So you’ve found your dream property and put in an offer that’s been accepted. This is the time to look beyond the brickwork, under the carpet and in the darkest recesses of the loft. Yes, it’s time to call a surveyor who will identify any existing or potential problems using their knowledge and expertise.

What they do

A surveyor’s job is to provide an unbiased assessment of a property to make sure the buyer and the mortgage lender receive (as much as is reasonably possible) an accurate idea of its condition.

Not just there to help during a purchase, their skills are also in demand for a large number of other property-related issues. They fully understand building legislation, technical codes and construction standards and can provide professional advice on things like building defects, alterations, renovations and extensions. They will work with engineers, architects and builders, and even manage a build to ensure it is safe and energy efficient.

Their job involves many different skills and a typical day may find them:

  • Identifying structural faults and making recommendations for repairs
  • Assessing damage for insurance purposes
  • Advising clients on issues like property boundary disputes
  • Acting as an expert witness during legal proceedings
  • Making sure properties meet building regulations and fire safety and accessibility standards

You may well seek the services of a surveyor if you need:

  • To complete a building survey
  • Regulatory advice about building issues including technical, financial, legal, environmental, building regulations, planning permission and restoration matters
  • To draw up building plans, budgets and other documentation if you’re extending or renovating your home
  • To assess building plans to ensure they comply with building regulations
  • To help solve disputes if you are taking action against someone who’s worked on your house

What they charge

On average, a surveyor will charge around £20 per hour for their services. If you are appointing a surveyor to carry out a building survey, these are normally set at a fixed price depending on the level of detail you require.

Some example prices are as follows, but these will vary depending on the surveyor, what’s included and your geographical location:

RICS condition report – around £250

A condition report is the cheapest survey but doesn’t come with advice or a valuation.

RICS homebuyer report – around £400

A homebuyer report is a survey suitable for conventional properties in reasonable condition and should identify any structural problems and issues such as subsidence or damp.

Building or full structural survey – around £600

This is the most comprehensive survey and is suitable for all residential properties. It’s particularly good for older homes or homes that may need repairs and provides detailed advice.

New-build snagging survey – around £300

A new-build snagging survey is an independent inspection to look for any issues with the property.

What to ask

A few sensible questions to ask your surveyor before you hire them are:

  • Are you a RICS member?
  • How long have you been practising?
  • What exactly is included in the survey?
  • When will the job be completed?
  • Do you know the area and have you had experience with a similar type of property?
  • Do you have professional indemnity cover?
  • How do you keep up to date with building regulations and apply them?

Trades to trust

Check that your surveyor has current Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) membership. They are the industry’s regulatory body who train, monitor, assess and accredit their members, so you can be sure you’re hiring a competent professional.

The law

Surveyors need a thorough understanding of the latest building regulations and be able to spot where these are and are not being met. Regulations should be understood by members of RICS.
Ready to hire?

3 is the magic number

As always, try and get three quotes from three different surveyors to ensure you pay a fair price for the job.

Certification and references

Don’t be shy about asking your surveyor for any relevant certification, proof of public liability insurance and references.