The majority of people will only buy a property a few times in their lives. As a result, the process can be unfamiliar and seem daunting at the outset.
This also applies to instructing the services of a Chartered Surveyor. We’ll often get phone calls from people who have either come across us when searching for a local Surveyor or have been recommended to us by previous clients. They’ll request a quote…but then not know what else to ask! As such, it can be difficult to distinguish between firms and therefore make an informed choice.
Here’s some advice from our Surveyors on what to ask when enquiring about Surveying services:
Ask who will conduct the survey and what their qualifications are. Will it be an experienced RICS qualified Chartered Surveyor and/or an RICS Registered Valuer? It may surprise some buyers to learn that not all firms of Surveyors are as well-qualified as others. Ask if the firm is regulated by RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) – this is the professional body for the industry. Being a member of the RICS offers protection and assurance to consumers as it ensures high standards of service and also dictates that regulated firms are appropriately insured.
Ask the Surveyor how quickly the inspection can be completed and ensure that this fits in with your timescales. Be sure to also confirm how quickly you will receive the report following the inspection. If a firm is under-resourced, it might take a long time to actually receive the report which may risk the sellers getting nervous and the sale falling through.
Ask the Surveyor what is included in the price and what the Survey entails. Good Surveying practices that care about their customers will be only too pleased to explain this.
A good question to ask is whether the report will contain photographs. A report that has been conducted thoroughly will contain bespoke details and photographs of the property taken during the visit.
If you are phoning around a number of firms of Surveyors to find the cheapest price, do make sure that the service you are being quoted for is like for like. You cannot compare apples with oranges! It’s also worth remembering that it is the quality of the advice / report that is important, not necessarily the cheapest price. Paying a little more for a better Survey might save you thousands of pounds in the long run.
It may also be useful to ask about payment terms and payment methods – eg. whether you can pay over the phone or with a credit card.
When seeking to instruct a Chartered Surveyor, it is helpful to have as much information about the property to hand as possible. For example, they will need to know the property address, whether it is a residential or commercial property, what type of property it is (terraced/detached/ apartment, barn conversion etc) and the name of the estate agent. Other details, such as if it is an old or listed building can also be useful to the Surveyor. Where the property particulars are online, e.g. listed on Rightmove, the Surveyor can benefit from this information.
Additionally, it can be helpful to mention any specific issues that you would like the Surveyor to pay particular attention to, or any concerns that you have about the building. Also, if you are buying the building knowing that you intend to make any changes to its internal or external structure (eg. knock down any walls, build an extension), you may be wise to mention this so the Surveyor can assess and report back on anything that may be pertinent to these plans.
Knowing what type of Surveying Report you need is useful but this area can be a minefield, and not all buyers are well-versed on the differences between the various reports Surveyors offer. Most Surveyors will happy to advise on the most appropriate report for you. In order to help, you’ll firstly need to explain what purpose you need your Survey for – is it because you are buying a house to live in yourself? Are you buying to let, or is there a defect or a condition-related problem with the property that you want the Surveyor to look at?
Secondly, consider whether it is the value of the property that you need to know, or whether it is the condition of the building that you require expert advice upon. This may dictate whether you require a Chartered Valuation Surveyor or a Chartered Building Surveyor.
If you are still unsure, ask if the Surveyor has a leaflet that they can send to you to explain the differences between the types of Survey.
We know that buying a property is a big thing for people. We’re happy to spend time answering questions, explaining the different types of reports available and helping buyers to feel reassured throughout the moving process.
Want to know more? Put us to the test and pick up the phone! You can contact us here.