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Structural Engineer or Chartered Surveyor for a Structural Survey?

  1. Alison from London
  2. 23 February 2015
  3. Surveys questions and answers

Question

We have an offer on a 1930s house which was underpinned 30 years ago because of subsidence. There have been no further problems and the vendor has a full engineers report. I have been advised we should have a structural survey carried out by a structural engineer rather than a surveyor, but in advice we found, we can only find mention of surveyors doing structural surveys. Can you please explain the difference between having either one of these professionals doing a full survey? Many thanks.

Answer

There is often confusion between structural engineers and structural surveys - Chartered Surveyors thus no longer use the phrase structural survey, instead calling their most comprehensive inspection a Building Survey.

One should always have an ‘all of building’ survey to check for defects that may not be limited to movement - the full engineer’s report would have focused on the single issue of subsidence only. Where there is a history of significant issues a Building Survey is recommended, rather than a HomeBuyer Survey, so this survey should be undertaken prior to exchange of contracts.

The engineer’s report may still be of help, but can only be relied upon by the persons to whom it is addressed - ask for a copy and review to assess if it is of help to you. If it is, you will also likely find it is only addressed to the client who commissioned it thus only they can rely on it. You can then revert to that client and ask them to request a quote from the engineer for the benefit of the report to be extended to you, and you can then consider if the cost of this is worthwhile alongside the contents and advice of your Building Survey.

John Lewis

John Lewis

Anthony J Lewis & Co. Chartered Surveyors

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Comments (1)

  • Gerard Walsh FRICS

    posted on 5 Oct 2015

    Not all Chartered Surveyors are the same or have the same experience or qualifications. If you need a full Structural Survey a Chartered Building Surveyor ( The word Building in his title) should be able complete the inspection to the same detail as a Chartered Structural Engineer and in some cases more detailed and relevant to the property.

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