Q. What is the difference between the new Homebuyer's Report & the old Homebuyers Survey & Valuation?

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A. What has happened here is that in July, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors launched a revised version of the Homebuyer’s Survey & Valuation, now called a Homebuyer’s Report. This remains the intermediate level of survey – much more thorough than the basic valuation, but less detailed as a full building survey. However, it has been substantially redesigned in order to provide more information in a clearer, more easily-understood format.

Together with a full description of the property, when it was built, the type of construction, and confirmation of the details contained in the Energy Performance Certificate, the new reports now feature a system of standardised “Condition Ratings,” ranked 1-3, which are applied to each of the various areas covered – from the condition of the roof, walls and woodwork to the state of the electrics and drainage.

This system makes it easier to tell at a glance the general condition of a property. Thus, a “1” means that no repairs are currently needed, but normal maintenance should be carried out as and when required. A “2” means that defects have been identified that require repair or replacement, but which aren’t classified as being urgent or serious. Finally, a “3” means that there are serious defects which need to be repaired, replaced or investigated in more detail as a matter of urgency.

In addition, the new Homebuyer’s Report also looks into any legal issues relating to extensions or major structural alterations which may have been made, as well as providing a detailed valuation and insurance assessment.

As far as price is concerned, this varies - depending on factors like the size, age and value of the property. Nevertheless, a typical mid-range report should probably cost in the region of £350-£450 – which makes it extremely good value in terms of all the additional detail and the extra peace of mind it brings.

At present, not all chartered surveyors offer the new-style report, as there is a six month transition period where the original Homebuyer’s Survey & Valuation can still be used. After 31st December, however, all reports will have to be in the new format.