You know you need a survey, and that they're carried out by a surveyor - but what does 'Chartered Surveyor' mean? What do they do, and how do you pick one?
What is a Chartered Surveyor?
A Chartered Surveyor is a building surveyor who assesses properties for defects, future issues or problems. They can also work out the value of a property. Surveyors produce a report so you can see if the property is a good investment, or if there are any issues that might create problems in the future. These could include things like damp, structural issues and Japanese knotweed.
To become a 'Chartered Surveyor', a surveyor will have taken extra qualifications and had a certain level of experience, which is approved by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Some surveyors may not have gone on to get these extra levels of education to become chartered, but will still be regulated by RICS, and be fully qualified. These can be known as Assoc RICS, associates, or simply building surveyors.
You don't have to necessarily use a Chartered Surveyor for your survey, but we always recommend using RICS accredited experts, and only feature RICS surveyors on our site.
What do Chartered Surveyors do?
As with all building surveyors, a Chartered Surveyor will visit the property, assessing different areas and identifying any problems. They will then put it all into a report for you, and you can decide if you want to go ahead with the purchase, or even renegotiate based on the findings in the report.
For example, if the report tells you that you will have to spend £5000 on repairs in the future, you could negotiate the price of the property down by that amount. Which is exactly why a survey is an excellent investment.
When do I need a Chartered Surveyor?
You get in touch with a Chartered Surveyor when you have made an initial offer on the property and had it accepted. If the survey reveals something that stops you buying the property, it will have saved you a huge amount of money. Most offers are made 'subject to survey', so the seller knows that if something unexpected is revealed, you may back out or expect a reduction in price.
Only book a surveyor when you have had an offer accepted. Otherwise, the seller would be inundated with surveyors visiting their home!
This information applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
If you are in Scotland, the seller is responsible for getting a survey. You could use a Chartered Surveyor to get a Home Report. All of your potential buyers could view this report before making an offer, and they are valid for around 3 months.
Are all reports the same?
As mentioned above, the system in Scotland is different, where you would purchase a Home Report as the seller, before putting your property on the market.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland there are three main types of survey for buyers:
- Condition Report (Level 1)
- HomeBuyer’s Reports (Level 2)
- Building Surveys (Level 3)
A Condition Report (Level 1) is incredibly simplistic - it uses a traffic light system to identify any issues to be concerned about. But it doesn't tell you how those issues might develop in the future, recommendations for repair or how much it would cost to fix, which the other surveys do.
A HomeBuyer Report (Level 2) is the middle choice - it's fairly detailed and is good for most properties, but is not in depth enough for more complicated, or older, properties.
A Building Survey (Level 3) is more in depth and is good for older or unusual properties, or ones that have had significant building work done to them. If you're planning on taking down walls, adding extensions or doing a lot of building work to your potential property, your Building Survey will tell you everything you need to know in detail.
If you're not sure, have a look at our guide: What type of survey do I need?
What is RICS?
The RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) is the governing body for Surveyors. They provide up to date training, support and guidance, and they designed the HomeBuyer and Building Surveys, so everyone can be sure they are receiving a high quality document with the necessary information.
All of the Chartered Surveyors and building surveyors on our site are regulated by RICS, so you can be sure they are well trained, experienced and trustworthy. Similarly, if you were unhappy with your surveyor, you could take this issue to RICS to discuss it.
How do I pick a good Chartered Surveyor?
Chartered Surveyors may offer different advantages, as some can offer a very quick turn around time on reports, or may specialise in certain types of building, but you can be sure they are all qualified if they are registered with RICS.
We always recommend having a look at reviews from other customers, and talking to your surveyor about what your concerns are before you pick them. Most surveyors are happy to talk through the report with you after you've received it, so ask if they offer those extra details if you're concerned about using the information in the report.
For more tips, you can check out our article on how to choose a great Chartered Surveyor.
Does my Surveyor need to be Chartered?
No, the surveyor you pick for your property does not have to be a Chartered Surveyor. As mentioned earlier, to be chartered simply means to have certain qualification within RICS. There are many surveyors that operate within RICS regulations but just don't have chartered status. It's simply an extra qualification, so whilst you may want to choose a Chartered Surveyor for their expertise, you can rest assured that all RICS surveyors are going to be of a high standard, and fully trained.
We only offer quotes from RICS regulated surveyors, because we know how important it is to work with an expert. You can get quotes for surveyors easily, and you'll receive up to four quotes from experienced building surveyors in your area.
Updated July 2021