What does a surveyor do when they visit your property to conduct a survey?
Simon from Winchester
19 March 2014
Surveys questions and answers
I’ve organised for a survey to be conducted on the property I am intending to buy and I was just wondering what do surveyors actually do when they survey a property? Are there certain areas of the building that they can’t look at? I have a couple of concerns about particular aspects of the property, will the surveyor be able to take this into account when doing the survey?
The survey of a property is controlled by two major factors, the nature of the instruction and type of report commissioned and, secondly, the nature of the house to be inspected.
The survey content varies and the conditions of engagement should describe the extent and limitations of the inspection beforehand.
The property can be occupied or unoccupied, carpeted and furnished or empty floor coverings can be found left in a house that is unoccupied.
The extent of the survey can also be controlled by the circumstances of the inspection. The weather conditions on inspection for example can be significant. Rain or no rain falling for example can restrict comments about rainwater goods and if they function. The availability of the vendor to ask relevant questions is another factor.
Surveyors do not have x ray vision to see behind walls and under floors and cannot enter small or restricted roof and sub floor areas. The footings of a house are not exposed for example and services are usually tested by specialists only in the case of Building Surveys and by arrangement.
All factors apart, the surveyor should have experience of the style of building and the location in so far as it affects the fabric of the building and the valuation. The observations made on site with a trained eye can still identify areas of potential concern even if the inspection is restricted. For example water under the floors may have been experienced in the house where better access has been forthcoming in the area.
The surveyor can often predict issues based on the condition of the property externally such as missing tiles where the roof void cannot be accessed.
Internal inspection despite limitations should be able to identify major issues such as rising damp, water ingress and the like.
A surveyor on site has to consider all the visible issues outside and inside the house and advise the client of issues and potential issues. They can see in most cases the external and internal fabric and finishes and despite restrictions such as carpets and furniture to some parts most will be capable of inspection.
If a client has concerns they should notify the surveyor of these to allow a response before inspection. The client should also consider the experience of the surveyor to the area as there is no substitute for past experiences and local knowledge of issues.
In conclusion every property is different any areas not accessed should be documented and reasons stated. The surveyor should always try to advise and not set out to write a meaningless report with no commitment when a more detailed report is requested.
This description is given on the basis of more in depth reports not a valuation only.
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Hannah, 09 April 2017