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Description of the RICS HomeBuyer Service
The RICS HomeBuyer Service includes:
• an inspection of the property (see ‘The inspection’);
• a report based on the inspection (see ‘The report’); and
• a valuation, which is part of the report (see ‘The valuation’).
The surveyor who provides the RICS HomeBuyer Service aims to give you professional
advice to help you to:
• make an informed decision on whether to go ahead with buying the property;
• make an informed decision on what is a reasonable price to pay
for the property;
• take account of any repairs or replacements the property needs; and
• consider what further advice you should take before committing
to purchase the property.
The surveyor inspects the inside and outside of the main building and all permanent
outbuildings, but does not force or open up the fabric. This means that the surveyor does
not take up carpets, floor coverings or floorboards, move furniture, remove the contents of
cupboards, roof spaces, etc., remove secured panels and/or hatches or undo electrical fittings.
If necessary, the surveyor carries out parts of the inspection when standing at ground level from
public property next door where accessible.
The surveyor may use equipment such as a damp-meter, binoculars and torch, and may use a
ladder for flat roofs and for hatches no more than 3 metres above level ground (outside) or floor
surfaces (inside) if it is safe to do so.
Services to the property
Services are generally hidden within the construction of the property. This means that only the
visible parts of the available services can be inspected, and the surveyor does not carry out
specialist tests. The visual inspection cannot assess the efficiency or safety of electrical, gas or
other energy sources; plumbing, heating or drainage installations (or whether they meet current
regulations); or the inside condition of any chimney, boiler or other flue.
Outside the property
The surveyor inspects the condition of boundary walls, fences, permanent outbuildings and
areas in common (shared) use. To inspect these areas, the surveyor walks around the grounds
and any neighbouring public property where access can be obtained.
Buildings with swimming pools and sports facilities are also treated as permanent outbuildings,
but the surveyor does not report on the leisure facilities, such as the pool itself and its equipment,
landscaping and other facilities (for example, tennis courts and temporary outbuildings).
When inspecting flats, the surveyor assesses the general condition of outside surfaces of the
building, as well as its access areas (for example, shared hallways and staircases). The surveyor
inspects roof spaces only if they are accessible from within the property. The surveyor does not
inspect drains, lifts, fire alarms and security systems.
Dangerous materials, contamination and environmental issues
The surveyor does not make any enquiries about contamination or other environmental
dangers. However, if the surveyor suspects a problem, he or she should recommend a
The surveyor may assume that no harmful or dangerous materials have been used in the
construction, and does not have a duty to justify making this assumption. However, if the
inspection shows that these materials have been used, the surveyor must report this and ask for
The surveyor does not carry out an asbestos inspection and does not act as an asbestos
inspector when inspecting properties that may fall within the Control of Asbestos Regulations
2006. With flats, the surveyor assumes that there is a ‘dutyholder’ (as defined in the regulations),
and that in place are an asbestos register and an effective management plan which does not
present a significant risk to health or need any immediate payment. The surveyor does not
consult the dutyholder.
The surveyor produces a report of the inspection for you to use, but cannot accept any liability if
it is used by anyone else. If you decide not to act on the advice in the report, you do this at your
own risk. The report focuses on matters that, in the surveyor’s opinion, may affect the value of
the property if they are not addressed.
The report is in a standard format and includes the following sections.
A Introduction to the report
B About the inspection
C Overall opinion and summary of the condition ratings
D About the property
E Outside the property
F Inside the property
H Grounds (including shared areas for flats)
I Issues for your legal advisers
L Surveyor’s declaration
What to do now
Description of the RICS HomeBuyer Service
Typical house diagram
The surveyor gives condition ratings to the main parts (the ‘elements’) of the main building,
garage and some outside elements. The condition ratings are described as follows.
Condition rating 3 – defects that are serious and/or need to be repaired, replaced or
Condition rating 2 – defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered to be
either serious or urgent. The property must be maintained in the normal way.
Condition rating 1 – no repair is currently needed. The property must be maintained
in the normal way.
NI – not inspected.
The surveyor notes in the report if it was not possible to check any parts of the property that the
inspection would normally cover. If the surveyor is concerned about these parts, the report tells
you about any further investigations that are needed.
The surveyor does not report on the cost of any work to put right defects or make
recommendations on how these repairs should be carried out. However, there is general advice
in the ‘What to do now’ section at the end of the report.
The surveyor has not prepared the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) as part of the RICS
HomeBuyer Service for the property. If the surveyor has seen the current EPC, he or she will
present the energy-efficiency and environmental impact ratings in this report. The surveyor does
not check the ratings and cannot comment on their accuracy.
Issues for legal advisors
The surveyor does not act as ‘the legal adviser’ and does not comment on any legal documents.
If, during the inspection, the surveyor identifies issues that your legal advisers may need to
investigate further, the surveyor may refer to these in the report (for example, check whether
there is a warranty covering replacement windows).
This report has been prepared by a surveyor (‘the Employee’) on behalf of a firm or company of
surveyors (‘the Employer’). The statements and opinions expressed in this report are expressed
on behalf of the Employer, who accepts full responsibility for these.
Without prejudice and separately to the above, the Employee will have no personal liability in
respect of any statements and opinions contained in this report, which shall at all times remain
the sole responsibility of the Employer to the exclusion of the Employee.
In the case of sole practitioners, the surveyor may sign the report in his or her own name unless
the surveyor operates as a sole trader limited liability company.
To the extent that any part of this notification is a restriction of liability within the meaning of the Unfair
Contract Terms Act 1977 it does not apply to death or personal injury resulting from negligence.
This section summarises defects and issues that present a risk to the building or grounds, or a
safety risk to people. These may have been reported and condition rated against more than one
part of the property or may be of a more general nature, having existed for some time and which
cannot reasonably be changed.
If the property is leasehold, the surveyor gives you general advice and details of questions you
should ask your legal advisers.
The surveyor gives an opinion on both the Market Value of the property and the reinstatement
cost at the time of the inspection (see the ‘Reinstatement cost’ section).
‘Market Value’ is the estimated amount for which a property should exchange on the date of the
valuation between a willing buyer and a willing seller, in an arm’s length transaction after the
property was properly marketed wherein the parties had each acted knowledgeably, prudently
and without compulsion.
When deciding on the Market Value, the surveyor also makes the following assumptions.
The materials, construction, services, fixtures and fittings, and so on
The surveyor assumes that:
• an inspection of those parts that have not yet been inspected would not identify significant
defects or cause the surveyor to alter the valuation;
• no dangerous or damaging materials or building techniques have been used in the property;
• there is no contamination in or from the ground, and the ground has not been used as landfill;
• the property is connected to, and has the right to use, the mains services mentioned in the
• the valuation does not take account of any furnishings, removable fittings and sales incentives
of any description.
The surveyor assumes that:
• the property is sold with ‘vacant possession’ (your legal advisers can give you more
information on this term);
• the condition of the property, or the purpose that the property is or will be used for, does
not break any laws;
• no particularly troublesome or unusual restrictions apply to the property, that the property is
not affected by problems which would be revealed by the usual legal enquiries and that all
necessary planning and Building Regulations permissions (including permission to make
alterations) have been obtained and any works undertaken comply with such permissions;
• the property has the right to use the mains services on normal terms, and that the sewers,
mains services and roads giving access to the property have been ‘adopted’ (that is, they are
under local-authority, not private, control).
The surveyor reports any more assumptions that have been made or found not to apply.
If the property is leasehold, the general advice referred to earlier explains what other
assumptions the surveyor has made.
Reinstatement cost is the cost of rebuilding an average home of the type and style inspected
to its existing standard using modern materials and techniques and in line with current Building
Regulations and other legal requirements.
This includes the cost of rebuilding any garage, boundary or retaining walls and permanent
outbuildings, and clearing the site. It also includes professional fees, but does not include VAT
(except on fees).
The reinstatement cost helps you decide on the amount of buildings insurance cover you will
need for the property.
Standard terms of engagement
1 The service – the surveyor provides the standard RICS HomeBuyer Service (‘the service’)
described in the ‘Description of the RICS HomeBuyer Service’, unless you and the surveyor
agree in writing before the inspection that the surveyor will provide extra services. Any extra
service will require separate terms of engagement to be entered into with the surveyor.
Examples of extra services include:
• costing of repairs;
• schedules of works;
• supervision of works;
• detailed specific issue reports; and
• market valuation (after repairs).
2 The surveyor – the service is to be provided by an AssocRICS, MRICS or FRICS member of
the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, who has the skills, knowledge and experience to
survey, value and report on the property.
3 Before the inspection – you tell the surveyor if there is already an agreed or proposed
price for the property, and if you have any particular concerns (such as plans for extension)
about the property.
4 Terms of payment – you agree to pay the surveyor’s fee and any other charges agreed
5 Cancelling this contract – you are entitled to cancel this contract by giving notice to the
surveyor’s office at any time before the day of the inspection. The surveyor does not provide
the service (and reports this to you as soon as possible) if, after arriving at the property, the
surveyor decides that:
(a) he or she lacks enough specialist knowledge of the method of construction used to build
the property; or
(b) it would be in your best interests to have a building survey and a valuation, rather than
the RICS HomeBuyer Service.
If you cancel this contract, the surveyor will refund any money you have paid for the service,
except for any reasonable expenses. If the surveyor cancels this contract, he or she will
explain the reason to you.
6 Liability – the report is provided for your use, and the surveyor cannot accept responsibility if
it is used, or relied upon, by anyone else.
Complaints handling procedure
The surveyor will have a complaints handling procedure and will give you a copy if you ask.
Note: These terms form part of the contract between you and the surveyor.
This report is for use in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
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