Property surveyors: how to choose one (and what they do)

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Property surveyors: how to choose one (and what they do)

If you’re buying a new home it makes sense to have it inspected by someone who knows what problems to look out for. That means finding a qualified and experienced property surveyor.

Surveys are optional. But when you’ve found your dream home it’s important to give it a reality check. A surveyor will see the things you might not have noticed, or realised were a problem, like damp or subsidence. As well as highlighting any snags, their report could tell you how much you’d need to spend on repairs, which could help you renegotiate the sale price. And that might add up to a big saving.

What is a chartered surveyor?

A chartered surveyor will have taken a course in construction, civil engineering, surveying or building engineering. This makes them qualified to value a property, and spot anything that’s wrong with it or that could cause trouble down the line. They’ll write up what they find in a report, which you can use as part of the process of buying the property.

What reports are available?

If you’re in England and Wales, your choices start with the Condition Report, which is very basic. Most people choose the more detailed HomeBuyer Report, which flags problems like dry rot or damp. The Building Survey goes into more depth and is good for properties that are old, unusual or have had a lot of building work done.

In Scotland, Home Reports are slightly different. The seller arranges them, so they’ve got all the information handy when the property goes on the market.

How to choose the surveyor for your property

Start local.

The best place to start is with firms nearby. Their surveyors will have been into lots of similar buildings and know about the area. Ask neighbours or look up reviews – it’s always good to know how surveyors’ previous customers have rated them.

Look for MRICS or FRICS after their name

These initials show they’re members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which makes sure they stick to a code of professional conduct.

Compare quotes

You’ll probably find that prices vary. Be clear what’s included in the quote and see if someone is offering more for your money. You could ask to see a sample report, too.

Ask about their experience

If you’re buying an unusual property like an almshouse, castle or converted water tower (amazing!) make sure your surveyor has the right experience to give you the information you need.

Check they’re available

If you’re on a tight turnaround, find out how long you’ll have to wait before you have the survey in your hands.

In a nutshell

The person you choose to survey your new home could save you a heck of a lot of money. So make sure you base your decision on more than price. Think about the type of property you’re buying, the details you want to know, and whether surveyor has the experience to spot them.

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