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
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;
• 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. Due care is therefore exercised throughout the Inspection regarding safety, practicality and the constraints of being a visitor to the Property (which may be occupied).
The surveyor may use equipment such as a moisture resistance 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 further investigation.
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 further instructions.
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 area for flats)
I Issues for your legal advisers
K Valuation (in this instance no valuation will be undertaken)
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 investigated urgently.
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 will note 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).
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 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.
The reinstatement cost for insurance purposes derived from data supplied by the Building Cost Information Service (BCIS), except where:
• the property is very large or historic
• where it incorporates special features
• if it is of an less usual construction not covered by BCIS data
In these circumstances a specialist would be needed to assess the reinstatement cost.
The reinstatement cost helps you decide on the amount of buildings insurance cover you will need for the property.