they were confused about what a survey actually was. Almost every surveyor had their own way of doing a survey and their own formats for the reports. The RICS also found a huge range in the quality between surveys.
The solution they came up with was to standardise the type of survey and provide specific guidance on how they should be carried out.
RICS currently have three levels of survey:
Level 1 – Condition Report
Level 2 – Homebuyers Report
Level 3 – Building survey
The aim was to increase quality and ensure buyers knew exactly what they were getting. They are great aims and something I fully support but even a look at the names they choose shows where they started to go wrong. The first two are not even called surveys! This certainly does not help to reduce confusion.
The other problem is that there is no set format for each of these reports so each surveyor is free to use any format they like. When you add the fact that surveyors do not have to uses these types of report you are basically back where you started with almost every surveyor producing their own type of survey in their own way.
Across certain sections of the industry this is seen as a bad thing but over the years I have started to realise there is a reason why each surveyor does things their own way. A good independent surveyor knows their area, they know their clients and they know what works.
When you combine this very traditional approach with modern technology and good customer service you get a very good survey and a happy buyer who know what they need to know about the property they are buying.
As for whether it is important to understand the type of survey you are getting my view is that is probably more important to understand the type of surveyor you are using! Speak to your surveyor, ask them all the questions you want to ask and always remember it is their job to help you understand the process.
I am proud to be an independent surveyor, that I am able to provide the surveys in a way that suits my clients and offer them the best possible service.