The short answer to this is, for the purpose of buying a second-hand home, yes! Both surveys check for the same conditional issues and both serve the purpose of giving you an expert opinion of the condition of a property you are considering purchasing - with particular emphasis on the structural condition - so that you can make an informed decision on continuing with the sale or not.
Why are there so many different names for surveys?
There are actually about 10 different names for pre-purchase residential surveys. Everything from Building Survey, to Structural Survey, Engineers Report, House Survey and lots of variations.
The history of the different names is, unfortunately, a little boring. But the quick summary is the different names come from the different organisations that surveyors and engineers register with. For example, the SCSI (Society for Chartered Surveyors Ireland) govern the title Building Surveyor and Chartered Surveys of different levels and they use the term "Building Survey". This is also used by RICS who also use a few other variations.
IEI (Irish Engineers Institute) use the phrase Structural Survey and Engineers Report. Then over the years, a few other variations of this have come into common use.
There are also other organisations like CIOB that offer various training courses for engineers and surveyors to conduct Residential Pre-Purchase Surveys or "Conditional Reports"
In addition, there are also a couple of organisations that govern architects and architectural technologists who are also qualified to conduct surveys.
How do I know what type of survey I need?
Thankfully, even though there are so many names for surveys, the standard for each survey is quite consistent. At GetHouseSurvey.ie we use the phrase "House Survey" as a catch-all, but our surveys are all conducted to a minimum of the SCSI Type 2 standard. That is regardless if they are being conducted by a Chartered Surveyor, Chartered Engineer or anyone else qualified to conduct surveys.
Whoever you are purchasing with, make sure to ask for a sample survey, check your surveyor has insurance covering them to carry out residential surveys and that they are experienced!