Building Surveying
Apr 26, 2024

Understanding the Difference Between Level 2 and Level 3 Building Surveys

It is essential to know the condition of a property that you are intending to buy since it is a big investment. Building ...

It is essential to know the condition of a property that you are intending to buy since it is a big investment. Building surveys play a vital role in giving insight on the condition of a given property. Nonetheless, many purchasers grapple with choosing between level 3 and level 2 surveys.

A level three survey is slightly more expensive than level two. On average, this costs around £500 - £1000 for Level 2 surveys where it is roughly £600 - £1,500 for Level 3 surveys. We will now look at the main differences between these two types of surveys in detail through this complete guide.

Level 2 Building Surveys

A general Homebuyer’s report (Level 2) is appropriate for conventional properties that are already considered to be in acceptable condition. This type of survey mainly focuses on identifying major problems potentially missed and which have a serious effect on the value of the house. This involves reporting on such elements as roofs, walls and flooring which form part of the structure.

A Level 2 survey is different to a basic mortgage valuation (the latter is not an assessment of the property condition). It is also less detailed than a level three inspection. This exercise does not require too much investigation into domestic buildings that are already established as being in relatively good shape.

This survey primarily entails visually inspecting a building for surface-level issues. It applies well to traditional buildings in good condition (i.e. those constructed during last century, having been reasonably preserved and not extensively altered).

During inspection, surveyors do not lift fixed floors or drill through walls but provide guidance concerning visible defects and whether further investigation is required.

Level 3 Building Surveys

Formerly known as structural surveys, level three building surveys cover wider areas compared to other types of inspection, hence suitable for old structures or complex types of houses. These surveys provide comprehensive information regarding the building’s structure such as less visible elements like roof spaces and foundation stability.

Level 3 surveys entail thorough investigations into possible defects like subsidence, structural movement, and concealed dampness. For example, during a Level 3 Building Survey one of the surveyors on our panel undertook, they uncovered hidden defects relating to the strength of the foundation and which posed risks to its structural integrity and value.

It is important to note that a level 2 survey is less detailed compared to a level 3 survey. It is usually done on properties which are older, larger or have more unusual features thus requiring a more in-depth assessment. The inspection will be extensive and cover all areas that can be accessed such as lofts and basements.

A Full Building Survey report is more comprehensive since it provides extra information other reports do not include. In addition to pointing out visible issues as well as probable concerns, an expert surveyor might advise you on what repairs should be done and the maintenance implications thereafter. Additionally, the report may contain indicative costs for remedial actions recommended by the surveyor if agreed prior, although this is typically an extra cost.

Statistics and Case Studies

According to a survey, about 70% of property buyers go for Level 2 surveys while only 30% opt for Level 3 surveys. This suggests that most property purchasers prefer the less elaborate level 2 survey over the more detailed one on the basis of price differences (be it marginal).

In some real-life examples, one buyer settled for a level three survey and discovered important defects that prevented them from making a bad investment. In this case, there was a potential acquisition of an old property with a complex structure which might not have been adequately covered by the level two survey. The choice of a level three survey led to more comprehensive research with respect to its foundations, revealing hidden structural defects which greatly impacted its integrity and value if left unfixed. 

Level 3 surveys are invaluable for properties with difficult issues or those requiring substantial alterations and which are less commonly for level 2 surveys. Consequently, when choosing between these two options, aspects such as type and age of the property should be taken into account alongside the purchaser’s budget and future plans on the premises.


For property buyers, having the right survey level is of course very helpful. Standard buildings can be covered by level two surveys, which give general information on their condition, while higher-priced or aged ones with complicated structures are likely to need more detailed examination and that’s why there are level three surveys for you to pick and choose from when purchasing property.