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A surveyor is a professional whose job is to assess the structural integrity and value of a property.

The RICS is the regulatory body for surveyors in the UK. There are several disciplines regulated by the RICS, which include building surveying, quantity surveying, valuation surveying, and land surveying. The surveyor you instruct to survey your property or a property you want to buy is likely to be a residential surveyor with qualifications & experience in both building surveying and valuation surveying.

There are three levels of membership in the RICS, these are;

Building Surveying

Surveyors, particularly building surveyors, are experts in structural issues. They can assess the construction methods of a building, look for signs of defects and evaluate how they have occurred. They can then advise on the remedy and the associated cost. They also have an in-depth knowledge of building regulations and so can inform when a building doesn’t meet the required standards, or there is a risk to people.


One of the disciplines in surveying is valuation. Valuation surveyors assess the market value of residential and commercial premises. There are several purposes for a valuation survey including; verifying value for a buyer, probate, divorce settlement, taxation, secured loans, or remortgaging purposes.

There are many different methods of valuation, but for general residential purposes, the most common is the comparable method. This method is where the surveyor compares sold prices in the area to form conclusions about the value of the subject property.

Instructing a surveyor

If you commission an RICS Building Survey (Level 3) or RICS Homebuyers Report (Level 2) on a property you are buying, the surveyor will assess the condition and if required, the value of the property. The building survey (Level 3) will go into more detail on the health and structural integrity of the building. In contrast, the Homebuyers Report (Level 2) will be less comprehensive on the structure but may include a valuation and reinstatement cost for insurance purposes.

These surveys will involve the surveyor visiting the property and assessing every element of the building by way of visual inspection. The surveyor will take notes and then retire to write a report on their findings. The surveyor may consult with the client on the results and advise how they should proceed, but this would depend on the type of report, and the level of service agreed upon.

In a standard RICS report such as an RICS Building Survey (Level 3) or Homebuyers Report (Level 2), the surveyor will look at each element of the building inside and out. Outside, they will look at things like brickwork, windows, roof, the immediate ground, and surrounding structures and include any risks to the building and people. Inside the surveyor will look at things like walls, ceilings, woodwork, and roof space, and assess if there is a significant amount of money to spend to get the property up to standard.

An RICS surveyor will never check services such as electricity or gas simply because they are not qualified to do so and it would not be safe. There are other things a surveyor will not check if it is outside the scope of the survey they could not gain access. RICS surveys are a visual inspection only, so a surveyor can not inspect concealed areas or areas which would require an intrusive investigation. The surveyor will usually advise what to do about these things, which may involve getting a specialist to check.

Surveyors can carry out many other services such as structural inspections, asbestos reports, commercial surveys, residential valuations, schedule of condition, land valuation or land survey, boundary dispute, party wall surveys, dilapidation reports, rent reviews etc.


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The material contained in this article is intended for information purposes only and not as advice. We take no responsibility for the result of any actions you take as a result of reading this information.

You should always obtain professional legal or other advice if you are unsure about the effect on you of any matter in this article.

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