Most people may require the services of a chartered surveyor only once or twice in their lifetime, so the responsibility of choosing one for your residential or commercial building survey can seem daunting. However, the process of selection is relatively straightforward if you have the following list of requirements to hand.
Ensure that any chartered surveyor you approach is a member of RICS – the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
Membership ensures that the person is professionally qualified and operates to a clear set of technical, ethical and professional standards.
It also gives you confidence that you have some recourse in the event that you are unhappy with their work for some reason, as RICS actively enforce their standards and provide clients with a complaints procedure should the need arise.
The more experienced a surveyor, the more likely they are to notice details of a building that are important to a potential buyer. This includes noticing small telltale signs of potentially serious problems; it also involves taking a measured view of issues which may look serious on the surface but which can in fact be rectified quite easily. Put simply, the more properties a surveyor has surveyed, the more confidence you can place in their assessment of a building and any associated advice about how to deal with any defects.
Look for evidence that your surveyor has a good track record of conducting building surveys on a wide variety of properties. Most surveyors these days will have a website with evidence of their recent surveys on it or will be only too happy to tell you about some of their recent work. Choosing a RICS surveyor with MRICS after their name ensures a minimum level of experience.
When you commission a property survey, whether for a residential or commercial building, it is vital that your chosen surveyor acts completely in your interests, with no possibility of influence by another party.
There are many chartered surveyors attached to other property related businesses, such as estate agents, solicitors, mortgage advisers or lenders. When you come into contact with these businesses in the course of searching for a property or arranging finance, they may suggest that you use one of their own surveyors. This can be tempting as it offers an easy route to getting a survey done – and there may even be a financial incentive to do so, such as a cut price or even free survey if you take out one of their products.
Although unlikely, you need to be sure that there is no possible conflict of interest and that the surveyor will have only your interests in mind when conducting the survey and documenting their findings. For instance, an estate agent has an interest in getting a property sold, and a mortgage broker has an interest in you proceeding with a purchase and taking out a mortgage through them.
Only by choosing a fully independent chartered surveyor can you ensure that this type of conflict of interest does not arise and that the surveyor is answerable to you, and you alone.
Qualifications and experience aside, one of the most important things that you need from your surveyor is to be able to talk to them. Each property is unique, as are the concerns of each client – so it is vital that you are able to communicate any particular areas of concern that you have about a property and that you would like the survey to focus upon.
Once the survey has been completed, you may well have questions about the findings – either to clarify what they mean, or to understand the potential repercussions (e.g. what work is involved to put right any defects discovered). While a surveyor cannot advise you whether you should or should not buy a property, they should be able to help you to fully understand the scope of any work or costs involved if you do buy, so that you can make a much more fully informed decision.
If you prefer to discuss things over the phone, initiate your enquiry with a phone call. Or, if you prefer email communication, send an email enquiry and gauge their responsiveness via that medium instead.
Paul Anderson (MRICS) – Chartered Surveyor Ipswich
Founder and director of Anderson Associates, Paul Anderson, is a chartered surveyor based in Suffolk. We cover East London, South East London, Kent, Essex, and Suffolk.
We have always been a fully independent company, giving impartial advice to each individual client. We can be contacted by phone or email as you prefer on 01473 623 656, freephone 0800 652 8285, firstname.lastname@example.org. Or email@example.com