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    Choosing a Building Surveyor: Your Essential Guide

    By The reallymoving Team Updated 24th May, 2024

    Reviewed by Em Smith

    One of the most important things you can do for your future property is get a home survey. But how do you choose a great surveyor?

    Choosing a Building Surveyor: Your Essential Guide

    Buying a property can sometimes feel overwhelming. Wondering if this is the right property for you, if it's a good investment, and if there's anything you're missing can be exhausting.

    The importance of getting a survey can’t be understated. It can give you a clear idea of the state of the property's condition so you can make an informed decision. A survey can also highlight any issues and can save you money further down the line if you need repairs.

    It can also provide a bargaining chip. You will have an expert approximation of what work will need to be done, and how much it will cost. 

    Have a look at our negotiating guide to work out how to use a survey's results to suggest a new price to your seller.

    How can you choose the right surveyor?

    Firstly, it’s important to be able to compare a variety of experienced, highly qualified professionals.

    You'll want to know what their prices are and what they’ll offer upfront. Here are the things you should be taking into account when comparing surveyors: 

    Location

    You may have had recommendations for surveyors, but if they’re not in your area, they’re not much use.

    For example, if you currently live in London but are moving to York. It’s important to be able to pick a professional in the right area.

    This is especially true as they might have local knowledge or an understanding of building work in that location.

    Reviews

    The best way to assess a Building Surveyor is to read what their previous customers think about them.

    We use reviews to choose restaurants, holiday locations and almost everything else. It makes sense to look at feedback when choosing a service like this too.

    Positive reviews and references can help you decide which surveyor will be right for you.

    Price

    When looking for a building surveyor, it's easy to simply choose the cheapest option. Sometimes it’s about seeing what the comparable options are and if you get anything more for your money. Remember, whilst a survey is a cost, it's something that can save you a huge amount of money in the long run.

    Wondering just how much does a survey cost? Have a look at our breakdown of typical survey costs.

    RICS regulated

    Always choose a RICS regulated surveyor (we only use RICS regulated firms on reallymoving). RICS is the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). This means the professionals you choose will have to adhere to a strict code of conduct. If you do have any issues with the service you received, you can go to RICS for more information.

    Many RICS registered surveyors will also be Chartered Surveyors.

    Offering the right survey

    There are different types of surveys, depending on the age and condition of the property. Older properties, even ones in good condition, need different surveys to new builds.

    What survey do I need?

    For new builds, a Condition Report (Level 1 survey) will be suitable, but older and more complex properties will need a HomeBuyer’s Report (Level 2 survey) or a Building Survey (Level 3 survey). These options may or may not include valuations. 

    Remember – a mortgage valuation is NOT the same thing as a survey. That will only tell you how much your lender believes your property is worth. You will still need a survey to assess the property.

    Have a look at our article 'Which Survey Do I Need?' for more information to know whether you need a HomeBuyer's survey or Building Survey.

    Efficiency

    Perhaps you’re on a tight deadline? Pick a property surveyor who specialises in a quick turnaround. This will also depend on availability.

    If you’re not in a rush, you don’t have to pick this service, but efficiency is always helpful.

    Most surveyors will be able to tell you what their availability is. They'll also be able to share how long it takes them to write up the survey report before you book them.

    Clarity

    You receive the detailed report after the surveyor has carried out their visit. Sometimes they include photographs, but even without them, the report will highlight any areas for concern in the property. 

    Reports are written in clear, straightforward language, with minimal jargon. After all, your report could be a bargaining chip with the seller, you want to be able to understand what it means.

    Communication

    Pick a surveyor who is happy to be in contact with you. This is whether that is answering your questions before you book, explaining which survey you need, or calling you to go through the report after you’ve received it, making sure you understand.

    Choosing a surveyor who has good communication can help reduce stress and uncertainty during the house buying process.

    Choosing a building surveyor FAQs

    How do I find a reliable surveyor?

    The best way to find a reliable surveyor is to compare local surveyors and check their references and reviews.

    It’s important to do your research and make sure that they’re RICS regulated and offer the survey you need for the property you are looking to purchase.

    What should I ask a Building Surveyor? 

    Keeping good communication with your Building Surveyor should mean that any questions and queries you have will be answered.
    There are some questions you should ask a surveyor before deciding to use their services:
    • If they offer the survey needed for your type of property
    • If they are RICS accredited
    • How much they charge
    • How long the process is estimated to take

    After you have received your survey, your Building Surveyor should be happy to answer any questions you have about the results.

    What is the average cost of a survey?

    The cost of survey will depend on factors such as the level of the report, the age and size of the property, and how much the property is worth.
    Survey           Standard Cost*     
    Condition Report (Level 1 Survey) £300 - £700
    HomeBuyer Report (Level 2 Survey) £400 - £550
    Building Survey (Level 3 Survey) £500 - £750

    Is a house survey worth it? 

    It is always worth getting a house survey done. It can save you money in the long run if any costly issues are found during the survey.

    Having a survey means you are making an informed decision about the property you are purchasing.

    Does a surveyor tell you how much the property is worth?

    You can ask for a valuation to be done by your surveyor to give you an in depth and accurate assessment of the value of the property.

    Valuations carried out by surveyors can be more reliable than a valuation you receive from a mortgage lender as they are carried out by experts who consider all characteristics of the property.

     
    * ​Based on reallymoving data collected 2024

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