/ Home & Energy

Are Home Reports in Scotland working for you?

Question mark on house

Buying a home is the biggest purchase most of us ever make, yet people in Scotland often purchased with less information than they’d look for if they were buying a new TV. Were Home Reports the answer?

Now that the housing market’s recovering, many of us are starting to think about moving. Whether it’s trading up, down-sizing or just getting that first step on the property ladder, most of us have a strong interest in what’s happening with the housing market.

However, like lots of people across the UK, nearly 95% of homebuyers in Scotland bought with almost no useful info on the condition of their new property. This meant they could easily find themselves landed with a large repair bill once they got the keys.

That’s why Which? decided to campaign for Home Reports in 2005. These would include a questionnaire on the condition of the property being sold (filled out by the seller) and a survey, which would give further information on the condition of the house. They’d also include a valuation, so that potential buyers would be better able to judge the real value of the property.

What about England and Wales?

Ahead of the implementation of Home Information Packs (HIPs) in England and Wales (a variant of Scottish Home Reports) in 2008, it was decided that they would not include a condition survey. However, since this made HIPs much less useful, it was no real surprise that they were abolished just two years later by the Government.

And yes, that means there’s no legal requirement in England and Wales for a seller to provide information upfront to a buyer about the property for sale, other than an Energy Performance Certificate. But the Scottish Government decided to keep the survey as part of the Home Report, and in 2008 they became compulsory and they are now paid for by the seller.

Your experience of Home Reports

The Scottish Government is now asking people who’ve bought a property in Scotland over the past five years whether Home Reports are doing a good job. Are they informing you of potential issues with your new home? Are they helping you understand in advance how much cash you’d need to spend on immediate, or not so immediate, problems?

To help us influence the future of Home Reports in Scotland, we want to hear from you. So if you’ve bought or sold a house in Scotland over the past few years, what was your experience of Home Reports? And for everyone else, what type of information would you like before you purchase a property?

Please mention what part of the country you’re in and whether you’ve been directly affected by Home Reports in your comment.


I had a home report made up 1st September 2014, property on market end of Sept. Offer made on property 10th April 2015 and accepted. 3 weeks ago I had a call from solicitor buyers bank want a type 1 survey done on my property the Home Report is only seven months old at this time, I presumed that the Home Report was valid for up to two years? On the back of my Home Report in very small writing they advise to have it updated every 12 weeks. Surveyor came and did a type 1 survey, we have still not had a copy (and we are supposed to be paying for this). Solicitor telephoned to advise that they think the survey was below our Home Report no indication was given as to how much below price we had. Our adverts now say under offer. So how do I stand about this, are the buyers still to buy, will other potential buyers be put off looking as its under offer, I could be losing potential buyers. Where do I stand please help and answer my questions Thank you for reading.

We bought our property in February 2014 and were excited 1st time buyers. The house needed updating and we were prepared to take this on over time to make it our family home.
The home report was a great idea and we thought as these were put in place by the government there was no need to instruct an independent surveyor. As you would expect the report was full of category 1’s and mentioned would require capital to upgrade which we knew. The outside wall and main roof were a 2. The main roof required some pointing on the ridges which the seller claimed was fixed prior to the purchase. The only mention of the flat roof over the kitchen extension was that it would require higher than normal maintenance costs, which everyone expects from a flat roof.
The property had been extended with a flat roof kitchen extension with a decking balcony on top. To access the balcony the 2nd bedroom window had been removed in the past and a set of patio doors in its place. Fast forward 7 months later with a leak into the living room. The insurer called out a roofer who informed us the patio doors had been fitted very poorly and the wood round about them was rotten and the edging around the flat roof had failed. He asked if there was planning permission in place as we needed to make sure the roof had enough strength to support the weight of the balcony and the hand railings were not safe. We presumed had been looked into by our conveyancer but it was at this point we realised the surveyor had not even noted the balcony or the patio doors in the home report.
We had to pay £400 to a structural engineer who deemed the balcony unsafe and we would need to lift it all, re-inforce the joists (possibly replace if rotten) fit new handrails(they were not safe) and replace the patio doors. At this point we were advised to instruct a solicitor to contact the company who produced the report as a builder and the structural engineer felt they had not done their job. After also contacting the local council it became apparent there was no legal authority consent for the balcony or the patio doors. After a 6 month legal battle the surveyors have managed to wangle their way out of it with the caveats they place in these reports. The claim they covered the balcony by mentioning “flat roofs have higher maintenance costs” & by pointing out that the valuation was correct providing the paperwork for the flat roof extension was in place as they took that to cover the balcony. We are now in debt and face around a £25k bill if the roof joists are rotten to fix the mess on top of legal fee.
These home reports really are not worth the money they are written on and especially lead a 1st time buyer into a false sense of security. More needs to be done to make sure it is fully explained to any 1st time buyer that there are major flaws in some of these reports and it is at your own risk to accept what is written in them.
The report even stated there was a bath in the property when there was only a shower, so that just shows you how much detail went into it. I have learned a lot over the last 6 months and yes perhaps we have been at fault too for not reading the report 50 times as I have now but without proper guidance to 1st time buyers these kinds of situations will continue to happen. My partner and I may not be able to claim any legal compensation but we are going to our local MSP to try and make a difference to the Home Report System. This not only puts stress on couples financially, it puts stress on your relationship, your work and family and friends who are around you.
If anyone is reading I can’t stress enough if you are buying a home just pay an extra £500 if you love the house for an independent survey as it could save you thousands in the long run. We have not been able to enjoy our house or move on because we trusted the home report.

ralph says:
26 January 2016

We too were stung in England with similar situation it has caused me to have a nervous breakdown because of the debt and worry and I now suffer from anxiety. It has put so much pressure on my relationship and daughters life. I fully understand the pain you must be going through and I too will be writing to my mp to lobby a law change. This stuff ruins peoples .lives!

We are due to move into our dream home in Dundee next week but the last two months have been a total nightmare, due to the surveyor who produced the initial home report. We put in an offer based on the value in the original home report, offer was accepted and we were delighted. Then the surveyor sent a transcript of that report to our mortgage company and CHANGED the value to £20,000 less than his original value, and introducing a £20,000 retention due to an old boundary wall that is bowing………..he said he would be willing to change the value back to the original if we got a structural engineer in to look at the wall. £350 later, we had the engineer in who said it just needed re-pointing. The surveyor then changed back to the original value but our mortgage company , by this time were jittery and told us on Monday that they weren’t prepared to lend us the full amount (as they had already agreed in principal!). In addition, there are 2 parking spaces that belong to the house, or it was stated in the original home report that they were, we have just found out today, a week before, that in fact they belong to the local council. Now we have one week till moving in and no time to get the the house re-surveyed so we can make another offer (as it is worth less without private parking)………..their solicitor appears to have withheld this information until the last minute so we are now backed into a corner. I feel we have been royally shafted by the surveyor, he has caused so many problems and unnecessary stress. I want to find out it if is legal for a surveyor to change the value in a home report after it has been produced. I called RICS and they said they couldn’t help me, I can’t seem to find anyone who will tell me where we stand legally. We are relocating from Aberdeen to Dundee so have had to set up new nursery for my little one amongst other things…………..I am just livid at how these people have so much power and seem to protect each other. It is useful reading other people’s stories and to see that mostly things turned out ok once in their new homes, it’s hard to keep positive and not worry about what problems might be lurking in the new house, this whole process seems to have been doomed and has clouded what should be such an exciting time for a young family. Rant over, I feel a wee bit better………

andy M says:
16 November 2015

I have been helping out a friends daughter and partner who have bought privately, an ex council house in Aberdeen. In over 40 years in the electrical industry I have never witnessed anything as bad as the electrics in their new home. Nowhere in the home reports does it ask about DIY that had been done – despite a total of 39 switch sockets being visible through the house. This should have set off alarm bells with any competent experienced property Surveyor and saved them a probably £3-4K for a full rewire of the house.

Sarah Parry says:
7 January 2016

We bought a house 3 years ago. We relied only on the home report. Nearly all of the problems that were identified after we moved in were missed by the surveyor (serious water penetration on all 3 chimneys, requiring one to be taken down and re-built; plus lots of serious ‘hidden’ water penetration (i.e. internal ceilings falling down after living there for a few months) and damage to internal walls that were temporarily covered with foil paper to achieve a sale.). This has cost us £20k to date. And we expect that replacing damaged internal walls to amount to another £10k this year.
In sum, we found the home report to be fully bogus. In fact, when the same surveyor had to come back to our house 2 years later because we were moving our mortgage (to re-value) he apologised and explained that he can’t see these things when there is furniture in a house. Hopeless.

My son and partner bought a property in Scotland recently. The decision to buy was based partly on a top graded, (1) Home Report. ( No major work required). Within weeks, water was found leaking into the attic and advice sought from independent roofing specialists who all graded the property as a ‘3’. ( Major work required immediately). An entire new roof was required.
The seller had stated on the Home Report that no major work had been done, turns out he had recently bodged the job himself.( Neighbour willing to act as witness). The original report, a ‘1’ time expired and was renewed six months later. It was identical and re- dated.
The surveyor had inspected the roof with binoculars. Photos of the roof taken by my son when the problem surfaced clearly show shoddy work yet this was from the same location the surveyor used his binoculars and yet failed to spot the problems.
To add insult to injury, the surveyors now admit the workmanship is lacking but suggest this job could have been carried out AFTER their original survey. They accept no responsibility.
This is in the hands of a solicitor but the HR appears to be not worth the paper it is written on.

ralph says:
26 January 2016

As someone who has burned by a dishonest seller not disclosing issues in their PIF major issues including damp mould wet rot and leaking roof ( three in fact) I think the reintroduction of these should be compulsory in UK. Estate agents do not care about buyers and wull do the whole smoke and mirrors routine no better than bankers or traffic wardens

We live in Aberdeenshire, due to the oil crisis house values are dropping. Just received our home report as wanting to relocate.
Quite disappointed to get a low valuation, approx. 30 thousand less than we were hoping to market house for. Also only given a 2 on fuse box which was changed 5 years ago when kitchen was remodelled, seemingly new legislation states that we need a metal not plastic one??
I want to put on market for our original value, but partner thinks nobody will pay over home report.
Held to ransom , I think.

A new domestic installation will require a metal [double insulated] consumer unit but there is no requirement to change an existing one. If any major alterations to the electricity circuits were required the new owners would be well advised to have it done. I suspect that item in the report was an ‘observation’ rather than a ‘requirement’. Metal fuseboxes preceded plastic ones but metal is now the new standard following concerns from the fire and rescue services that plastic fuseboxes are prone to melting. I understand that consumer units in garages are exempt from the new regulations for the time being.

Where did you get your hoped-for valuation from? Presumably estate agents who know your area will give a realistic valuation (plus a little to allow negotiation). Buyers will also look at the area, the desirability and condition of your house, and bid accordingly.

Kate says:
16 August 2016

Bit of a long and ranty one.
I’m a first time buyer and looked at a house for the first time recently. I’ve a progressive illness so am not in a position to borrow more. Like everyone I need enough information to know I can afford to repair my house and that I can resell in future. If I had to move for more accessible housing and can’t resell, then I can’t live in my home, or buy another, or move into social housing. I was glad about HRs because if I had to pay for lots of surveys then I can’t afford to buy an accessible house. After viewing one house I don’t see HRs in this way.

The Home report flagged up minor roof repairs and damp in the walls beneath grading both a 2. That didn’t scare me off from having a look but knew it needs checked at 2nd view by my builder friend.
Surveyor writes twice in the report that the roof is otherwise fine, but then tucked away in the inspection procedures and “general remarks” is that he didn’t enter the attic and inspect the roof timbers. This despite knowing there is significant long term damp from the leaking roof. It seems bizarre that a house with a visible roof problem and internal damp beneath can be surveyed or even valued without inspection of roof timbers. How is he allowed to state that the roof is basically sound and call that a survey. There’s no redress if you miss the separate caveat. Agent told me this is normal practice to not inspect roof timbers but I’ve seen lots of HRs flag up rotten roof timbers. Agent said if I couldn’t take his personal assurances for there being no problem, I can call the surveyor. Why when we know he didn’t inspect them?

In the Japanese Knotweed section the surveyor says he didn’t look for it and assumes no problem. It takes 5 seconds to walk up to the hedge and see it growing in the next door vacant plot. It was regrowing after being removed earlier in summer, so if I’d viewed then I’d have missed it. Because he stated he chose not to inspect for it, a buyer who either didn’t think to look, wasn’t sure what it looks like, or didn’t view at the right time to see it would have no redress and insurance companies would not pay for any damage. There could have been constant eradication fees and it would keep coming back in from next door. Even when “eradicated” it comes back for years. It’s a C listed building with, I’d guess, poorish foundations and if you don’t protect it from Knotweed the council will do it and make you pay. I’d be unable to sell because buyers wouldn’t get a mortgage for a property with knotweed or history of it. If I was lucky and find a buyer with no mortgage, the price would be so low I couldn’t buy another house. I don’t know if the surveyor saw it, or genuinely chose to not look so as to not take on any liability. Either is not OK. So it sounds like if there’s knotweed in your area, you need a surveyor that you are paying.

HR said small improvements needed to leccy and graded it 2. It has bare wires and needs rewiring.

HR said no problem with flooring but hadn’t lifted the floor coverings. The bare cement floor had a hole 2 foot wide and 6 inches deep that’s been patched and repatched.

Also no certificates for anything and no tests done on chimneys, drains etc.

Surveyor valued the property without seeing documentation on planning permission for recent extension to a listed building, and there is no record of it on the council site. That’s a meaningless valuation. To tear down and rebuild in the original appearance could cost most of the asking price and also reduce size and value of the property. Your own solicitor would check this but only after an offer has been conditionally accepted, and so you have to pay your solicitor hundreds to find out if the property has a negative value. A HR and valuation should not be allowed without this basic info.

I stayed more or less polite but the agent thought I buttoned up the back and faked offence at me suggesting his verbal assurances on the roof timbers and the high quality of the survey were not enough to base an offer on.

If we add in knotweed nightmares, putting right the visible and likely problems flagged up in the survey, plus putting right the definite and potential problems the survey didn’t mention or was misleading or inadequate on, could cost a lot more than the asking price of the property and even if all this work was done resale could be difficult or impossible and then only at far lower than the current valuation. I know it would be my solicitors job to tell me I needed to get an independent survey done on this house but even if they didn’t, given how these professions are regulated, I would still have no chance of redress on some of these issues, and only a chance of a redress on some issues if I had the money to sue. Most people don’t. I’d be relieved if someone could tell me I’ve got all that wrong. I’m new to this so it’s likely I’ll have misunderstood some of the procedures.

If this level of competency and honesty is normal, there needs to be changes to HRs and then the Scottish government needs to create an independent auditing system that has the right to give out temporary bans, re education, or disbar surveyors from doing HRs. (professions can’t self regulate and the ombudsman is unfit for purpose.) This wouldn’t solve all bias problems and would increase cost, but it would be a start.

On this one experience I’d say HRs, as they’re done now, can’t be treated as an adequate initial valuation let alone a survey. I’ve found the comments above really useful. Thanks to all. When I find the one I really want, I’ll get my own survey done.

Stephen henderson says:
25 August 2016

I think the system is right it should be a mandatory thing for sellers to get a proper survey done before selling but the home report is not a proper survey.
I have just bought a house, home report states that it couldn’t check under the floors as fitted carpets did not allow access. The hatch in my new house is not covered by anything. I noticed this also in the house I sold same wording but again not true hatch was easily accessible.

I now could have a very large bill for wet rot damage, I realise that I should have paid for a timber survey but nothing in the home report to suggest I needed to, house seemed in good condition. My fault, but my specialist now is saying even if the home report surveyor had looked or smelled under the hatch he would have noticed it. Not sure if I have any come back, the questionnaire also asked if any work had been done and it was not disclosed even though work is evident. Again not sure how much of a come back I have with it.

The report doesn’t in its present form protect home buyers.

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If I had reached the stage of buying something that I did not totally understand the construction and condition of – let’s say a £250 000 house – then I would think it very prudent to commission someone properly qualified (and insured) to do a full survey for me even if it cost £1-2000 – less than 1% of my investment. I would be protecting myself. I certainly would not rely on a report produced by the seller. Why be stingy with such an important purchase? Chances are if defects become apparent that you can deal with you are likely to get a reduction in price to offset your survey. If defect free, you can sleep at night.

I have just bought a house on the back of a home report and found out 4 weeks later I have major issues with damp. It has left me so depressed and I’m now looking to sell at auction just to get rid of it. I’ve gone back to my solicitor but I am sure there will be a ‘get out clause’. Home reports are a waste of money.

Yes, they certainly cannot substitute for a professional survey carried out by the prospective purchaser. If a survey reveals dampness this can probably be used to negotiate on the price to allow for the cost of remedial work and even the cost of the survey.

I meant to say “on behalf of the prospective purchaser” in the first sentence. That is, a survey carried out at the purchaser’s expense, for which there is easier redress if a significant defect or condition is missed or is omitted from the report.

Absolutely waste of money the surveyors carrying out these reports are making a fortune . In England you can make a profit if you have updated a property by putting in new kitchen and bathroom but not here it is only valued more if you have extended it. This stops sellers getting their money back on updated property’s very annoying .

I had a home buyers survey undertaken and the report indicated several items marked 2, which is that there is no immediate problem but action should be taken to prevent deterioration. I challenged these saying that his judgement was either his own personal preference (re decoration) or merely outlined a sensible maintenance routine. He amended five items from 2 to 1 making me think that he couldn’t defend his professional judgement. My conclusion is that they are a waste of time and money

K Thomas says:
12 October 2016

As a recent seller in Scotland, and now as a buyer, my experience has led me to the opinion that the Home Report system should be scrapped forthwith. The ridiculous 3- monthly ‘refreshment’ requirement penalises sellers who, through no fault of their own, find that the property values in their area have collapsed and face a lengthy period (often years) of waiting until they find a buyer for their property. Very often, sellers have to accept a price well below the initial valuation, and matters are not helped by having to pay in excess of £100 every 3 months to have the home report ‘refreshed.’ As a buyer, one often finds that the major lenders do not accept Home Reports, even though the surveyor who carried it out is on the panel of the lender. This has been my experience with Abbey Santander, and has held up the already complex and labyrinthine process of securing a mortgage – on a property which already has a current, up-to-date Home Report.

yes agreed KT

A corrupt system that has fed the line of PWPs for many years a 2 year old could come up with a better system. (if they were impartial) homwereprots are useless. most banks santander will send out their own evaluation……surveyors do nothing in and out with a glance….good read on the judge sunday mail 12/11/2016 sums it up.

I purchased a house in Lanarkshire and the home report showed the all number ones which couldn’t be any better. However after a year I got the attic floored. I could see sky through a small gap in the roof, plus there were 8 wasp nests. The pest control firm said that they dated back to at least 10 years and that there was also signs of woodworm. The attic obviously was not checked for the home report as these issues would have shown up. I am now having to pay to get work done when I shouldn’t have to. So I also agree that home reports are not worth the paper they are written on. I wish I could take someone to account for this.

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It will depend whether for the purposes of a Scottish ‘Home Report’ the inspector is expected or required to inspect inside lofts and attics for signs of water ingress, vermin or infestation, or underneath floorboards to check joists, plumbing and electrics, to lift carpets to see if there is evidence woodworm or rot, to carry out a drain test, to check chimneys for birds’ nests and do a smoke test, and so on. There could be all sorts of exclusions as was to be the case with the English ‘House Condition Reports’ which were subsequently abandoned. The only inspection that will reveal the true condition of a property is a full structural survey and even then it is necessary to agree with the surveyor what is and is not included because full access is sometimes denied or impossible. Any exclusions would normally be set out in the preamble to the report but in the case of a mandatory report it might be buried in the legislation; nevertheless, a good surveyor or inspector would note the limitations of the inspection. The Home Report is not a survey but a report prepared following an inspection. The inspector does not have to be a qualified surveyor but must be a competent person trained and experienced for the type of inspection specified.

I agree that any recourse should be exercised against the person or firm who produced the report and they will no doubt explain their position. There is a duty of care to the buyer and also a requirement to exercise due diligence and competence within the scope of the brief.

denis mcivor says:
8 February 2019

I put my cottage up for sale about 4 months ago surveyor came out. he was there around 1 hour.head and shoulders into attic didn’t check beneath floors ,I had a heat recovery system fitted had to explain to him what this was. when I bought this house 5 years ago the house had rotten floors ,broken sewerage pipes faulty boiler rotten ceiling structure etc e.t.c none of this was on the home report then ,home reports are superficial and not worth the money /denis

Helen says:
2 September 2019

In its present form the Home Report is of little use to anyone- except surveyors.

Sellers are pressured into paying over and over again to update the report.
Buyers are not getting a detailed survey that flags all issues, they are getting a very lazy look dont touch kind of survey.
Even the banks seem not to be impressed often insisting on more surveys or updated reports before they are even due.