Rip Off Britain, show on BBC One, has highlighted the importance of changes recommended as part of a RICS consultation into new home survey standards that launched last month.
On 26 April, RICS proposed changes to better protect buyers and sellers by introducing improved communication and more standardised offerings.
Speaking on the programme Paula Higgins, founder and chief executive at the HomeOwners Alliance, said: “There’s a massive variation in surveys. If you were to have one property and two surveyors there, the style of the reports could be very different.
“One might have very detailed photos, a list of things that need to be fixed and estimated costs. Another one might just have lots of caveats and ask for further investigation.”
Rip Off Britain showed two case studies about surveyors who had failed to raise attention to faults at properties, leading to thousands of pounds worth of losses by the homebuyers.
One of the changes that RICS is proposing will be to emphasise the levels of the survey in a numerical system to make it easier to understand, with minimum levels of service for each one in the hopes of making it easier for consumers to identify what type of survey they need.
Another recommendation is to use a surveyor with local knowledge of the area, depending on instruction, who would have specialised local knowledge such as areas prone to flooding or subsidence.
Speaking to the BBC on behalf of RICS surveyors, Joe Arnold (pictured), managing director at Arnold & Baldwin Chartered Surveyors, said: “There’s definitely confusion around the different levels that are out there in the marketplace.
“Some people are buying a condition report, which is a basic report, and expecting building survey quality. So perhaps they haven’t really had the right guidance to begin with or the right communications with the surveyor to set those expectations from day one.
“It’s making sure that consumers understand what’s on offer, they understand the different products that are available to them and also have the confidence that their surveyor will have to meet minimum standards when producing the report.”
“These new standards could potentially benefit every property transaction, so everyone involved in the process should have an interest.”
The RICS consultation is live until 26 July. Rip Off Britain is available on BBC iPlayer.