Oakfield Building Chartered Surveyors

How to choose a surveyor to carry out a building survey?

Picture this: you’ve finally found the perfect property, and all your dreams seem to be coming true. But there’s one crucial step left before you can truly call it “home” – finding a reliable building surveyor to safeguard your investment. That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive step-by-step guide, helping you navigate those murky waters and confidently sail towards the finish line with a competent building surveyor by your side.

When choosing a surveyor to carry out a building survey, you should consider their qualifications, experience, availability, communication skills, and fees. It’s also important to ask for references and read reviews before making a decision. Additionally, ensure that the surveyor is RICS regulated and offers the right type of survey depending on the age and condition of the property. Finally, choose a surveyor who provides clear reports in plain language with relevant technical jargon where required.

How to choose a surveyor to carry out a building survey

Understanding Building Surveys

When it comes to purchasing a property, the importance of getting a building survey done before making an offer cannot be overstated. A building survey is a thorough inspection of the condition of a property, carried out by qualified surveyors. It can help uncover any defects or issues that might not be immediately apparent and provide valuable information for potential buyers on the state of the property.

At its core, a building survey is essentially an investigation into the overall condition of a property. The goal is to provide a comprehensive understanding of both visible and hidden defects that could have an impact on the value of the property. These reports aim to provide objective data about the cost of repairs that are necessary to bring the property up to its optimum level.

One way to think of a building survey is as a kind of medical check-up for your property. Just like going for regular check-ups helps you stay healthy, getting a building survey allows you to identify underlying issues before they become major problems which in turn helps protect your investment.

For instance, imagine you’re looking at an old Victorian house and there’s evidence of damp in one corner of the living room. Without a building survey, the untrained eye may brush it off as “just damp” and simply re-paint over it. However, if you get a professional building surveyor who has years of experience, they will be able to tell you what kind of damp it is and what caused it. This would most likely save you thousands, since structural issues almost always lead to expensive repairs!

Types of Building Surveys

There are different types of building surveys available, which vary depending on the scope and requirements involved. Choosing the right type of survey will depend on factors such as the age and condition of the property, your budget, and your specific needs.

Here are some of the most common types:

1. Home Condition Survey (Level One)

This type of survey is relatively basic and is usually recommended for newer properties that are in good condition. The surveyor will provide a ‘traffic light’ rating system that indicates which areas require attention or repair.

2. Homebuyers Report (Level Two)

This type of survey is suitable for properties that are fairly modern or in good condition. It looks at the main elements of the property, such as its construction, plumbing, and electrics, and will highlight any major problems that need to be addressed urgently.

3. Building Survey (Level Three)

This type of survey is the most comprehensive and detailed option available. It’s typically recommended for older properties or those that may have undergone significant alterations over time. The report goes into great depth on all areas of the property, including design defects and potential repair costs.

In addition to these types of surveys, there are also more specialised surveys like snagging reports which focuses on new build properties and highlights defects to rectify under warranty avoiding missing windows replacements or perhaps a roof leak.

The different types of surveys have different levels of detail depending on their level of complexity. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that no matter which type you choose, all surveys should provide useful information for making informed decisions about a property purchase.

Ultimately, whether you’re purchasing an old heritage home or a newly-built apartment, commissioning a building survey can save you money in the long-term by helping avoid costly surprises down the line.

Building Surveyors

We are one of the leading Chartered Surveyors covering London, Buckinghamshire, Marlow and Oxfordshire and regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Our team is dedicated to providing the highest quality building surveys.
Contact us to discuss your requirements further.

When to Get a Building Survey

Buying a property can be one of the biggest investments you make in your life, which is why you want to ensure it’s a sound investment. A building surveyor will be your eyes and ears on the physical condition of the property you are considering buying or selling. But when is the right time to get one?

First, let’s consider some examples. You may not need a full building survey if you’re buying a brand-new home that comes with a 10-year new build warranty. However, if you’re purchasing an older home, especially pre-1900s, and/or in areas prone to flooding or subsidence, then it’s strongly recommended that you get a full house survey.

It should be noted here that most lenders require a basic mortgage valuation as part of loan collateral requirements. This inspection is designed primarily for their benefit and security over their investment rather than yours. It is always worth obtaining this basic assessment at least and then considering additional surveys such as the HomeBuyer Report or Building Surveys depending on the age and condition of the property.

Ultimately, getting a RICS home survey conducted before making any final decisions is the best way to ensure your investment is properly assessed before completion.

  • According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), over 110,000 professionals worldwide hold RICS qualifications, ensuring consistent professional standards when conducting building surveys.
  • A study published in the International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis found that 84% of participants valued communication skills as a critical factor when choosing a surveyor for property transactions.
  • In a 2021 report by the National Homebuyers Alliance, it was found that understanding local market conditions is considered essential for more than 70% of homebuyers when selecting a property surveyor.
Roofing Survey
Checking a wall homebuyers survey

Identifying Qualified Surveyors

It’s critical to identify a qualified and experienced surveyor who can help you through the process of purchasing or selling your property. Here are some of the key factors to consider:

First, check if the surveyor is chartered and registered with the RICS. Always ask for credentials – memberships, certifications and qualifications. You can easily confirm their legitimacy with agencies such as The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Secondly, consider how much experience they have in the industry and their specific area of expertise, e.g. building surveys versus condition reports, homebuyer reports, etc. Check for their sample work and client references that they can provide.

Thirdly, try to source a recommended surveyor either from your agent or personal networks. Such referrals usually come from satisfied customers or peers who know the quality of work or reputation of the surveying firm.

Finally, communication skills are invaluable in this field. It’s important to choose someone with patience and an eagerness to explain anything you may not understand about property inspections when preparing or reviewing reports.

One of our clients shared with us their frustrating experience working with another firm where poor communication prevented them from understanding findings that were important for both buying negotiations and post-purchase repairs. Such experiences only reinforce that while inspecting properties requires technical knowledge and in-depth training, proper communication skills are essential when helping buyers and sellers make informed decisions about perhaps one of their most significant financial investments.

By focusing on what really matters: relevant experience, professional qualifications & certifications, accurate pricing structure, excellent communication skills – you can find a surveyor whom you’ll both trust and feel confident in assisting you with your prospective property purchase or sale.

Legal and Professional Requirements

When choosing a building surveyor, it’s crucial to ensure that they meet all legal and professional requirements. This guarantees that they offer quality services, adhere to ethical standards, and have the necessary qualifications to perform building surveys.

Firstly, Chartered surveyors must be regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). RICS is an independent professional organisation that sets standards for property professionals worldwide. They ensure that their members provide reliable, objective, and transparent services through their strict code of conduct. By choosing a surveyor who is a member of RICS, you can be confident that you are working with a qualified expert.

In addition to RICS regulation, surveyors must meet professional standards set by other regulatory bodies. For example, in the United Kingdom, surveyors must adhere to the Minimum Technical Competency (MTC) standards set by the government. These standards aim to ensure that all building surveys meet specific technical requirements and follow industry best practises.

It’s also essential for building surveyors to have professional indemnity insurance. This type of insurance protects clients if the surveyor makes a mistake or oversight during their work. The level of required coverage varies depending on factors such as the size of the company and the nature of the project.

Furthermore, building surveyors must have extensive knowledge in construction law and regulations, relevant codes of practise and guidelines in both commercial and home buildings. Their research should include review of planning permissions, lease agreements, sale contracts or any legal literature regarding your prospective property including environmental concerns like contamination. A proficient surveyor will analyse title deeds together with Land Registry documentation to verify that there are no illegitimate structures within your land borders.

It’s worth mentioning that not all building surveyors possess formal qualifications but may have gained experience throughout their careers in related fields such as architecture or engineering which make them knowledgeable enough to perform the survey accurately. However, homeowners may prefer to work with qualified surveyors, or chartered surveyors who have undergone rigorous training and passed several examinations by professional regulatory bodies such as RICS.

  • When choosing a building surveyor, it’s important to look for someone who meets all legal and professional requirements. This includes being licenced by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and adhering to Minimum Technical Competency (MTC) standards set by the government. They should also have professional indemnity insurance and extensive knowledge in construction law and regulations, relevant codes of practise, and guidelines. Homeowners may prefer to work with qualified surveyors or chartered surveyors. By ensuring that your surveyor meets these requirements, you can be confident that you will receive high-quality services and accurate surveys.

Factors to Consider in Choosing a Surveyor

Choosing the right building surveyor is key if you are looking for a comprehensive report outlining all you need to know about a property before making a transaction. It’s important to consider factors like experience, cost, location, availability and communication skills of a building surveyor.

Experience is perhaps one of the most important factors to consider when selecting a building surveyor. An experienced surveyor can pick up on even the slightest signs of structural damage that an amateur might miss. Experienced surveyors also know how to identify problems and provide practical solutions.

Location is another crucial factor in selecting a building surveyor. Choosing a local professional can be helpful as they are likely familiar with the area’s unique conditions and regulations.

Availability is another essential factor; it’s vital to find out how long it takes your potential surveyor to carry out their inspection and provide results since many home buyers work within tight deadlines.

A clear line of communication with your selected building surveyor should be established as they are expected to guide you through any questions concerning building surveys irrespective of the experience level of clients. When it comes down to selecting from many candidates clients research work history, customer satisfaction rates and feedback from previous jobs. You should ensure there is clarity in what exactly each survey includes like photographs or estimated costs for repairs if required upon completion of assessment

Moreover, you should select a building surveyor that specialises in the type of property intended for purchase. For example, purchasing a new home may demand a Homebuyers report known as Level two surveys which are relatively cheap compared to the full building survey known as Level three surveys that go over more details on possible hidden problems beneath surfaces. A surveyor who specialises in commercial properties may not understand what to look out for in residential buildings.

Damp Found from Homebuyers Survey
Homebuyers Survey
Damp Window Building Survey
Homebuyers Survey Level 2

Experience, Location, and Cost

When looking for a building surveyor, experience is undoubtedly one crucial factor to consider. A qualified and experienced building surveyor with years of experience can offer you valuable insight about the property you are purchasing that inexperienced surveyors might overlook. They are well-equipped to handle any issues during the survey process and can provide you accurate insight into the property’s condition.

On the other hand, new or inexperienced surveyors may not have enough knowledge or skills to take on more complex projects or properties with unique challenges. So it is always a good idea to choose someone with relevant experience. When you’re inquiring about experience, make sure to ask about previous similar projects, if they have prior connections with local builders and architects – so you will know your surveyor has local knowledge regarding typical building work in the area.

Moreover, location also plays an important role when selecting a building surveyor. It’s best practise to choose a professional who’s based in the same area where the property is located. Someone familiar with your neighbourhood will have insights into potential problems like local flooding history, soil conditions, and zoning restrictions that could affect the property’s value while ensuring adherence to all planning policies as per customary practise.

Finally, cost is an essential component of any property purchase. While it may be tempting to select the cheapest quote available, it is essential to remember that building surveys are vital investments that could prevent future costly repairs from going unnoticed in initial stages. You should compare quotes from various building surveyors before choosing one that meets your needs both within budget constraints and covers all areas of concern highlighted in preliminary research.

Keep in mind that while cost is significant, quality should never be sacrificed for price. Ensure correct pricing by comparing quotes from different companies for similar types of surveys and identify why there may be differences in pricing between service providers. Always choose a RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) regulated surveyor as they will adhere to a strict code of conduct. And if the service provided falls below your expectations, RICS can help you out with expert advice through their complaints scheme.

Finalising the Survey Scope and Agreement

Once you have found an experienced and qualified surveyor who is available in your area and within budget, it’s time to finalise the survey scope and agreement terms.

Make sure you are aware of the different types of surveys and which one would be most beneficial to you regarding buying a property or selling one. Several types of land surveys exist, such as Level 2 HomeBuyer’s Report or Level 3 Building Survey. Consulting with your building surveyor can help identify which type suits better for your needs.

One thing to note is that it’s always best to ask questions upfront before agreeing to anything. Make sure you understand what services are included, any potential limitations or exclusions within their work that may arise during fieldwork stages of gathering information about your property’s infrastructure or hidden features, resulting in additional costs.

Moreover, survey agreements should also clearly indicate your surveyor’s fees and payment schedule. If you run into changes during the course of the project that result in increased expenditure—make sure this is dealt with immediately—and keep an eye on those schedules and carefully researched estimates from reputable suppliers.

Ultimately, choosing a building surveyor is all about finding someone who has experience handling projects similar to yours, local knowledge within working practices and meets your budget constraints while providing you with a comprehensive report that is easy to understand.
It’s like visiting a doctor. You wouldn’t want someone who specialises in kidney health to perform your dental check-up, and you wouldn’t choose someone who is unfamiliar with your medical history either—choose wisely. The same goes for selecting a building surveyor, ensure that the surveyor has the requisite experience, provides appropriate services at an affordable price and liaises closely with clients to achieve top-quality results.

Picture of James Peck

James Peck

James has worked the residential property sector since 2005 with roles in Asset Management, Probate, Insurance, Party Wall Matters, Valuation and Building Surveying in both local and national areas having spent several years working within the London area and the Home Counties. James specialises in building surveying with a particular interest in non-traditional construction properties and historic buildings. James has an in-depth knowledge of residential buildings and provides clear and concise advice to clients.
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