What is the difference between a household survey and a valuation?

Buying a house can be a stressful time, especially if you are going through the process for the very first time. There are lots of different parties involved, lots of money being spent and a lot of jargon associated with buying a house that you may not be particularly familiar with. For first time buyers this can all mount up to quite a big headache, especially as you do not want to waste any money and want to remain in control of the whole process.

Within the process of buying a house there are certain things that will need doing and you will be advised by different parties about the best way to go about it. Many people who do not understand exactly what is going on may try to save face and will simply nod and smile through the numerous meetings with the estate agent and bank. The biggest confusion is often surrounding surveyors – especially as a ‘survey’ conducted by your mortgage provider is not necessarily a survey on the condition of the house. So what is this survey and how does it differ from a household survey?

Valuation Survey

A surveyor has two main roles within the process of you buying a house; first they will provide a valuation and secondly they will conduct a survey on the property. Generally speaking, the ‘survey’ that your bank or mortgage provider will commission is a valuation. This tells them that the property they are lending you the money for is worth its market value and that their loan to you is appropriate. This valuation does not offer any benefit or value to you as the buyer, however many people do not realise this and consider the valuation that was completed can take the place of a full survey.


It’s very important for your sake as a buyer that you get a professional chartered surveyor to complete a survey of the property you are looking to buy. This process involves going around the house and inspecting all the elements of the property that may lead to potential problems in the future. The survey may also show factors that pose an imminent risk to the property and therefore its value.

The idea of these surveys is to make sure that the house you are buying does not have any faults that may effect its value or indeed the price you are paying for it. Common issues found include widespread damp, subsidence and structural flaws – all which cost a substantial amount of money to put right. The surveyor will generally produce a document that details any of these issues and the cost that it would be to put it right, you can then go and negotiate a fairer price for the house with the estate agent. If it is found that you will need to do a lot of work yourself to restore the condition of the house, you should be able to negotiate a discount on the asking price. The alternative to the discount is the work being completed before the sale is fully agreed, leaving you with a house that is fit for purpose and one that matches its asking price.

Whatever the property is you are buying, a survey will benefit you and ensure that you are paying the fairest price for the property. A valuation is of benefit to the bank and the bank alone, it offers no feasible value to yourself and has little impact on your processes, so make sure that you organize a survey if you want to be sure you are not moving into a house with a few hidden secrets.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer in the property industry – working together with a selection of companies including Brian Gale Surveyors, who were consulted over the information contained here.

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