Sometimes known as a RICS Building Survey, a Building Survey is an in-depth residential property inspection. As the most detailed of all house surveys, a Building Survey will provide you with comprehensive insight into a property’s condition. The report is particularly recommended for more unusual buildings, for example: listed, built before 1800, of eccentric construction, or those that have or will have extensive renovations.

What is a building survey?

A Building Survey will investigate different property elements and create a report describing each aspect of the building. In addition, it will identify the property’s defects and the cause, urgency, any maintenance options and, based on your specific needs, an approximate cost of repairs.

We recommend Building Surveys for properties which are:

  • Listed
  • Built before 1800
  • Unusually constructed such as being built in stone or with a steel frame or thatched roof
  • Already significantly altered or renovated, or if you plan to do so in the future

If you’re preparing to buy a property with individual character or history, for example, it was built before 1800 or is a listed building, we would always recommend that you carry out a Building Survey Report as they are far more thorough than a regular Home Survey Level 2 Report (previously called a HomeBuyer Report).

Picture of an old listed country home that would need a building survey report

When we carry out a building survey report, we pay particular attention to any element causing you concern. This could include outbuildings, grounds, boundaries, and the fabric of the building. We’ll advise you what needs urgent attention or further investigation and the likely cost of repairs.

Older buildings feature strongly in our area, especially in historic towns such as SevenoaksTunbridge Wells and Reigate, and also in and around Haywards Heath and East Grinstead. On the coast, Brighton and Eastbourne have their stock of uncommon buildings. Even in the more modern environments of Crawley and Croydon, individual properties could merit a fully detailed Building Survey.

Home Survey Level 2 Report vs RICS Building Survey – what is the difference?

With so many different surveys out there, knowing which house survey is the right one for you can often be confusing. Essentially, the main difference is how in-depth and comprehensive the Building Survey is.

For example, in a Home Survey Level 2 Report, a surveyor wouldn’t move heavy curtains or furniture to inspect windows, and in addition, they wouldn’t check that all windows are functional. Whereas, when conducting a Building Survey, your surveyor will move furniture, linen and inspect all windows to test their functionality.

To clearly show you the differences between the various house surveys, we have created a simple infographic – take a look here.

In-depth RICS Building Survey

A Building Survey is highly detailed, we approach it similarly to our Home Survey Level 2 Report, but you will receive a far more in-depth analysis of the findings. If you are interested in purchasing a flat or house that requires a lot of work, particularly a larger or older property, this type of survey is the one we’d wholeheartedly recommend.

Our Building Survey will describe visible defects and take into consideration potential issues caused by hidden flaws. Buying a property is a substantial commitment, so precisely knowing the condition of the building that you’re buying is essential.

brown and red brick building with a grey wooden door

A Tailor-made Building Survey For You

We can create a completely bespoke Building Survey for individual clients and individual properties, which has been tailor-made according to specific requirements that you may have. For example, we’ll pay particular attention to any element which causes you concern, including outbuildings, grounds, and boundaries, as well as the fabric of the building. We’ll also advise you what needs urgent attention or further investigation and the likely cost of repairs.

Generally, when we note a defect in a property during a building survey, we will then include a meticulous analysis of the defect itself and its likely causes in the report. We will then explain all the possible ways of getting the problem rectified, giving you a comprehensive and practical understanding of the issue and the steps needed to find a solution. We can also provide realistic cost estimates for repair, if required.

A market valuation and reinstatement valuation (which looks at the cost of rebuilding a severely damaged property) are not offered as standard with a Building Survey but can be included at your request.

We have far-reaching knowledge of the many types of property in East Sussex, West Sussex, Kent, Surrey, and London, so you can be sure that you’re in safe hands with Robinson Elliott and our comprehensive RICS Building Surveys.

Convenient Colour-Coded Building Survey Report

It can be a hectic, stressful time when you’re buying a property. To ensure that your Building Survey Report isn’t adding to that stress, our colour-coded reports make it simple for you to understand what’s going on with the property immediately. This will give you a quick overview of the condition ratings of the different elements of the property that we’ve inspected. Not only does this make it convenient and skim-proof, but it also allows you to take note of any potential problems at a glance.


Red light defects are serious and need to be repaired, replaced or investigated urgently.


Amber light defects need repairing or replacing but are not considered to be serious or urgent. The property must be maintained in the normal way.


A green light shows that no repair is currently needed. The property must be maintained in the normal way.


Not inspected – if any element cannot be inspected it is reported as NI.

What’s included in your Building Survey Report?

A Building Survey with Robinson Elliott is the most comprehensive survey available; it includes:

  • An in-depth inspection of your property, with a detailed report
  • A description of any visible defects
  • A description of any hidden flaws and the potential problems they could cause
  • An outline of your repair options, plus the possible consequences of not repairing issues

What isn’t included in a Building Survey Report?

Certain elements won’t be included in a RICS Building Survey; for example, any outside inspection of roofs, chimneys and high-level surfaces is always from ground level and without the use of ladders. However, if necessary, we may use binoculars. Inside, we’ll check the roof structure via the roof space if it’s accessible, but please bear in mind this won’t involve lifting insulation material.

It’s possible we may not be able to check every part of the property that is typically covered in a Building Survey. If that should be the case, we’ll note it in the report and advise you if further investigations should be carried out.

Building Survey FAQs

Here at Robinson Elliott, we have 30 years of experience completing expert RICS Building Surveys. Over the years, we have been asked many questions about house surveys, so we’ve compiled a collection of our frequently asked questions below. If you need any more help, please don’t hesitate to contact our professional team.

Do I Need a RICS Building Survey?

When you’re buying a property, you do not need to conduct a house survey. However, a comprehensive inspection like a Building Survey can help you avoid expensive and unpleasant surprises. For example, an unexpected re-wiring job or needing to replace old windows – both issues that we frequently find in older properties.

In addition, a Building Survey can give you peace of mind and reassurance that your new property is structurally sound.

If you’re not sure which survey is right for you or if you need a RICS Building Survey, contact us, and our helpful team can talk you through which survey would be the most suitable for you and your property.

What’s the Difference Between a Building Survey and a Structural Survey?

During a Structural Survey, a surveyor is specifically looking at the structural integrity of a property. In comparison, a Building Survey covers many more property elements and consists of an inspection of all accessible areas, detailing any defects or maintenance issues.

When Do You Need a Building Survey?

A Building Survey is the most comprehensive type of survey available. It provides you with an in-depth analysis of the state of the property and highlights defects, repairs, and maintenance issues. Not only saving you from any nasty surprises but providing you with the ultimate peace of mind.

We strongly recommend Building Surveys for properties which are:

  • Listed
  • Built before 1800
  • Unusually constructed, for example, built in stone, with a steel frame or thatched roof
  • Already significantly altered or renovated, or if you plan to do so in the future

What Areas Are Covered in a Building Survey?

Here at Robinson Elliott, our Building Surveys are thorough, below are some examples of what our surveyors will inspect:

  • Defects and what they could mean
  • Results of tests for any dampness in the walls
  • If there are any alterations to supporting walls
  • Any renovations that have occurred without the correct planning permission
  • Presence of hazardous materials (for example, asbestos)
  • If there’s any evidence of subsidence
  • Damage to the masonry and/or roof
  • Damage to any timber, including woodworm or dry rot
  • If there are any large trees close by
  • The conditions of existing damp proofing and insulation
  • Advice on non-tested drainage systems
  • Information on the materials used in building the property, plus any relevant technical information
  • Recommendations for any further investigations

How long will a RICS Building Survey take?

Our Building Surveys are extensive, so on average, the Building Survey can take up to a full day to complete, and the final report can take up to 2 weeks to receive. If time is a concern for you, please let us know, and we’ll try to work to your timeframe where possible.

How much does a Building Survey cost?

The cost for a RICS Building Survey will vary depending on your property type, size, and location, but on average, a Building Survey will range from £1,500 – £2,500.

What areas do you cover?

Our team of surveyors have far-reaching knowledge of the many types of property in East Sussex, West Sussex, Kent, Surrey, and London. However, if you live outside of these areas and would like us to conduct a Building Survey for you, please contact us.

With extensive experience in all types of property and areas in the South East of England, a Home Survey from Robinson Elliott Chartered Surveyors can help ensure your property will be safe and in a good state of repair, and that you are paying the right price for your new home. 

To find out more get in touch with Robinson Elliott Chartered Surveyors today to discuss surveys for your property.


  • Thank you again for your very thorough and helpful report. it will become the backbone of our efforts to maintain the house in the coming months and years, hopefully, if all goes well.

  • Just to let you know we have completed on Sheridan Place and are moving in at the weekend. Your survey is proving very useful as we commence the repairs and improvements etc. Thanks again for a job well done.

  • Thank you. It was nice to meet you and have a chat. I like the fact that you give clients verbal feedback following your survey, a nice personal touch and very useful.