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How Long Does a Building Survey Actually Take?

Wed 21 November 2018

When it comes to buying a new home, it is advised to have a building survey to help highlight any serious problems and advise you of specific risks before you commit to the purchase. McCartneys Planning and Survey Department undertake two of the three types of RICS surveys, the Homebuyers Survey and Valuation, and the Full Building Survey. It is often a surprise to both home owners and purchasers how long we will actually spend at the property undertaking the survey.


The most basic level of survey is called the ‘RICS Condition Report’ although this is not undertaken as a rule by our chartered surveyors, this survey involves spending the least amount of time, both the property and writing the report. The survey is only a walk around to identify any serious problems which need urgent attention, this can take less than 15minutes on site, with a similar time in the office required to complete the report.

The first level of survey we offer is called the RICS Homebuyers Survey, this is a more detailed survey and will involve an in-depth look at both the internal and external of the building. This survey aims to provide a much more detailed investigation and report into the property including the loft space, floors and services. The survey is a detailed walk around, with note making of all elements, (with and without issues) to ensure that a comprehensive report is produced.  This type of survey would take a minimum of 1 and a half hours for the most basic properties, with a more complicated property with various extensions taking longer. The report writing for a Homebuyers Survey would be similar to the amount of time the survey takes as a rough guide.

The most detailed survey is the Full Building Survey, this level of survey is recommended for the older buildings and provides a much more detailed and descriptive report than the Homebuyers Survey. The amount of time the survey takes is typically a minimum of 2 hrs, with the more complicated properties with different construction method taking longer. For example a large three storey Grade II listed property, with several different extensions took two chartered surveyors two full days to compete on site alone. The report writing also takes longer with the Full Building Survey with the report not only much more descriptive, but also providing a detailed outline of the repairs required and indicative costs associated. A typical report for one of the more basic buildings could take 3 to 4 hours to complete.

Whilst the end choice of survey will usually depend on the property, with key criteria including the age, construction methods and known issues in the area, it is always important to remember that reflective thought is needed after the initial survey prior to writing up the report. This gives adequate time to think over the issues identified and produce an precise report and advise the client correctly about the property.

For further information or request a quote for a Building Survey please contact your local McCartneys Planning and Survey Department

Geraint Jones BSc(Hons) MRICS – Newtown and Welshpool Planning and Survey Department

Tel: 01686 623123 / 01938 531000 or email

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