Homes Planning Home Improvement Survey condition ratings: what do they mean?

Survey condition ratings: what do they mean?

When buying a property, you will need to have a survey done, to satisfy your lender that the property is worth what you’re paying for it.

Many of these surveys use a traffic light system, indicating any concerns by using the colours red, orange and green, but not all surveyors use this system.

Rating 3

This equates to the colour red and demonstrates that there are serious causes for concern and urgent repairs or replacements are needed to the property. If you receive a red rating on your report, do not ignore it and take action immediately.

Rating 2

This equates to the colour orange and suggests that there are some problems which should be looked into, but that these are not serious or urgent. Always contact the buyer via the estate agent to discuss the options.

Rating 1

As you’d expect, this is in the green zone and indicates a satisfactory rating.


Surveyors are human and therefore their view is subjective and will be based on individual experience. It has also been suggested that some of the bigger firms insist that all mains utilities such as gas, electricity and water, are given a red rating until they are tested, as without testing, there is no guarantee of their condition.

If you’re looking to commission a homebuyers report Oxfordshire has plenty of reputable companies to choose from, such as SAM Conveyancing. These companies can advise clients on the most suitable report, explain report findings or answer queries.

To get a clearer understanding of what is included in a survey condition report, and to highlight how the traffic light system of ratings works, RICS offers a sample report:

Be warned

A surveyor will only be able to base their report on what they see, so if the building is old or unusual, it is worth paying extra to have a more detailed report. While this will cost more initially, it could end up saving you money in the long run.


If a report does come back with some red issues, then it is worth renegotiating any offer before deciding to go ahead with the purchase. Any renewed offer should include a reduction in the price to reflect the costs of putting anything right, or you should insist that certain work is carried out before completing the sale.

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