top of page

What is a Homebuyers Report and Why Do I Need One?

At McCallums, understanding what report you are getting for your property is important. We want you to know what the report is about, as well as selecting the right report for your needs and property. In this article, we discuss what a homebuyers report is and why you need one.

If you have any questions about a property survey or report, feel free to get in touch with us here.

Anchor 1
Anchor 2

What is a Homebuyers Report?

A homebuyers report is similar to a building survey. However, a building survey is more comprehensive. Generally speaking, a homebuyers report takes place on homes that are in a reasonable condition. It consists of visual checks throughout the home and outdoor areas. A surveyor then writes a report on any issues they find that could cause or are causing damage to the property. Such as damp or subsidence. Then, you’ll get advice on how you can fix any problems they find.

A homebuyers report is generally ideal for properties that are less than 100 years old. As well as this, the property should be in a reasonable condition, as far as you can tell. And it should be made with common building materials. Hence, a more comprehensive building survey is more useful for older or unusual properties. However, it’s your choice which survey option you go for.

Essentially, a homebuyer’s report offers you valuable advice on several factors that you may not have thought about.

Perhaps you are just about to buy a property and are due to spend money on the biggest purchase of your life. It’s worth getting that right. A report can highlight any structural problems on the building and offer you advice on how to get repairs.

Additionally, a survey can resolve any potential disputes over the boundary of your property, what belongs to you, and what belongs to your neighbour.

Potentially, it can save you thousands of pounds in the long run, and it’s better to pay a small amount now for your peace of mind.

Things Included in the Report

There are 3 main types of building survey. Firstly, there is the condition report, or survey level 1. This is the most basic and cheapest survey. Secondly, there is a homebuyers report or level 2, which is generally the most popular and lastly, there is a more detailed building survey.

So what is included in a homebuyers report?

Obviously, it includes more detail than a level 1 survey. The homebuyers report will highlight any major visual problems such as obvious rot or subsidence. It’s worth bearing in mind here that the surveyor will not be checking behind any furniture, lifting floorboards, or drilling holes. Hence, any report will detail the main visual checks only. The surveyor will only be able to comment on what is accessible.

There are two types of homebuyer reports. You have the option to choose the survey on its own, which includes the visual checks and advice including how any defects will affect the value of the property. Or you can choose the survey with valuation. This includes all of the above, plus a market valuation and insurance rebuild costs.

A homebuyers report takes place by a specialist in residential surveys and includes practical information. It includes a visual inspection of all major indoor features including ceilings, roof, walls, and bathrooms. As well as permanent outdoor buildings including roofing, pipes, gutters, walls, windows, and doors. A surveyor will also inspect the heating, drainage, electric, gas, or oil and water services. They will also provide an energy efficiency rating. You can even get information on the broadband speed, damp assessment, and any boundary issues.

Time it takes

A surveyor will spend around 2-4 hours assessing the property and filling in the report. Most surveyors are happy to talk the report through with you as well.

When the report is returned to you, you’ll notice a traffic light system that allows you to see the condition of your property at a glance. Hence, if red is on your report, it means the property has serious defects and requires urgent repair. Orange means that repair work needs to take place shortly but isn’t currently serious. Therefore green means that no repairs are currently required and the building is in good general condition.


Issues that you May See on the Report

A property survey can highlight any previously unseen issues that may end up costing you thousands of pounds down the line. For most people, buying a house is the single biggest purchase you are likely to make. Finding any defects early on will only save you money in the long term.


A homebuyers report may expose issues such as rot, damp and subsidence. Whilst the damp patch may be small right now, it could turn into a structural issue for the building or even cause health issues for your family. It’s worth having a surveyor look at the property and check for issues like damp.


Furthermore, it will also uncover any serious structural problems with the building such as subsidence. Additionally, the surveyor will investigate the condition of the property’s timbers for woodworm and rot.


Other Common Issues

Other common issues raised in a homebuyers report include problems with inadequate insulation and ventilation in roof spaces. Along with overflowing gutters. Your report should include inspections of the roof, chimney, and high-level surfaces. As it’s a visual check, all roof structures are investigated where accessible.


The electrics inside the property may also cause an issue. An electrics test should take place every ten years. If there isn’t an electric test certificate, this will be highlighted in the report. As well as this, a gas safety engineer should test the boiler each year. A vendor must be able to provide a gas safety record showing the appliances and pipes are in good working order. If this is missing, it will also be highlighted in the report.


Along with this, a homebuyers report will raise awareness of any serious cracks in the property. Not all cracks are serious, but the report will reveal if they are a major problem. Any underlying issues causing the cracking will also be identified.


With this in view, don’t forget that even if you’re buying a fairly new property, you may still have some issues raised in the report. There could be some underlying problems that have been identified. However, knowing this in advance, allows you to make some decisions about whether to proceed with the purchase or not.

Anchor 3


More than half a million homes in the UK have septic tanks. They are very common in rural properties. If your house is not connected to the mains sewer, your sewage will go to a septic tank.

This is an underground tank where the solids sink to the bottom and the liquid flows out and soaks through the ground. Or, your sewage will go to a small sewage treatment plant. Which is a part mechanical system that treats the liquid so it’s clean enough to go into a river or stream.

General Binding Rules

With this in mind, there are general binding rules in place to ensure that septic tanks are regularly emptied and maintained. These rules were first introduced in 2015. But the regulations came into force for both new and old septic tanks from 1st January 2020.

Discharges from septic tanks directly to watercourses are not allowed under the general binding rules.

Generally speaking, the rules are designed to reduce the level of pollution from sewage in British watercourses. The government wants to end the practice of septic tanks discharging directly into a local watercourse, such as a river or stream.

Levels of Surveys

Getting a survey on a property you are about to buy is a very wise decision. A survey will highlight any structural issues such as damp, rot, or subsidence before your full purchase.

There are 2 main levels of surveys you can choose from. The 2 levels vary in their price, the length of time it takes to assess a building, and the detail in the written report.

Level 2

The Homebuyers Report is a level 2 survey. This will include more detail in the report. It includes all the features of a level 1 report, as well as highlighting any defects that might affect the property. Furthermore, it includes advice on repairs and maintenance. There are two options with the homebuyers report. You can choose to get the survey done on its own. Or you could choose the homebuyers report with a valuation. This includes the report and a valuation of the property.

A homebuyers report or level 2 survey, is suitable for standard properties in a reasonable condition. 

Level 3

Level 3 is the comprehensive building survey. Essentially, this is an in-depth look at the property’s condition with advice on defects, repairs, and how to maintain the property. A level 3 survey is suitable for older properties, unusual homes, renovation projects, and properties in a poor condition. 

Which One Should I Get?

With 2 options, you can choose which type of survey to use.

A standard homebuyers report, or level 2 survey is usually the most popular. It includes the general condition of the property and any urgent problems that may need repairs. Additionally, it will highlight the results of tests for damp in the walls, or rot in the timber. As well as an estimated cost of rebuilding the property for insurance purposes.

However, it doesn’t detail every aspect of the property. In the main, it focuses on urgent matters that need attention. Therefore, it’s not usually suitable for very old or unusual properties. Or for properties that have been significantly altered or require renovation.

A level 3 report or the full building survey is suitable for any property. Especially for listed buildings, older properties, or buildings with extensive alterations.

The building survey examines all accessible parts of the property and you can ask to have specific areas included. Generally speaking, it includes details of major and minor defects and what they could mean. Also, the possible cost of repairs and recommendations for any further investigation.

It doesn’t include a valuation. But, your surveyor can provide you with a valuation separately if you need one and there will be an additional charge.

Anchor 4
Anchor 5

Benefits of Each Report

There are benefits to each type of survey. Obviously, a level 2 survey is cheaper than a level 3 survey but includes a lot less detail. The two main surveys are also suitable for different types of property.

A property survey is optional, but it can help you to avoid any expensive and unwanted surprises. As well as giving you peace of mind. Given that this is probably the most expensive purchase of your life, it’s worth getting it right.

Level 2

A level 2 survey offers practical information such as broadband speed and boundary issues which may affect your decision. What if it highlights some serious damage in need of urgent repair? If you have the money and are willing to get the work done for your dream property, then the survey has done you a favour. Or, you could liaise with the vendor depending on the findings of the report.

Level 3

Furthermore, a level 3 survey is practically essential if you are buying an unusual or old property. Or if the property has had major renovation work on it in the past. Some of the building work may not meet current regulations. Or perhaps it has led to structural damage to the entire building. Once again, a major benefit to having any building survey done is that it could save you a lot of money in the future.

Notably, surveys don’t always reveal something bad. However, it can help you to make an informed decision on whether or not your want to continue with the buying process. The survey can also be used as evidence if you want to renegotiate the price. And it could factor in the cost of putting things right with the property. If the survey does highlight major repairs, do you want to take that on? It’s worth considering this in terms of money, time, and effort, as well as your current situation.

The Difference between a Homebuyer Report and Property Survey

The homebuyers report operates around the idea of a traffic light system and as such, each part of the report will be graded red, amber, or green.

You can probably guess what each colour means but, just so there’s no doubt in your mind we’ve dropped in a quick guide to help you wrap your head around it.

  • Green = Everything looks great!

  • Amber = Some attention may be required to condition

  • Red = Urgent attention and repairs will be needed

Home Buyer Reports are beneficial for those who are buying a house in a reasonable or new condition or for those who opt for conventional builds and properties under 100 years old.

The home buyer report is also used to give a valuation of a property and can be used in the purchase of the property to better the price or have any potential hazards fixed before the final sale happens.

The Homebuyers Report is a reasonably basic document and inspection. For instance, the surveyor will look for signs of rot or subsidence, but, they won’t move any furniture, lift floorboards or drill any holes. This means if you have an older or larger property this probably won’t be the option for you, as these measures are usually needed in buildings on these types to give a full picture of the condition of the property. We will go more into this later in the article.

Anchor 6
Anchor 7

What is a Property Survey?

The Home Buyers report is a very basic document and although it can be very helpful for the right situation it isn’t always the correct survey for your building.

The Property survey on the other hand is a much more complete report and offers you a far deeper look at the condition of your home. These surveys have far more emphasis on the structural integrity of the property. Just like the Home Buyers report the Property survey will describe the condition of the building however the Property Survey goes into further detail and will often offer detailed advice on the appropriate course of action that needs to be taken regarding repairs and restoration.

If you liked the idea of the traffic light system then don’t worry because it is featured here, however, this time it’s used as a base to begin comment on the condition and a way for you to understand the document at a glance.

A Property Survey will often include estimates for the price of restorations that could be needed to the property and valuations can often be added to the document if required.

A Property Survey is usually required when the following criteria are met:

  • Recently Renovated

  • Built with unconventional materials

  • Large Properties

  • You are planning renovations

  • The property is over 100 years old

  • There is a particular issue you wish to be investigated

There are many benefits of having a property survey they can make you aware of repairs, this, in turn, can help you either negotiate and better deal or enable you to request the repairs are made before you buy the property. Not only that, finding potential defects before they become hazards can save you money in the long term when looking at the overall picture.

The Difference Between Them

So many people may look at a Home Buyer Report and a Property survey and only really see the cost difference and think that the cheapest option is the one that is best for them. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case and as you can these two surveys have very different purposes.

If you’re looking to buy a property and it’s reasonably new with no renovation work done you may well be best fitted to have a Home Buyers Survey at the very least this gives you peace of mind that you’ve made the right decision.

However, if your property is older, larger, or has some form of renovation work done then the Property Survey may well be the correct path for your property. Both surveys are catered to pacific uses and allow you to make informed decisions about the potential purchase of your property.

Get in touch

If you’re still unsure about what the correct survey would be for your property and you’re in East Anglia are why not get in contact with us here.

There is a clear difference between a Homebuyers Report and a Property Survey. Although both operate on a traffic light system, the property survey will go into a level of depth that the Homebuyer survey won’t this becomes helpful when looking to buy older or larger properties and planning renovation work. Not only that having a professional cast his eye over your property may highlight issues or defects with the property that your untrained eyes may not have found until it was too late!

Do I Need a Homebuyers Report?

A property survey is a detailed inspection of the condition of a property carried out by the surveyor.

Essentially, a property survey offers you valuable advice, including highlighting any repairs that need to be made. It also helps to define the boundaries of your property.

There are three types of property survey you can choose from. A condition report, or a level 1 survey is the most basic type and therefore the cheapest. A full building survey, or level 3, is the most comprehensive and the most expensive. In between, there is a Homebuyers report, or a survey level 2.

Old Property
A Homebuyer’s Report is appropriate for properties that are under 100 years old and generally in a good condition. Therefore, if you are buying an old or unusual property or a property that has had extensive renovations, it’s worth investing in a full building survey instead of a homebuyers report.

During a full building survey, the surveyor will spend more time at the property considering more elements.  The more in-depth the report, the more likely it that defects with the property is going to be picked up. If you know about them in advance, you can fix any damages or repairs before they become bigger issues. That’s why property surveys are so important.

With this in view, it’s worth noting that there isn’t a legal obligation to get a survey done.  However, it is a wise decision. Some people may not spend more than a few hours in the property before they decide it is their dream home. A surveyor will be able to spend several hours looking for any issues and suggesting repairs and maintenance. This is especially helpful, particularly with an old or unusual property.

New Build Property

If you are buying a new build property, you may think you won’t need a survey at all. However, it is better to have even the most basic one, such as a condition report, than nothing.

A condition report, or level 1 survey, is suitable for new builds or newer properties.  It may reveal a boundary dispute or a building issue that you wouldn’t know about otherwise. Thus, it has the potential for saving you thousands of pounds in the long run. That’s if it reveals any nasty surprises.

The condition report includes a simple traffic light system that is easy to read. If the report has any red items, this means that there are serious defects with the building. Hence, it needs urgent repair. Orange means that repair work is needed shortly but isn’t urgent. Therefore, green is a signal that no defects have been found. The building is in generally good condition.

Notably, even if you are buying a newer property or a new build, your report won’t necessarily all be in green. There could be some underlying issues picked up by the survey.  But knowing about these issues can help you to decide on whether to continue with the purchase or not

Anchor 9
Anchor 8

How to Get the Most out of your Survey?

A surveyor will spend around 2-4 hours assessing the property on average. A full building report can take a lot longer, even up to 3-6 hours. Our surveyors are happy to talk the report through with the client afterward.

Buying a property is probably one of the biggest purchases you will ever make, so it makes sense to get it checked properly. As a buyer, you want to be as fully informed as possible. This includes investigating any defects with the property.

Depending on the outcome of the survey, you may even wish to pull out of the sale or change the sale price. For example, perhaps you find through the survey that the roof needs £20,000 worth of repairs. If that’s the case, you could ask for £20,000 off the asking price.

With so much money at stake, you won’t regret spending a fraction of it on a property survey. 


How Much Will It Cost?

The cost of your survey depends on the location of the property, its size, type, and age. Obviously, the longer the surveyor spends at the property, the higher the price. Additionally, an older or unusual property will have many more elements to consider than a new build or new property in a good condition.

Additionally, different surveyors will charge varying amounts.

At McCallums, our team can offer you impartial, clear, and expert advice, saving you valuable time and stress. Because we are an independent company, we can offer you impartial advice in a consultancy capacity.

Level 2

With choosing a Homebuyers Report, or level 2 survey, you can opt for a survey on its own or a survey with a valuation that increases the price. The report will comment on advice on repairs and maintenance. This type of survey is suitable for standard properties in a reasonable condition.

Level 3

Alternatively, a full Building Survey, or level 3 survey, the surveyor will need to spend more time looking at different elements in an older home. Essentially, this is an in-depth look at the property’s condition with advice on defects, repairs, how to maintain the property and estimated quotes for repair.

Anchor 10
Anchor 11

The Process of Getting a Survey

So you are buying a property, but how do you start the process of getting a survey done?  As soon as your offer is accepted on the property, you can organise a survey of the building.

Property surveys are carried out by licensed professionals and can tell you what repairs, if any, are needed on the building.  The survey can also inform you of any potential legal issues such as defining the boundaries of your property. Hence, this can help to avoid any queries raised about the extent of your property in the future.

Your mortgage provider, if you have one, will conduct its own valuation of the property. However, most people want the reassurance of their won dedicated structural survey on the property they wish to buy.  Generally speaking, buying a house is one of the biggest purchases you will ever make and it’s worth getting it right from the very beginning.

The first thing to do is to consider what type or level of survey you require.

Three different levels of survey

A condition report or a level 1 survey is the most basic report. A surveyor will assess the condition of the property visually and raise any legal or boundary issues as well.

A homebuyers report or level 2 survey is a more in-depth report. It highlights issues including damp, rot or subsidence. However, the report will only cover what is visible to the surveyor. They won’t look under floorboards or drill into walls.  But it might help you to make a better offer. For example, if the survey reveals that the roof is damaged and needs £20,000 worth of work to repair it, you could go back to the seller and offer £20,000 less than the asking price.

The level 3 building survey is the most comprehensive report. Therefore, it will take more time to carry out and it’s more expensive. However, it will raise any faults or defects with the property which could save you thousands of pounds in the long run. Moreover, it may even change your decision on whether or not to purchase the property. Or, help you to lower the asking price.

Notably, a survey is not a legal requirement for buyers. They exist to offer you further advice and information about the property. But, it is advisable to organise a survey before taking any further steps. It could help you to avoid any nasty surprises when you move in.

Where to Find a Surveyor

The next step in the process is to find a surveyor.  Firstly, you should always use a registered surveyor who is part of an affiliated body. Such as CIOB (Chartered Institute of Building) or RPSA (Residential Property Surveyors Association). By doing this, you are ensuring that a certified professional is carrying out the survey.

Your estate agent, lender or solicitor may recommend a surveyor to you, which is fine, but you can also look for one yourself.

Ideally, you should make sure the surveyor has a good knowledge of the local area and the various types of buildings within it. Similarly, if you’re buying a very particular type of property, such as a listed building, it pays to source a surveyor that specialises in such properties.

Next, carry out your own research into surveyors in your local area, or the area the property is in. Set up three different companies to get three different quotes and compare them. You can include the surveyor suggested by your estate agent in this if you choose to.


Local Recommendations

To start within your own research, speak to your friends who have bought properties in the area. Have they got any recommendations locally?

Additionally, you could check previous reviews from customers. This is an excellent way to find out what previous customers think about the company.  You want to choose a company that is reliable and also has experience in carrying out surveys in different types of properties.

With this in view, different surveyors will charge different fees for a survey.  Therefore, you might think it’s the easiest option to choose the cheapest quote. However, there is a caution here. Cheap doesn’t always mean good.

It’s worth discussing with your surveyor about the type of survey you require. If you are confused about which type, your surveyor should be able to talk it through with you and offer any advice. An excellent surveyor will have experience in all types of survey and be confident with every age of building.

Furthermore, is the surveyor easy to understand in terms of the process, and are they easy to contact? Can you set up a booking easily and proceed with the next steps of your purchase. You might be keen to get the buying process settled. But it’s a good idea to spend some time looking for the right surveyor to help you along with this.

Anchor 12
Anchor 13

How McCallums Can Help

By choosing McCallums, you can have peace of mind that your survey will be carried out by a professional surveyor.

At McCallums, we have over 30 years of experience in the construction sector. We offer comprehensive surveying services across East Anglia. Our surveyors offer all ranges and types of survey, no matter what the size or age of your property. We have a survey that is right for you.

If you are confused over which type of survey to choose, feel free to get in touch with us and we can offer you advice. Our team of experts have local real estate knowledge that is used to provide our clients with strategic and diverse advice in relation to your properties.

To Conclude: What is a Homebuyers Report and Why Do I Need One?

We hope that is article has helped you understand what a homebuyers report is and if you need a survey. Throughout this article we have mainly discussed the homebuyers report, the cost of it, and the differences between the different levels of property reports.

At McCallums we’ve been helping homeowners, investors, and professionals with property surveys for over 30 years. We are a proud independent firm located in East Anglia. We offer impartial clear and expert advice. This allows us to provide the best possible service to our clients. And provide you with the confidence that your property interests are being looked after by a team of qualified and experienced professionals.

If you have any questions or wish to speak to a member of the team, you can contact us.

Anchor 14
Anchor 15
bottom of page