Westville Associates is an experienced firm of building surveyors, based in London and Surrey. We are passionate about giving our clients the peace of mind they need before they make the significant investment involved in a property purchase.
That peace of mind comes from a comprehensive survey on the property before you sign the deal.
But how do you know whether to go for a Level 2 Homebuyers Report or a Level 3 Building Survey?
In this article, we give you an overview of both types of report, explain the main differences between them and outline the factors you should consider, in order to help you choose the right one for you.
The ultimate goal of either report is to ensure that you are as best informed as possible before committing to your purchase.
Used to assess the condition of a property pre-purchase, a Level 2 Homebuyers Report is suitable for properties that are of standard construction and in seemingly fair to good condition.
When possible, we will discuss the property with the existing owners to try and learn as much information about the property as we can.
This survey includes a non-intrusive, visual inspection of the property from accessible vantage points, without trespassing onto others’ private property. From our inspection, we produce a basic report which provides commentary as to the condition of the property on the day of the inspection, including detailing any visible defects at the time and advice on the next course of action.
We also make recommendations to your legal adviser about obtaining further information where we feel it is necessary.
On top of everything already described in the Level 2 Homebuyers Report, investing in a Level 3 Building Survey will not only cover any defects that have been identified as existing or likely to develop in the future but also, where accessible and possible, the cause, the type of repair required, and what the implications could be if the recommended repairs are not carried out.
All the information obtained then goes into a detailed and comprehensive report, along with photographs, giving you clear and reasoned advice to help you make the most informed decisions before you purchase the property. It can also be referred back to, post purchase, to give you information on how to look after the property.
An additional service which can be provided to the Level 3 Building Survey is a basic cost estimate for recommended repairs. However, it is worth noting that construction costs have become highly volatile and, as such, our cost estimates are not market tested.
A Level 3 Building Survey is the most thorough and detailed report available. It is usually reserved for properties that might be older, more complex, previously altered or in a poor state of repair.
Both reports allow enough time on site to note and record any visible defects.
The type of survey that will be best for you will depend on a combination of factors, such as the complexity of the build, the current condition of the property and its geographical location, as well as your experience with the type of property you are looking at purchasing. For example, if the property you are looking to purchase happens to be the fifth Victorian-era property you will have owned, then you are likely to have experience of what is required in regards to maintenance and defects associated with a period property, and this experience goes towards a positive understanding of living within a period property and the type of report you require.
Generally, we recommend a Level 2 Homebuyers Report for properties that have been built using simple construction methods and which appear to be in good condition.
Neither report includes inspecting inaccessible areas and, as we are not registered gas or electrical engineers, we cannot test services or appliances. However, we will provide commentary on these services and appliances from our perspective as building surveyors. We also try and gain a visible perspective of drainage inspection chambers when it is safe to do so.
One difference between the two reports is that, in a Level 3 Building Survey, we include advice on upgrading the energy efficiency of a property including elements such as insulation, the efficiency of the heating system and the property’s ventilation. In comparison, a Level 2 Homebuyers Report only includes basic information such as the current EPC rating as listed on the government website.
Ideally, we recommend that you book your survey with your chosen surveyor as soon as possible after your offer has been accepted.
The process of purchasing a property can be quite pressured and time-sensitive, and you don’t want to feel rushed when you are considering the findings of the survey report.
The report could highlight a need for further investigations and/or it could give you fresh information that may need to be raised during the sales negotiations.
Some clients ask us if they still need to get a survey done if their builder says the property looks okay. We believe that, whilst competent contractors can diagnose some defects and provide costs for their repair, if they are instructed to do so before a survey has been carried out who is to say they have acted with total impartiality. It’s also worth bearing in mind that some contractors recommend remedial repairs that can further compromise the property’s integrity, for example a contractor suggesting cement based re-pointing to a period property’s brick work.
The cost of both types of report is variable, and is dependent on the size of the property, its location and the construction methods it has been built with. The cost of a Level 3 Building Survey is higher than a Level 2 Homebuyers Report as these surveys are, by nature, more complex and more time-consuming because the properties are generally larger, possibly in a dilapidated state, or the building construction methods can be older and less straightforward than in a modern property.
After we have reviewed the details of the property you are looking to purchase, your experience/understanding of the type of property and requirements from a survey, we will be able to give you a cost estimate.
Our priority is to give you the best service we can, at the best possible price. If we feel that a Level 2 Homebuyers Report will be sufficient, we will happily recommend that option for you.
When you get in touch with us, we will talk through basic details about the property, your requirements and your experience. It’s helpful for us to view the property online, to give you a more accurate fee proposal and to give us more information to base our opinion on, regarding which type of survey we feel would be most appropriate.
If you choose to go ahead and instruct us, we send you terms of business to sign and return to us, which gives us permission to liaise directly with the estate agent and arrange access to the property.
We will email your report within the agreed timescale, usually three to five working days after carrying out the survey.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at our Surrey office on 01932 864375 or our South-West London office on 0208 412 7967. Our expert, friendly team looks forward to hearing from you.