Which commercial survey do I need?

Building surveys vary in price and comprehensiveness, so think carefully about your needs before making a decision

Far from being a one-size-fits-all label, a commercial building survey is actually an umbrella term that encompasses a number of different commercial inspections. These inspections vary greatly in the specifics examined, the cost, the person undertaking the inspection and the reasons behind it.

Different sets of circumstances will warrant particular types of inspection, so you need a clear picture of what you need the process to accomplish to make the right choice.

Let’s run through the most common types of commercial building survey to give you a clearer idea of their benefits, typical prices and when they are appropriate.

Building survey

Designed to give a prospective owner a detailed picture of the state of the property, a building survey is the most comprehensive inspection available.

They are carried out by a surveyor accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which will subsequently produce a comprehensive report covering the present condition of the building and any future maintenance required.

Building surveys – previously called structural surveys – are appropriate for any kind of property, but are particularly recommended for listed buildings; properties more than 50 years old; unusual properties; buildings you intend to renovate; and buildings that have already been altered significantly.

Given the extensive nature of this inspection, it’s no surprise that full building surveys don’t come cheap, typically costing between £600-£800, depending on property size.

Schedule of condition

An important component of the contractual side of property occupation, the schedule of condition is a detailed breakdown (both visual and in writing) of the precise condition of the building. By recording the building’s exact state at the commencement of the tenancy, it avoids any dispute over what constitutes an acceptable condition for the building to be returned in.

The cost can vary considerably depending on the scale of the inspection, but the level of protection against potential liability generally makes them a worthwhile expense.

Schedule of dilapidations

Similar to the schedule of condition, the schedule of dilapidations is an investigation into the state of the building for contractual purposes. This particular survey will typically be requested by the landlord in order to determine what (if any) damage the tenant is liable to pay to repair.

As with the schedule of condition, the schedule of dilapidations will be conducted by a surveyor at a cost that depends on the property size.

Homebuyer report

A homebuyer report is, as the name suggests, designed for residential properties. Like the aforementioned commercial surveys, it is performed by an RICS-accredited chartered surveyor. Its purpose is to offer the purchaser a professional opinion on the value of the property to reassure them that the purchase is sensible. This kind of survey typically costs somewhere in the region of £200-£400.

Home condition survey

If you’re only interested in a rundown of a residential building’s condition (separate from questions about value for money) then the home condition survey is your best option. These will usually be conducted by a home inspector with a relevant diploma, although in recent years the RICS has begun offering its own version of this service, carried out by a chartered surveyor.

Valuation only

Finally, your mortgage lender may ask for a valuation to be completed by a chartered general practice surveyor. This does not consider the condition of the building and – clocking in at between £150 and £300 – is at the lower end of the pricing scale.

As you can see, there are myriad commercial and residential building surveys available. From both a practical and financial standpoint, you should choose one that best suits your situation and needs. Although this list is far from exhaustive, it does cover the most widely used surveys on offer.

Melanie Luff

About the author

Mel wrote for all titles in the Dynamis stable including BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com as well as other global industry publications.


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