Home Survey Standard

RICS draft professional statement - Home Survey Standard

Appendix B: Benchmarking the levels of inspection

This appendix highlights a number of different elements in a typical property where the differences between the inspection levels are illustrated. This is not a comprehensive listing of what is or is not inspected. Instead, it provides critical benchmarks around which an RICS member's service can be built.

In all other respects, the RICS member should inspect all parts of the property appropriate to the level of service agreed with the client and the nature of the property.

Please note Single Survey Scotland variations apply. Refer to the RICS Property Inspection Technical Guidance for the Completion of Single Surveys.

Windows

Survey level

Description

Survey level one

 

Attempt to open only a limited sample of the windows – include one on each elevation.

Survey level two

 

Attempt to open a representative sample of the windows. For example, this might include one on each elevation and one of each different type of window where there is a variety.

 

Survey level three

 

Attempt to open most windows where possible.

General

In all cases, the RICS member only opens windows where:

  • permission has been given and
  • any keys/locks are available and are easy to operate without force or damage.

The presence of occupier possessions and heavy curtains will often restrict level one and two inspections. For level three, a small number of possessions/curtains will be repositioned. Where inspections are restricted, the RICS member must inform the client.


Roof Space

Survey level

Description

Survey level one

 

The RICS member will not remove secured access panels and/or lift insulation material, stored goods or other contents. The RICS member will visually inspect the parts of the roof structure and other features that can be seen from the access hatch.

Survey level two

 

In addition to that described for level one, the RICS member will enter the roof space and visually inspect the roof structure with attention paid to those parts vulnerable to deterioration and damage. In these places, a moisture meter will be used where it is considered appropriate.

Survey level three

 

The RICS member will enter the roof space and visually inspect the roof structure, with attention paid to those parts vulnerable to deterioration and damage. In these places, a moisture meter, pocket probe and magnifying glass will be used where it is considered appropriate.

Although thermal insulation is not moved, small corners may be lifted so its thickness and type, and the nature of the underlying ceiling can be identified (if the RICS member considers it safe to do so).

Where permission has been granted and it is safe, a small number of lightweight possessions may be repositioned so a more thorough inspection can take place.

General

The RICS member will carry out an inspection of roof space that is not more than three metres above floor level using a ladder if it is safe and reasonable to do so.

Energy efficiency initiatives have resulted in thick layers of thermal insulation in many roof spaces. Usually it is not safe to move across this material as it conceals joist positions, water and drainage pipes, wiring and other fittings. This may restrict the extent of the inspection and the scope of the report. Consequently, this matter should be discussed with the client at the earliest stage.

 

Floors

Survey level

Description

Survey level one

 

The RICS member will closely inspect the surfaces of exposed floors but will not lift carpets, floor coverings or floorboards, or move furniture. The RICS member will not lift hatches or carry out an ‘inverted head and shoulders’ inspection. The RICS member will assess floors for excessive deflection by a ‘heel-drop’ test and using an appropriately sized spirit level.

Survey level two

 

In addition to that described for level one, where floors have unfixed access hatches/panels or floorboards, the RICS member will inspect subfloor areas by an inverted ‘head and shoulders’ inspection (either physically or using mirrors, cameras and the like) where appropriate and it is safe to do so. RICS members will not enter the sub-floor area.

Survey level three

 

The RICS member will closely inspect the surfaces of exposed floors and will lift the corners of any loose and unfitted carpets or other floor coverings where practicable. The RICS member will assess all floors for excessive deflection by a ‘heel-drop’ test and using an appropriately sized spirit level. For a more complete assessment, it may be helpful to measure the magnitude of any identified deflection/slope.

Where the subfloor is inspected, an inverted ‘head and shoulders’ inspection will be carried out at the access point (either physically or using mirrors, cameras and the like). If it is safe to do so, the RICS member will enter the under-floor area to carry out a more thorough inspection. In this respect, ‘safe to do so’ can be defined as:

  • a minimum of one metre between the floor void surface and the underside of the joists and
  • an adequately sized access panel
  • a lack of obvious hazards in the floor void (for example, sharp and uneven oversite, hazardous and obstructive electric cables or gas pipes, and so on).

 

Furniture and possessions

Survey level

Description

Survey level one

 

The RICS member will not move furniture or possessions.

Survey level two

 

The RICS member will not move furniture or possessions.

 

Survey level three

 

The RICS member will move lightweight, easily moveable, non-fitted items where practicable and safe, and where the occupier gives permission.

 

Services

Survey level

Description

Survey level one

 

The RICS member will not lift inspection chamber covers.

Survey level two

 

The RICS member will lift accessible inspection chamber covers (where it is safe to do so) and visually inspect the chamber(s).

 

Survey level three

 

The RICS member will lift accessible inspection chamber covers (where it is safe to do so) and observe the normal operation of the services in everyday use. This will be restricted where properties are empty, drained down and services disconnected. Assuming all services are connected and fully and safely functioning, ‘normal operation’ usually includes:

  • when the RICS member considers it appropriate to the assessment of the system, turning on water taps, running sinks, baths, bidets and basins, and flushing toilets to observe the performance of visible pipework and
  • operating lights and extractor fans where appropriate
  • where appropriate, asking the occupier to switch on the heating appliances/system
  • lifting accessible inspection chamber covers to drains and septic tanks and so on (where it is safe to do so), identifying the nature of the connections and observing water flow where a water supply is available.

General

The RICS member does not perform or comment on design calculations or test the service installations or appliances in any way. At all levels, inspection chamber covers in common areas of flats are not lifted.

In all cases, the RICS member will advise the client that further tests and inspections will be required if the occupier does not provide evidence of appropriate installation and/or maintenance, or the client requires assurance as to their condition, capability and safety.

 

The grounds

Survey level

Description

Survey level one

 

RICS members will carry out a visual inspection of the grounds during a general walk around, and where necessary and appropriate, from adjoining public property. The assessment should include external features relevant to the instruction and requests from the client.

The inspection should also include the inside and outside of all permanent outbuildings not attached to the main dwelling, where access is possible, relevant to the instruction and client requests.

RICS members will use appropriate methods and equipment to inspect a roof that is not visible from a window or another part of the building, and that is not more than three metres above ground level if it is safe and reasonable to do so.

Survey level two

 

In addition to that described for level one, RICS members should perform a thorough visual inspection of the grounds, and, where necessary and appropriate, from adjoining public property.

Survey level three

 

As in level two, the RICS member should perform a thorough inspection of the grounds and, where necessary and appropriate, from adjoining property.

Specific defective features and other matters associated with the grounds can be costly to resolve and may affect the client’s purchase decision. Consequently, the RICS member should fully account for these during a level three service and be prepared to follow the trail of suspected problems to a greater extent than at levels one and two. Examples include assessing retaining walls in danger of collapsing, deeply sunken paths or driveways, and dilapidated boundary walls or fences, as well as the legal and insurance implications.