Searches and Surveys

Surveys, searches and why they matter when you’re buying your home

Before making significant purchases, the majority of us will do some research to ensure we’re making the right decision. As buying a home is probably the biggest investment most of us will ever make, it’s particularly important to do a thorough investigation of the property before making a commitment. That’s where surveys and searches come in. These investigatory processes are designed to flag up any structural, legal or environmental issues that may affect the property now or in the future.


Docufind manages a network of RICS qualified chartered surveyors and an experienced team of both on-line and in the field researchers that find the necessary documents and information and provide the surveys required to guarantee peace of mind. To find out how we can help you contact us on 0333 090 7837 or email

The difference between surveys and searches

Though the terms ‘survey’ and ‘search’ are often used interchangeably they are quite different.


Your mortgage company will carry out its own survey of the property to make sure it’s worth the money you want to borrow. This survey doesn’t really give you the kind of information you need as the buyer of the property. For this reason, we would always advise you to have your own survey carried out. Surveys determine the physical condition of the property and are carried out by qualified surveyors. The main types of surveys are:

Condition Report – the lowest level building survey usually used for new properties and those in good condition.

Home buyer Report – more detailed, this survey is suitable for most properties. It looks at the overall structure and helps identify problems such as damp or subsidence and gives advice on repairs needed.

Full Building Survey – as the name suggests, this is the most comprehensive survey and is a particularly sensible option if you’re buying a property that is old or has known problems.

Whilst it’s great to know if a building is structurally sound, there are many other issues that could affect your future home that a survey does not cover. This additional information is gathered from searches.


Of course, you can do your own investigations by talking to local people and exploring the local area but if you need a mortgage your lender will normally insist upon a solicitor carrying out conveyancing searches. Even if you’re not purchasing a home with a mortgage, we would advise that you carry out searches as a matter of course. Though the location or condition of the property may sometimes necessitate specific searches and negate others, some of the more common ones include:

Local Authority – you don’t want to move into your dream home only to find out someone’s building a railway at the bottom of your garden. As well as checking out what’s under planning permission in the area, these searches can tell you about access road adoption, conservation or listed building issues or whether there is a right of way on the land, for example.

Land Registry – don’t take anything for granted. This check will ensure the seller is who they say they are and has permission to sell the property.

Flood Risk – an increasingly important issue in recent years, the risk could significantly affect your property and your home insurance premiums.

Water Authority – this will tell you whether you are connected to mains water and if there are any sewers near or within the boundaries of your home.

Chancel Repair Liability – though this obscure mediaeval law has been tightened up in recent years, there is still a chance that you may be obliged to contribute towards repairs of your local church (which in some cases can run into thousands of pounds).

Environmental – environmental problems can turn your dream home into a nightmare so you need to make sure there are no issues caused by industry, contamination from landfill sites and ground gases or any fracking or mines in the area which might affect ground stability.


Helping you make an informed decision

As another hurdle in the, often lengthy, house-buying process, surveys and searches may seem like a lot of red tape but conducting these comprehensive investigations is vital to help you make an informed decision and could save you significant trouble and expense in the future. If you want to minimise risk and ensure your prospective home will be a sound investment, our expert conveyancing solicitors can give you specialist advice and conduct relevant searches on your behalf. For more information, get in touch!