Independent reports and advice on the home you are buying

As an independent Surveyor and Damp Consultant, I can check whether the home you are buying is sound. An appropriate survey will enable me to identify any problems and assess their importance, so I can give you the reassurance and advice you need when buying.

Because different types of house are prone to different problems, a range of surveys is available to meet your needs. With every survey, you get a detailed inspection that includes the investigation of any significant defects found. As decay, caused by moisture and dissolved salts, is the cause of most major problems in buildings, during all surveys, I do a general check for hidden moisture, to enable me to assess the severity of any damp related problems. After every survey, you will get a comprehensive, jargon-free report, telling you what problems have been found, how important they are, and their likely causes.

Choosing the most appropriate survey, and its cost, are important to ensure you get value for money. To help you decide, the following is a guide to the types of survey recommended and their costs:

  • Damp Surveys. If you have already had a general survey carried out, and the surveyor has recommended you obtain a specialist damp report/investigation, the appropriate option is a Damp Survey. This is a popular follow-on after a general survey carried out by other surveyors. If damp is your only concern, it is possible to just have a full damp survey carried out on the property.

    All damp surveys are specialist investigations, and will cover moisture and salts building up within the structure which are currently hidden, as well as visible dampness. The Damp Survey Report will prioritise the various damp issues found, say what the likely causes are, and provide recommendations for appropriate ways of dealing with the damp. All recommendations for repairs and materials to be used, are tailored to the needs of the building, and will take account of conservation needs in the case of listed buildings.

    The final cost of a Damp Survey depends on the time required for the on-site investigation, subject to a minimum charge of £400. For all damp surveys, there is also a separate charge to cover travelling. Most damp surveys fall just inside the time allowed for the minimum charge. For further information on damp investigations, see my dedicated damp consultancy website.

  • Condition Surveys. If the property was built after World War II, a Condition Survey is normally all you need. It is also suitable for older 20th century buildings that appear to be good condition, when you just need reassurance that the property is sound. For buildings that appear to have been neglected, or are built before 1900, this type or report is only suitable if you are knowledgeable about the needs of historic buildings, and/or have access to a specialist builder trained in vernacular building techniques.

    This type of survey, consists of a check on the condition of the various parts of the house, together with a check on the overall condition of any permanent outbuildings and retaining walls. Defects found are prioritised and where applicable, the likely cause of the problems is given. No recommendations are given as to repair methods or materials to be used. The parts of the building specifically checked are: chimneys; roof (coverings and structure); gutters, downpipes and gulleys; walls; windows; doors; ceilings; floors; fireplaces; staircases; kitchen and utility/laundry room fitted units; sanitary ware. All parts of the building are also given a general check for damp. Visual checks are carried out on the electrical system, any gas or oil installation, plumbing, central heating, and drains.

Condition Survey fees
Purchase price Survey fee
  Purpose built houses and all conversions Purpose built bungalow/flat
Less than £150,000 £400.00 £320.00
From £150,000 but less than £175,000 £450.00 £370.00
From £175,000 but less than £200,000 £500.00 £420.00
From £200,000 but less than £250,000 £550.00 £470.00
From £250,000 but less than £300,000 £600.00 £520.00
From £300,000 but less than £400,000 £675.00 £595.00
From £400,000 but less than £500,000 £750.00 £670.00
From £500,000 but less than £600,000 £825.00 £745.00
From £600,000 but less than £700,000 £900.00 £820.00
From £700,000 but less than £800,000 £975.00 £895.00
From £800,000 but less than £900,000 £1,050.00 £970.00
From £900,000 but less than £1,000,000 £1,125.00 £1,045.00
  • Essential Structure Surveys. If the property was built before 1900, an Essential Structure Survey is recommended. This type of survey, is also strongly recommended for properties built between 1900 and World War II, that have been altered or poorly maintained.

    These surveys consist of a more detailed check on the essential structural components of the building. This is needed because older buildings have almost invariably been altered since they were built. In the days before formal building regulations, alterations were often of poor quality as regards the marriage of the two sections, potentially leading to long term structural problems. Even when buildings have not been substantially altered, those within towns (particularly those built between 1700 and 1830) were often extremely poorly built, and need careful assessment before undertaking appropriate repairs.

    The Essential Structure Survey report will prioritise any problems found, say what the probable causes are, and provide recommendations for appropriate repairs and materials. The recommendations will take account of any conservation requirements in the case of listed buildings. The parts of the building checked are: chimneys; roof (coverings and structure); physical damp proof courses (where applicable); structural walls; floors; fireplaces; staircases. The building is also given an overall check for any damp that could affect the structure. Drains are visually inspected for any indications of problems.

Essential Structure Survey fees
Purchase price Survey fee
  Purpose built houses and all conversions Purpose built bungalow/flat
Less than £150,000 £380.00 £300.00
From £150,000 but less than £175,000 £430.00 £350.00
From £175,000 but less than £200,000 £480.00 £400.00
From £200,000 but less than £250,000 £520.00 £450.00
From £250,000 but less than £300,000 £570.00 £490.00
From £300,000 but less than £400,000 £640.00 £565.00
From £400,000 but less than £500,000 £710.00 £640.00
From £500,000 but less than £600,000 £780.00 £710.00
From £600,000 but less than £700,000 £855.00 £780.00
From £700,000 but less than £800,000 £925.00 £850.00
From £800,000 but less than £900,000 £1,000.00 £920.00
From £900,000 but less than £1,000,000 £1,070.00 £990.00
  • Building Surveys. If you require the same range of checks as a Condition Survey, but with the additional detail and advice of an Essential Structure Survey, a Building Survey is the recommended option.

    The house, permanent outbuildings, and retaining walls are checked for problems, in exactly the same way as for a Condition Survey. The Building Survey Report though will prioritise any problems found, say what the probable causes are, and provide recommendations for appropriate repairs and materials. The recommendations will take account of any conservation requirements in the case of listed buildings. The electrical system, gas/oil installations, plumbing, central heating, and drains, are visually inspected the same as for a Condition Survey, but no repair recommendations are possible, as these need specialists to check and repair them.

Building Survey fees
Purchase price Survey fee
  Purpose built houses and all conversions Purpose built bungalow/flat
Less than £150,000 £570.00 £450.00
From £150,000 but less than £175,000 £645.00 £525.00
From £175,000 but less than £200,000 £720.00 £600.00
From £200,000 but less than £250,000 £780.00 £675.00
From £250,000 but less than £300,000 £855.00 £735.00
From £300,000 but less than £400,000 £960.00 £850.00
From £400,000 but less than £500,000 £1,065.00 £960.00
From £500,000 but less than £600,000 £1,170.00 £1,065.00
From £600,000 but less than £700,000 £1,280.00 £1,170.00
From £700,000 but less than £800,000 £1,385.00 £1,275.00
From £800,000 but less than £900,000 £1,500.00 £1,380.00
From £900,000 but less than £1,000,000 £1,605.00 £1,485.00

Important limitations on any house buyer survey

Damp surveys are the only type of survey that I can carry out on buildings beyond East Anglia, for locations within a 3½ hour drive of my office.

Features such as heating, ventilation, alarms, utilities, underground drains, solar thermal panels, and micro-electricity generating equipment, all require specialist inspection equipment, maintenance, and repair. As such surveyors are not qualified to carry out anything other than a visual inspection on them, and make general comments. When buying any property, regardless of whether you end up having a proper survey, you must therefore always arrange for the following independent safety inspections:

  • Any chimney flues must be swept and checked before use;
  • Any solid fuel boiler or stove, must be inspected by a HETAS registered installer;
  • The electrical system must be inspected by an NICEIC registered electrician;
  • Any oil-fired boiler, along with the oil storage tank and associated supply pipes, must be inspected by an OFTEC registered technician;
  • Any gas fire, gas cooker, or gas-fired boiler, must be inspected by a Gas Safe registered engineer;
  • Any mature trees closer to the building than their current height, should be inspected by a qualified tree surgeon such as a member of the Arboricultural Association.

Every survey carried out by me, includes a free 2-year post-survey advice service. This means for the next 2 years, you can not only discuss any issues arising from the survey with me, if any new problems appear, or your builder discovers anything you are unsure of while carrying out alterations, I will advise free of charge.

To enquire about a survey on the property you are buying, ring me on 01263 734815 or fill in the following form:

Survey Form - * Denotes a required field

Privacy Statement - Your name and contact details will be held in the strictest of confidence. I will not under any circumstances share this information with any third party, unless I am compelled by a court order.

About David M. Kinsey

I am an independent Surveyor, specialising in damp and the problems of period houses. Based in Norfolk, I cover the whole of Norfolk for regular surveys, but venture further afield for more specialist surveys - I am regularly called upon to carry out specialist damp investigations for clients throughout much of the southern half of England.

My building surveying career dates back to the late 1970s. I have also been a Chartered Information Systems Engineer since the mid 1990s.

In recent years, there have been major changes in survey requirements, as a result of extensive (and ongoing) research into the materials used in historic building construction, how they work, their problems, and maintenance needs. Coupled with major changes in modern building construction, the incompatibility between old and new buildings, and misunderstanding of old buildings, has never been greater. To keep my knowledge up to date, I subscribe to specialist technical publications, and go on specialist technical courses and seminars. These are run by organisations such as the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC), the Building Research Establishment (BRE), Institute of Specialist Surveyors and Engineers (ISSE), and Building Limes Forum.