If you think you’ve found your dream home in the South of France, an important question will no doubt spring to mind – do I need a property survey, and, if so, which one?


There are indeed three main types of building survey report you can commission as a potential buyer – a Condition Report (Level 1), a Homebuyer Report (Level 2), and a Full Structural Survey (Level 3). 


In this post, we’ll look at what each of these different types of professional property survey entail and consider which one is most suited for your potential purchase.

What Is a House Survey?

In simple terms, a house survey is a thorough inspection of a property’s overall condition. It is conducted by a professional property surveyor, who will produce a detailed report outlining precisely what issues there are with the property so you can make an informed decision about the purchase. Depending on the type of survey you choose, your property survey report will tell if you if there are any problems with the property that you will have to address – from minor remedial works to significant structural defects.


House surveys are the only way you can get an unbiased opinion on what alterations may be needed to the property – whether it’s seeing to a damp patch on one of the outside walls or replacing the whole roof.

Do I Need a House Survey?

Not by law – and not even by convention in France, either. House surveys aren’t “the done thing” in France like they are in other parts of the world. However, this doesn’t mean that commissioning a professional property survey before purchase isn’t important.


On the contrary. House surveys benefit buyers in no uncertain terms. A property that looks perfect on the outside may very well be falling to bits beneath the paint and plasterwork. A house survey will determine whether or not this is the case.


Buying a house is, of course, a huge financial commitment, which you need to get right. A survey will ensure you avoid potentially expensive surprises – and provide you with the peace of mind you need to go ahead with the purchase. In addition, being armed with a professional home survey report that outlines all the defects discovered in the property puts you in a strong position to negotiate on the asking price.

What Type of Survey Should I Choose?

There are three main types of house survey you can commission. Which one you choose will depend mostly on the age and condition of your property.


Level 1 – Formerly known as the Condition Report, Level 1 is the most basic survey available. As such, it is also the cheapest. This type of survey is most suitable for new build properties that are in good condition. Level 1 reports provides a “traffic light” rating system of the various parts of the property, intended to reveal what needs attention. It doesn’t go into much detail, however, and doesn’t include a valuation.


Level 2 – This mid-level survey was previously known as the Homebuyer Report. It is the most sensible choice for properties over 5 years old in reasonable condition. It covers everything in the Level 1 report, plus roof spaces and cellars. As well as the traffic lights, you also get recommendations for further investigations that may be required, as well as advice on the budgets for any repairs that may need to be carried out. Level 2 reports also include a valuation.


Level 3 – The most detailed survey available, the Level 3 survey was formerly known as a Full Structural Survey. It is the ideal option for older properties or those in visible need of repair. It is also advised that you commission a Level 3 survey if you are considering extending the property or undertaking significant renovations.

Charles Mackintosh RICS Chartered South of France Property Surveyor

If you’re looking for a professional surveyor to inspect your property before purchase, Charles Mackintosh is at your service. With over 30 years’ experience living and operation in the South of France, Charles provides highly regarded English language property surveys and advice for overseas buyers. Get in touch today for more information.