What is an RICS Building Survey?


Everything you need to know about an RICS building survey

By Camsure Home Surveys, September 27th, 2021, 6 min read


A RICS building survey (also known as a full structural survey) is the most comprehensive building analysis governed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. An RICS-certified surveyor will inspect your property for defects (both inside and out) and assess any environmental concerns, such as dampness.   

What happens during an RICS Building Survey?

When an RICS surveyor performs a building survey on your property, you will receive a thorough internal and external inspection of your property.

Areas of interest will include:


  • roof structure
  • ceilings, walls and partitions
  • floors
  • fireplaces, chimneys and flues
  • kitchen and utility fittings
  • woodwork, joinery and staircases
  • bathroom fittings


  • chimney
  • roof
  • rainwater goods
  • external walls
  • windows
  • doors
  • conservatory
  • porch
  • joinery
  • garden and boundaries
  • garage and outbuildings


  • smoke detectors
  • cellars
  • loft conversions

The surveyor is looking for:

- property defects that could be potentially harmful

- problems that may arise in the future

- hazardous materials used on the building

- any signs of damp within the floor, walls and ceiling

During the survey, the surveyor will:

- ensure that all structural work has been legally permitted

- report all materials used to build the property

- assess damage that may have occurred on the roof or to structural timbers

- assess the environment to make sure that there are no problems surrounding the property 

They will also suggest solutions for any issues they may be concerned about after the comprehensive examination. 

An RICS surveyor will pay special attention to specific parts of your property (unless otherwise specified in the contract), these include: 

Internally Externally Other
Woodworm and rot Roof Chimneys Garages
Dampness and condensation Gutters Conservatories
Ceilings Main walls Surrounding environment
Walls and floors Windows and doors  
Chimney breasts and joinery Drainage and boundaries  

How long does an RICS Building Survey take?

The time from the initial quotation to the finished RICS building survey report will vary from property to property and will also depend on the company you choose to provide your survey.

To speed up the process, ensure there aren’t any complications when the surveyor arrives. Perform a quick access examination beforehand. For example, if the inspector needs to survey a loft, make sure they have a certified loft ladder to gain access to that area of the property.

How much does a Building Survey cost?

Most companies that offer RICS building surveys charge a similar amount, but you should still consider doing some background research on the company before choosing them.

Out of all the residential property surveys, the most comprehensive is an RICS Level 3 building survey.

Additional charges may be incurred if the surveyor lacks access to certain areas of the property and any potential difficulties should be clarified before the survey. That’s why an access examination is recommended before your survey date.  

Price will depend upon the size and type of property. For a competitive quotation, contact us today.

What is an RICS Building Survey (Level 3 Survey)?

Commonly known as a “Level 3” or “full structural survey”, an RICS Building Survey (supported by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) is the most in-depth survey available as it provides a comprehensive analysis of the property's condition and structure.

As it’s the most thorough survey, you can expect to pay more than a Level Two survey. However, you will want to consider this an investment as it can save you significant amounts of money in the long run. 

Example of an RICS Level 3 Building Survey

Is it worth getting a Level 3 Building Survey?

If you’re purchasing an old home that may have various defects or unwanted materials within it, you may wish to consider a Level 3 survey over the others.

Older properties may look appealing but can hide serious problems, invisible to the untrained eye. To avoid any unexpected repair bills, a Level 3 Building Survey is recommended when purchasing a home that:

  • is 80 or more years old
  • has an unusual design
  • is in visually poor condition.

Are There Other RICS Surveys Available?

As well as the comprehensive Level 3 Building survey, there are other surveys to consider.

RICS Level 2 HomeBuyer Survey Report

Arguably the Level 2 survey is the most popular within the industry. This is because it fits the criteria for most properties. This type of survey is suitable for a fairly standard house, between 10 and 40 years old, which looks visually sound and doesn’t have any clear indications of defects. 

During this survey you’ll receive an entire condition report, along with some extras. The surveyor will record a list of problems that may be wrong with the property and provide advice on repairs or ongoing maintenance.

Unlike the Level 3 Building Survey, Level Two is non-intrusive. This means the surveyor won’t look behind any furniture or inside cupboards, etc.

Before purchasing, you may be able to add this as an additional extra, but read the contract beforehand to ensure that you are investing in the service you require. 

Fore more information, see our article What is a HomeBuyer Survey Report?

RICS Level 2 Home Buyer Survey Report with Valuation

You will not only receive an RICS valuation survey, but also a confirmation report on the property's structure.

If you want to make sure that you are paying the market value and the rebuild cost for the insurance, this is the ideal survey.

RICS 'Red Book' Valuation

If you are looking to buy, sell, or re-mortgage your property, this is the best survey. It is also used in "Help to Buy", shared ownership transactions, and for inheritance tax purposes.

RICS 'Red Book' Valuation tells you whether you are paying a fair price for the property. However, it doesn’t give you any information on the structural integrity of the property.

At Camsure Home Surveys we offer RICS Level 2 Home Buyer Survey Report, RICS Level 2 Home Buyer Survey Report with Valuation, RICS 'Red Book' Valuation and RICS Level 3 Building Survey.

While the RICS 'Red Book' Valuation is offered as a standalone service, it can also be integrated into our RICS Level 3 Building Survey.

How Do I find a Good Building Surveyor?

What to look for

  • Accreditation
    Finding an excellent surveyor is key to getting a building survey. Typically, if a surveyor has certified RICS accreditation, you can relax. Find out why you should choose a RICS accredited surveyor
  • Recommendations
    If a family member or friend has recently hired a surveyor, ask about their experience. It’ll make the selection process much less stressful if you can follow a trusted recommendation.
  • Reviews
    In addition to testimonials found on surveyors' websites, check out trustworthy review websites too.
    Our customers have rated us on Trust Pilot, Really Moving, Compare My Move, and Google Reviews.
Find out how we can help you by contacting one of our helpful team members today on 01223 862808 or email us.

Useful Links

RICS - www.rics.org

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