A day in the life of a building surveyor04/10/21
One of the best things about being a building surveyor is getting to see some amazing properties; some can be so interesting from an architectural or historical point of view.
Surveying is a combination of art and science
A surveyor’s work involves a combination of both art and science; surveying buildings is an art, while verifying the cause of any failure is a science. Of course, it’s not just about finding fault, surveying also requires an understanding of what the future might hold for a building and problems that might occur. A surveyor’s role can save lives, as well as improve health and protect wealth. Being prepared is crucial to any survey and it’s essential to leave nothing to chance!
There are three levels of RICS home survey. I mostly deal with the Level 3 survey, often confused with a structural survey. This is actually a thorough inspection of the property and a detailed report based on the inspection.
The Level 3 home survey service aims to give a customer professional advice to:
- help make a reasoned and informed decision when purchasing the property, or when planning for repairs, maintenance or upgrading the property.
- provide detailed advice on condition.
- describe the identifiable risk of potential or hidden defects.
- propose the most probable cause(s) of the defects based on the inspection and where practicable and agreed, provide an estimate of costs and likely timescale for identified repairs and necessary work.
I’m representing the client and my profession so it’s important to be tactful and pleasant when inspecting properties. I need to be able to put a vendor at ease while I’m poking around, basically looking for faults. I always explain why I’m there, what the survey involves and why I need to look around in so much detail.
Prepare for the unexpected!
You also have to be prepared for the unexpected and to have a sense of humour. On one memorable occasion, while talking to the vendor, their dog relieved itself on my leg, leaving me with a wet leg for the duration of the survey. The vendor was obviously mortified but I made sure that the unfortunate event was in no way reflected in the final outcome of the report!
Getting wet, cold and dirty is also part of the job. Depending on what is necessary and if it is safe to do so, you may have to crawl around in a dark roof void. Lifting loft hatches is always a fun way to start the day as you can get showered with years of accumulated dirt. On the positive side, at least when it’s pouring with rain, it’s much easier to identify where leaks are coming from!
Dave Bates, Senior Building Surveyor