Advice for choosing a surveyor

There are lots of surveyors offering surveys and it can be confusing for house buyers who only buy a house on average, once every ten years. So where do you start when trying to choose the company to carry out your survey?

Firstly, our advice is to not use the bank or building society to carry out any form of survey other than the valuation. They often use AssocRICS surveyors who can have very little experience. The surveyors usually have to travel many miles to carry out a long list of surveys that they must complete that day; this is not conducive to carrying out a thorough, in-depth survey.

 

So, assuming that you have decided to find your own surveyor, to confuse matters, there are three different classes of individual membership to the RICS.

You may come across AssocRICS surveyors. As associates, they are not full members of the RICS (full members will have MRICS or FRICS after their name) and they are not qualified Chartered Surveyors. They have not achieved or demonstrated the required experience and qualifications to be full members of the RICS and they have not completed an APC (Assessment of Professional Competence). Confusingly for the general public, you will find these inexperienced AssocRICS surveyors carrying out all types of home surveys including the RICS licensed home surveys (RICS Homebuyer's Reports and also the RICS licensed Building Survey), structural surveys and structural inspections. 

Please be aware that a firm operated by an AssocRICS surveyor may still be regulated by the RICS but will not be a Chartered Surveying practice as they cannot call themselves a Chartered Surveyor.

To be a full member of the RICS and call yourself a Chartered Surveyor, you must have attained at least MRICS (Member) status or progress to FRICS (Fellow) status.

 

So how do you find a good independent surveyor?

 

We recommend that you choose an independent Chartered Building Surveyor ( check your surveyor on the following link - RICS is your surveyor qualified? ) and do not use comparison sites which often promote inexperienced surveyors trying to find work.

 

Make sure that the company is regulated by the RICS as there are "agencies" who sell the survey to a "local surveyor" for a fraction of the fee paid by yourself. In this instance your legal contract for the survey will be with the company, not the surveyor, so even if they do use a RICS surveyor (and many do not), if there is a problem, the RICS will not assist you, as they do not regulate the company.

 

Once you have narrowed down the options and found a company, we recommend that you:

 

  • Ask who the actual surveyor is who will carry out your survey (not the practice's principal).

  • Ask about the surveyor's experience and how long they have been surveying for.

  • Request a sample report and make sure that it offers you a comprehensive over-view of the property.

  • Discuss with the surveyor what their experience is in relation to the type of house you are purchasing.

  • Make sure that the fees include a call after the inspection and are they available for follow-up queries?

  • Look at their reviews; are they genuine or are they too good to be true (reviews are hard to get and fake reviews are easy to buy or fabricate)?

 

Finally, price. There are companies offering the RICS licensed surveys for very little money (especially when VAT and corporation tax liabilities are taken out). A good survey, especially a good independent survey will cost you more. There is usually a difference, and it is worth getting a sample to see the quality of the survey offered.

 

This cost difference comes at an expensive time when buying a property stretches your budget to the limit. With a survey, you are asking an individual to give their professional opinion on a property that is costing you hundreds of thousands of pounds. So, is it really worth taking the lowest quote without looking into what is being offered at that bargain price and by whom? It may suit your budget, but does it cover all the issues? If not, will you have some nasty surprises when you move into your dream home?

 

Caveat Emptor!