What are RICS Home Surveys & Why do You Need One?

What are RICS Home Surveys & Why do You Need One?

Buying a new home is an exciting time. And if you’ve had your offer accepted, you’ve probably started thinking about RICS home surveys and whether you need one. You may already have a mortgage lender’s valuation report. But if you want to avoid unpleasant surprises once you move in, a survey that carries the weight of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) can give you peace of mind and help you buy with confidence.

What are RICS home surveys?

During a RICS home survey, an expert surveyor will inspect the property and outline any concerns in a report. A detailed inspection can spot structural issues like subsidence and highlight significant repair work that needs to be done. In addition, the surveyor adds expert observations on the structure and glazing of the property.

RICS home surveys cover everything from property conditions to a complete building survey.

RICS Home Survey Level One

This type of survey is suitable if you’re buying a modern property in generally good condition. A traffic light system is used in the report to highlight significant issues and give you an overview of the property’s condition but doesn’t go into detail.

RICS Home Survey Level Two

This more in-depth survey is popular with homebuyers and is cost-effective when you’re buying a home in reasonable condition.

The level 2 survey lists any issues that could affect the value of your home, including subsidence and damp. In addition, the surveyor will advise you on repairs and ongoing maintenance and outline any legal problems that need to be addressed. However, this is a non-intrusive survey, so the surveyor will only inspect at surface level.

If you opt for a survey and valuation, you’ll also receive an opinion on the current market value and an insurance reinstatement figure.

RICS Home Survey Level Three

If you’re looking to buy a property that’s over fifty years old and one in run-down condition, it’s advisable to have a complete structural survey done. It’s also advisable if the building design is unusual, uses non-standard materials, or if you’re planning major renovations.

A RICS Home Survey Level three used to be called a Building Survey and prior to that a Structural Survey. It is the most in depth survey that most Chartered Surveyors offer. It gives you more detailed information on the structure of your property, listing defects and advising on repairs and maintenance. Your surveyor may also provide an estimate for recommended repair costs if requested in advance.

Why do I Need a RICS Home Survey?

When you’re buying a new home, a house survey can sometimes feel like an expense too far. That seems particularly true if you’re purchasing a modern property that’s in reasonable condition.

However, if you’re aware of any problems, you can make a more informed decision in whether you want to pursue the sale. In addition, you can accurately budget for any repair work based on the survey results. You might even be able to negotiate a reduction in the sale price. We have dealt with numerous clients who on the back of a £450 survey have saved themselves tens of thousands of pounds on a renegotiated purchase price.

For example, if the survey shows that the property needs £20,000 spending on it, you could ask the seller to reduce the purchase price or undertake the repairs before you complete the purchase.

You should definitely have a survey done if you have any doubts or worries about the property’s condition.

Trust Torus Surveyors for Your RICS Home Surveys

At Torus Chartered Surveyors, we’re a RICS registered valuer and building surveyor who can undertake your level 1, 2 or 3 RICS home surveys in Manchester. Contact us today for your help to buy house valuations and Homebuyer Reports.

How to Spot the Signs of Subsidence

How to Spot the Signs of Subsidence

Subsidence affects thousands of properties every year, and could potentially reduce the value of your home if you decide to resell it.

Now it’s more important than ever as new maps from the British Geological Survey (BGS) reveal that climate change is likely to cause an increase in subsidence-related issues for British homes and properties over the next 50 years.

So, how do you spot the signs of subsidence and what should you do if your property has it? Let’s find out!

Subsidence or Settlement?

To put it simply, subsidence occurs when the buildings foundations are not supporting the building’s weight adequately; it can occur when the ground beneath your property gradually collapses or sinks, taking the building’s foundations with it. This causes the building to shift and can cause large cracks. It would normally require some remedial works such as underpinning to prevent further movement.

Settlement on the other hand occurs due to the natural compaction of the ground normally beneath a newly built house or extension and generally stabilises after some minor movement. This can also cause cracks, but is more minor in nature and not serious. Normally no remedial works are required.

The causes of subsidence

Leaking drains: Water from drains or gutters, especially after heavy rain fall can wash away the soil, leaving the ground saturated underneath your property and eventually causing it to subside.

Soil shrinkage: Dry, warm weather is one of the most common causes of subsidence. As the groundwater evaporates, porous clay soils are prone to shrink, crack and shift, leading to structural movement.

Tree roots: Trees may look harmless enough, but they can influence subsidence in a couple of ways. Firstly, they are able to extract valuable water from the soil, drying it out. And secondly, if trees are growing nearby, its roots can destabilise the ground and make your foundations uneven.

The signs of subsidence

Visible evidence of subsidence can be found on both the exterior and interior of a home. Here’s how to spot the warning signs of subsidence.

Cracks in the walls

These are the most obvious tell-tale signs of subsidence and they’re not hard to miss. Of course, you’ll get the occasional small hairline cracks in newer built properties or plastered walls, which is perfectly normal.

But if it’s wider than a 5mm, appears to be bigger at the top, and starts at the ground this can be a sign.

Sticking windows and doors

Jammed or sticking windows and doors are found in most properties but can on occasion be a sign of subsidence. If the frames appear to be warped, difficult to use, or surrounded by large gaps and cracks then this can also be a sign of subsidence.

Rippling wallpaper

Finally, does your wallpaper look rippled / crinkled at the wall and ceiling joints, but it isn’t caused by damp? Then it could be subsidence. One effective way to check is seeing if mildew, discolouration or condensation is present or not.

What should I do if my house shows signs of subsidence?

Don’t panic, most buildings do move around and normally minor cracks and movement are nothing to worry about however it is sensible to seek out a professional to help identify and diagnose the issue.

We can conduct a thorough inspection of your next property purchase via a Building Survey or HomeBuyer Survey.

Call Torus Chartered Surveyors in Altrincham now on 0161 929 7892 or fill out the form to request an instant quotation.

What is the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors?

What is the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors?

RICS is the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. It is a global organisation that enforces standards across the surveying sector, including construction and the natural environment.

The institution covers more than 130,000 trainees and professionals, ensuring confidence in the work done by chartered surveyors worldwide.

Practicing members have to hold surveying qualifications and be able to demonstrate extensive experience and competence, they then gain the right to use one of several designations after their name. These include AssocRICS (Associate Member of RICS), MRICS (Member of RICS) and FRICS (Fellow of RICS). They need to abide by strict regulation and audit undertaken by the RICS.


Landmark dates in RICS history

RICS dates back to 1868 when 49 surveyors met at the Westminster Palace Hotel and founded the organisation. Its name has changed slightly over the years:

  • June 15th 1868: The Institution of Surveyors is founded.
  • August 26th 1881: The Surveyors’ Institution receives a Royal charter.
  • 1930: The name changes to the Chartered Surveyors’ Institution.
  • 1946: King George VI grants the ‘Royal’ title to the organisation.
  • 1947: The name officially becomes the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.


The Institution continues to set standards covering land, property and the built environment, with 18 professional groups representing specialisms within those three areas.

In 1988 it was a founding member of the Building Industry Council, which eventually became the Construction Industry Council.

And in 2013, RICS co-founded a group that developed International Property Measurement Standards, followed by International Ethics Standards in 2016.


RICS Property Surveys

For most people in the UK, RICS is best known as the regulatory body for professional property surveys, including:

These offer different levels of detail for property owners and prospective buyers to check the physical condition and market value of a property.

By getting a professionally accredited surveyor to inspect a property, you know you will receive a high-quality RICS report from an individual who must meet certain standards of continuing professional development, ongoing training and proven competence.


Make an enquiry today

If you would like to make an enquiry about a RICS accredited Condition Report, HomeBuyer Report or RICS Building Survey (also known informally as a Full Structural Survey), please contact Torus Chartered Surveyors in Altrincham today and we’ll be happy to help.

We are open for business and conducting home surveys in accordance with all government guidelines. As the pandemic eases, we will continue to work in a safe way, observing appropriate social distancing and wearing gloves and face masks for as long as necessary.

To find out more about any of our services, call 0161 929 7892 or visit our Contact page for more details.

How to Prepare for a House Survey

How to Prepare for a House Survey

Having a surveyor looking around your home can be a stressful experience. In this article, we’re here to show you how to prepare for a house survey to make their job easier and the experience less stressful for you too.

An inspection by a surveyor is an important part of several processes:

  • Valuation for mortgage/re-mortgage or help to buy purposes will normally last around 30 minutes for an average sized house.
  • An inspection for a HomeBuyers Report will normally last 1.5 to 2.5 hours for an average sized house.
  • An inspection for a full Building Survey will likely take 2.5 hours + for an average sized property and can be substantially longer for larger houses.

Whilst the visit may be inconvenient, if you are selling your property, consider the amount of money involved for your purchaser, providing access to their surveyor for a few hours would seem only reasonable.  It’s important for the surveyor to be able to work unencumbered and uninterrupted.

How can you help

  • A tidy house with easy access to all areas reduces the amount of time the surveyor will spend in your property, surveyors will often need to look at windows, fuse boxes, stop taps and utilities clearing items away from these areas can help.
  • Pets; if you have particularly nervous or aggressive animals, please think about the surveyor. Maybe getting someone to look after them during the visit or ensuring they are kept in different rooms.
  • Hiding defects with strategically placed rugs, sofas or pictures generally doesn’t work. Most surveyors are experienced enough to find them, quite often being honest about problems can allay surveyor’s and purchaser’s worries. Hiding or disguising them normally rings alarm bells, when maybe it is only a small problem.
  • Finally, please don’t try to rush the surveyor. Your purchaser has spent a lot of money on their survey and the surveyor is trying to provide a good service to their client.

Should I make minor repairs?

If there are any small DIY tasks that need doing around your property, it’s sensible to get caught up with them ahead of a house survey.

This could be something minor, like a broken light switch or plug socket, a leaking tap or pipe, or cosmetic work like peeling paint.

Nobody is expecting you to fully refurbish a house you’re about to sell – unless you plan to do this anyway to add value – but taking care of the small details can help.

Any questions?

The exact itinerary for your surveyor’s visit can depend on the level of survey you have booked, from a Condition Report or HomeBuyer Report, through to a full RICS Building Survey which can identify necessary repair work and estimate the costs involved.

If you’d like to know more about how to prepare for a house survey and what the surveyor will do on the day, please contact us on 0161 929 7892 and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.

The Most Common House Survey Issues

The Most Common House Survey Issues

If you’re looking to buy a property, it’s likely you will need the services of a chartered surveyor to examine the condition of a house. Not only does a RICS HomeBuyer Report give you peace of mind, but if ordered, provide an accurate property market valuation and a reinstatement value for insurance purposes.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or existing homeowner, assessing the risk of such a huge investment can help you make an informed decision. So, here are some of the most common house survey issues you’re likely to find.


This is one of the most common house survey issues. Excess moisture from leaky roofs, damaged guttering, rising damp and poor ventilation are just some of the reasons behind damp sneaking into the house’s interior.

It can vary in levels of severity. It can be a cosmetic consideration or on some occasions it can cause wet rot and dry rot in timber which can lead to structural problems.

This can normally be rectified, although in some older houses this can be notoriously difficult to completely eradicate.

Roof issues

A sound roof, is a sound house. However, this part of the property is extremely susceptible to environmental factors such as heavy rain and wind. From cracked or missing tiles, to overflowing gutters and blocked ventilation, these can be incredibly costly to fix.

Structural movement

Another common house survey issue is structural movement or subsidence. Indicators of this are cracks in the ceilings and walls, sometimes caused by defects in the building’s foundations.

Most older houses have suffered from some structural movement and normally it is historic and nothing to be overly concerned by. A comprehensive survey will identify if movement could get worse.

Japanese knotweed

The notorious Japanese knotweed can grow rapidly and be extremely difficult to remove. Its deep roots are known to cause damage to buildings and driveways through cracks in concrete and brickwork, as well as potentiality interfere with drainage.

If identified by your house surveyor, then it is necessary to eradicate it using an accredited specialist.

Mortgage lenders take a very broad brush approach when dealing with houses with knotweed and this can make selling or mortgaging very difficult

Electric & Gas

Finally, faulty electrical wiring and lack of certification are other common house survey issues not to be overlooked. Chartered surveyors are normally not able to test the utilities in the property, they can only visually assess surface mounted fixings. However, it is highly recommended that an EICR is carried out to make sure your new home is safe.

A recent boiler test certification is also important to check all appliances and pipework are working accordingly, and vendors should be able to provide a Gas Safety Record as proof.

Book your next Homebuyer Survey

If you would like to find out more about one of our detailed HomeBuyer Surveys, please do not hesitate to contact our team of Chartered Surveyors in Altrincham at Torus.

Call us on 0161 929 7892 or request an instant quotation.

You can find out more about what to do after a bad house survey, by reading our latest blog here: https://www.house-survey.co.uk/what-to-do-after-a-bad-house-survey/

What to Do After a Bad House Survey

What to Do After a Bad House Survey

Knowing what to do after a bad house survey can mean the difference between completing a house purchase or the sale falling through. Problems raised on a property survey don’t have to mean walking away. Some problems are very common, sometimes similar issues can be found in most houses of that age and style. Sometimes other defects can be used as a bargaining chip to negotiate a reduction in the agreed price. If you are particularly concerned about elements of your survey, it is a good idea to speak to your surveyor directly.

But buying a property without a thorough survey is a gamble you should not take, as you might miss significant structural issues that require costly repair work later.

Common problems on house surveys

There are a few common problems on house surveys, and they can have different implications in terms of cost, difficulty to repair, and whether you should continue with your purchase.

Some examples include:

  • Damp and rot
  • Subsidence
  • Japanese knotweed
  • Old electrical fittings

If your house survey highlights any of these issues, your surveyor should be able to give you an idea of how to proceed. An in-depth property survey is likely to look for a wider variety of less common problems, with more detailed advice provided if any are found.

Understanding a bad house survey

Understanding the results of a bad house survey can help you decide how to proceed. At Torus Chartered Surveyors, we use a simple traffic lights system to show the likely difficulty of repair.

No matter what level of survey you go for, we will talk you through the results so that you know what we have found.

How to estimate costs of property repairs

If a significant issue is raised, you can estimate the cost of repair work by asking independent tradespeople for quotes to carry out the repairs. This is especially important if the problem is one that needs repairing immediately, rather than one you can leave until later or have repaired in stages.

Make it a priority to get 2-3 quotes as quickly as possible, so that you can decide whether or not to proceed with the purchase, without keeping the vendor waiting unnecessarily.

Renegotiating the sale price

If repair work is going to cost money – especially if the likely cost is in the thousands – you might opt to ask for this to be taken off the amount you pay for the house itself.

Be reasonable – don’t try to get a heavily discounted sale over a minor or common repair job. But don’t be afraid to revise your original offer if it is important to you.

For more advice on building and house surveys, contact the experts at Torus Surveyors in Altrincham now on on 0161 929 7892 or email info@house-survey.co.uk and a member of our team we’ll be happy to help with your enquiry.