What You Need to Know

Our guide to house surveys

Why should I choose Morton Blair Chartered Surveyors?

Morton Blair are a small firm and our surveyors, Richard Blair and Frances Morton, enjoy getting to know our clients and understanding their needs and expectations prior to carrying out each house survey. In a world of large, corporate organisations, we recognise the value in working closely with individuals and would like every client to feel that they have received a high level, personal service from us.

Unlike many surveying firms, we have chosen not to use referral websites or pay commission for referrals as this allows us to interact with clients directly and ensures the full fee you pay goes towards the survey itself. We recognise that a survey can be a significant cost at an already expensive time, and it is important to us that you feel your survey has been worthwhile and good value for money.

We recognise that, for many people, buying a house is something you only do a handful of times and so we don’t expect you to know what you need or what a house survey involves when you contact us. We are here to help and can draw on our extensive experience to guide you towards the most suitable survey for you and the property you are buying.

We especially enjoy working with first time buyers, providing guidance for those who are new to the joys of home ownership.

Morton Blair have been carrying out house surveys since 1999. With our extensive experience and knowledge of the local market, you can rest assured you are in safe hands.


Do I need to get an independent house survey?

There is no legal obligation to obtain an independent house survey but purchasing a property without full knowledge of its condition dramatically increases the risk of significant unexpected expenditure. Consumer organisations, mortgage lenders and conveyancing solicitors will all recommend you commission your own house survey prior to purchase. As well as covering major defects, a house survey will provide detailed information on the condition of elements such as the roof, windows, heating system and electrics, all of which could require considerable expenditure.

The majority of houses have issues but an independent house survey reduces the level of risk and helps you plan for the future.

Isn't my mortgage lender carrying out a house survey?

In short - no. Even among property professionals, the terms ‘mortgage valuation’ and ‘survey’ are used interchangeably. This can create confusion for purchasers but there is a significant difference between the two and the report produced for your mortgage lender is not the same as an independent house survey.

A mortgage valuation report is carried out for your mortgage lender even though you may have to pay for it. It is based around a very limited inspection and provides the lender with the basic information they require to make a lending decision. The mortgage valuation report sometimes includes basic information on the construction and condition of the property, the market value, and any significant issues that require immediate repair to protect the property. You may not receive a copy of the mortgage valuation report and, even if you do, it will not contain the detail you would expect in a house survey. It is important to note that the surveyor is not acting for you in a mortgage valuation and therefore you cannot rely on the mortgage valuation report.

In contrast, an independent house survey is carried out for individual purchasers and includes a detailed inspection and an extensive report on the condition of each element of the property. This will give you a clear picture of the house you are buying and help you to anticipate works that are required and to budget for these. Depending on the level of house survey, it may also include advice from the surveyor, photographs and a valuation. This house survey report is confidential to you and is a report you can rely upon.

Relying on a mortgage valuation report to highlight any issues with a property is very risky as the limited inspection means critical issues can be overlooked. For example, roof space inspections are not included as standard in mortgage valuation reports even though serious defects can occur unseen in the roof void. In contrast, during a. RICS Level 2 Home Survey inspection, the surveyor will fully enter the roof space (where it is safe to do) and uncover any issues.

So, to summarise, your mortgage valuation report is not the same as a house survey and you should get a house survey for your own information and protection.

How do I know which type of house survey to choose?

The descriptions on our Home Surveys page detail what each type of house survey includes and for which properties it is most suitable.  You can also contact us and Richard or Frances who will advise you. Please include the address of the property you wish to have surveyed in your email so that we can tailor our advice.

How much does a house survey cost?

The cost of a house survey depends on the size and age of the property and reflects the amount of time it will take the surveyor to carry out the inspection and prepare the report. By contacting us directly, you can ensure that all of your fee goes towards a quality house survey report rather than third party referral fees.

As a guide

  • RICS Level 1 Home Surveys (previously RICS Condition Report) start from £250+ VAT
  • RICS Level 2 Home Surveys (previously RICS Homebuyer Report) start from around £300+ VAT


These figures are provided as a guide only and the exact cost will depend on the property you are purchasing. Please contact us to speak to Richard or Frances and obtain an accurate quote.


Where do you carry out house surveys?

We work from our home office just outside Ballymena but carry out home surveys and residential valuations in Belfast, Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus, Larne, Ballymena, Antrim, Ballyclare, Bangor, Newtownards, Lisburn and surrounding areas. There are no additional charges for travel to these areas. 

If you are unsure whether we carry out house surveys in your area, please contact us to speak to Richard or Frances.

When should I instruct the house survey?

We would always recommend you instruct an independent house survey early in the purchase process. This reduces the pressure to make a quick decision and allows you time to carry out any further investigations and fully consider if this is the right property for you. Getting a house survey early in the process will also save you money on legal fees if you decide not to proceed with the purchase.

What is your lead time for a house survey?

Our surveyors usually carry out house survey inspections within 3-5 working days after receiving your formal instruction, although this may be longer during busy periods. There is documentation which we require to be returned prior to booking the survey inspection so please factor this in when you are planning to instruct a house survey. This is an RICS Regulatory requirement and is common to all surveying practices, however our documentation can be emailed to make this process quicker and more efficient.

We understand there is often pressure from vendors, estate agents and solicitors when buying a property so we’ll let you know when the inspection is booked and when you can expect the house survey report. That way, you can keep everyone informed.

When will the house survey report be ready?

We aim to have your RICS Home Survey report ready within 5 working days after the inspection, although during busy periods this may take slightly longer. Some surveyors sell their services on quick turnaround times but, generally, this does not give the surveyor time to fully reflect on their findings and ensure each report is prepared to the highest standard. Whilst we may take a little longer than some larger firms, our surveyors pride themselves on producing meaningful house survey reports that are specific to each property.

Do you test services during the house survey?

All our house surveys include a visual inspection of services, however surveyors are not qualified to test services and no RICS Home Survey can provide this option.

Why do you recommend further investigations in your house surveys?

Sometimes, it is necessary for surveyors to advise clients to obtain a further report on an element of the property as the particular defect requires specialist knowledge or destructive investigations. This is akin to your GP referring you to a specialist consultant to deal with a specific health problem. It is usually easier and more economical to obtain a general house survey followed by specialist reports, where required, than to ask a range of specialists to inspect the property on the off-chance there is an issue.

Can I speak to the surveyor after the inspection?

We like to talk to our clients to get a feel for their knowledge and expectations but, equally, we understand that not everyone has time or wants to talk on the phone. When you instruct your house survey, please advise if you’d like a post-inspection telephone call from the surveyor to summarise their findings prior to receiving the survey report. There is no additional cost for this service. We also welcome contact from you after you have received the survey report if you would like clarification on any points or would like to have a general chat about the property.

Can I meet the surveyor at the property?

If you would like to meet the surveyor at the property we can facilitate this although we do ask that you obtain the vendor’s permission in advance. We recommend that clients meet the surveyor towards the end of their inspection as the inspection can take a significant amount of time and concentration. This will allow the surveyor to provide you with a clear summary and talk you through their findings.

How do I instruct you to carry out a house survey?

If you would like to instruct an independent house survey, please contact us by email or phone to speak to Richard or Frances.

The estate agent doesn’t understand why I’m getting a house survey. Why not?

Independent house surveys can make estate agents nervous as they worry the sale will fall through or the purchaser will ask for a reduction in price. However, it is not unreasonable for a purchaser to want to find out exactly what they are buying and what repair works they can expect to carry out. All consumer and property-related organisations strongly advise that you obtain an independent house survey for your own protection so don’t feel pressurised into proceeding without one.