Professional negligence solicitor, Emma Slade reports the potential for HomeBuyers Report Professional Negligence

To date, there have only been three types of survey that a new home buyer can obtain: a full structural survey (FSS), a HomeBuyers survey or a plain valuation. The HomeBuyers survey was introduced by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to bridge the gap between a FSS and a valuation – the FSS being an expensive and time consuming project whilst the valuation was merely that and gave no indication of the state of the property.

However, the HomeBuyers Report has attracted criticism for being relatively limited. They merely give an assessment of the condition of the main parts property and the occasional recommendation.

This has set the RICS development team thinking and their response is to introduce another form of report: The RICS Condition Report.

Like the HomeBuyers Report, the Condition Report it will provide an assessment of the condition of the property but will also comment on

  • The construction and condition of the property at the date of inspection
  • Any defects in need of urgent attention
  • Any serious defects
  • Things that need further investigation to prevent serious damage to the property
  • Recommendations about likely contamination or environmental dangers
  • Potential issues that a legal advisor should consider
  • Defects that could be considered a safety risk

It will be interesting to see how the new report is received. Whether it causes a reduction in homebuyers report negligence and/or claims for negligence against surveyors will remain to be seen.


Help my survey was appalling,Renewed windows that are pvc look older then me,although they did say however repairs and replacements need attention but that don't mean they have been renewed as the seals to take the glass out are on the outside.And to say windows that have been renewed could also need repairing or replacing these was defiantly not.They said there were no defects to the interiors, not true ,cracks in lintels and walls,rotting timbers Knocked to my loft rafters, not even mentioned,in fact the loft was never mentioned.I have combi boiler fitted to a studded wall were my walls have been cracking.Kitchen units are rubbish, very brief comment made on them.And to top it all Carbon fumes around my fireplace.All done with an Home buyers Survey.I must have money to burn.I think it was you've been framed,so please tell me i can sue.I know Surveyors link up what they have seen with that what they have not seen to cover themselves. All done by Colleys Surveyors,well done Lads

Thanks for your comment Philip.

There are 2 main issues you need to consider when looking at a claim in respect of a Homebuyers Report.

First, you need to consider whether the contents of the report itself fell below the standard you can reasonably expect from a surveyor carrying out this kind of survey. I would be happy to review the report free of charge if you would like to scan and email it to me. For other people reading this forum the ultimate test of whether a surveyor has got it wrong is to seek input from another surveyor. Lawyers call this 'expert evidence'. If the expert feels that the report falls below the standards that can reasonably be expected then that is the first major hurdle overcome.

The second point relates to loss. With any professional negligence claim you have to examine the loss that has been suffered as a result of the breach. This can be tricky, but a useful starting point in a case like this is to consider what you would have done if the report had correctly identified all the issues. Perhaps you may have decided to go back to the seller to renegotiate the price? Again expert evidence can help in quantifying a claim.

Don't forget that the Government has recently increased the Small Claims Court limit from £5,000 to £10,000. The new limit catches many of the smaller professional negligence claims and we advise people with such claims to 'do it themselves' so as to avoid having to pay legal costs. Legal costs aren't recoverable in the SCC so the usual no win, no fee arrangements don't usually operate.

I hope this assists.

Lee Dawkins

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