Finding the right surveyor, especially if you are buying a home for the first time, can seem daunting. After all, there are over 55,000 of us in the UK! Here we provide all-important tips on deciding which surveyor is right for you.
Choosing a Surveyor
RICS registered surveyors
First and foremost, you need to find a RICS qualified surveyor. RICS is the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and its role is to set and enforce standards for surveys to protect homebuyers and businesses.
Why is using a RICS chartered surveyor important? Because to qualify as a RICS chartered surveyor you need either:
- Relevant experience and an RICS-accredited degree
- 5 years of relevant experience and any bachelor’s degree
- 10 years of relevant experience operating at an advanced level
As a client, you can have full confidence in their professional abilities and conduct. Any member who doesn’t comply with RICS standards will be sanctioned, and may lose their right to describe themselves as a RICS surveyor. Anyone can undertake surveys, but the only regulated professionals are RICS surveyors. RICS qualifications also guarantee that your surveyor is suitably experienced.
Recommendations and reviews
Many surveyors will post reviews and testimonials on their websites, as we do at Robinson Elliott. There are also a host of independent reviews at websites including HomeOwners Alliance, Check A Trade and Which? Trusted Traders.
Personal recommendations too can be invaluable. If you know people who have had a survey carried out in a similar position to your own, it’s always a good idea to talk with them about their experience.
Surveys are a relatively minor cost compared to the amount you’ll inevitably spend when you buy a home. You can shop around for the lowest price, but it’s important not to compromise on the quality of your survey. You need to be confident that you are getting all the information you need to buy without any nasty surprises.
Survey costs depend mainly on the type of property you are buying. RICS Level 1 surveys are designed for modern homes in good condition and you should expect to pay between £300 and £700. The next step up, for a more detailed report on homes without significant defects, is Level 2 where prices are likely to be in the range of £600 to £1200. For older, larger and higher value homes, a Level 3 survey is usually the best option, at a cost of around £1500 to £2500. You can also get a RICS valuation for £200 to £600.
We’re always happy to provide a quote. Simply send us your details and we’ll get back to you without delay.
Local area knowledge
You really do need a surveyor who knows your local area. Throughout the country there are different types of housing as well as a variety of issues and possible defects which are unique to each area. At Robinson Elliott, we’re based in the heart of the South-East in East Grinstead, and have over 30 years’ experience in all types of property in East Sussex, West Sussex, Surrey, Kent and London.
As RICS chartered surveyors we offer a full range of surveys. We will tell you about the most suitable approach for your property, and will be provide reports which fully comply with RICS standards. We also go beyond the level of reporting specified by RICS, and will thoroughly explain all of our observations and assessments. RICS now requires to include a ‘traffic light’ rating for any work which needs doing:
We’re proud to say that this was the way we reported before RICS made it standard. We also never use complicated jargon, and our clients benefit form clear, easy-to-read information about their property.
Where to find a surveyor
Mortgage advisers, lenders and estate agents
Homebuyers will generally use the services of mortgage advisers, lenders and estate agents. Each will generally be in a position to recommend surveyors. In the case of lenders in particular there may be a range of approved surveyors, and many mortgages are dependent on surveys being carried out.
Mortgage advisers and estate agents will have connections with surveyors, and are usually pleased to make recommendations to help property transactions go through. Other professionals involved in property purchases such as solicitors and licensed conveyancers may also be in a position to recommend surveyors.
Family and friends
The most trusted recommendations usually come from our friends and family. For surveys, the only proviso is that you take account of how relevant the recommendation is for you. Ideally, the recommendation will be based on surveying a property similar to your own and in the same area. If a particular surveyor has done a good job for them, there’s no reason why they won’t do the same for you.
The RICS website includes a full listing of RICS members which you can search by location and the services they provide. All listings are for qualified professionals, so you can rely on any of the members you find.
In addition to the websites listed earlier, there are plenty of other ways of finding a surveyor. Google Maps will show you their location, as well as a Google rating. Comparison sites and review sites can also be helpful, as well as sites which can put you directly in touch with surveyors such as local surveyors direct, rightsurvey and really moving.
Checklist for choosing a good surveyor
In summary, here are the key things you need to look for, and to do.
Find a local surveyor
Surveyors close to the home you’re buying are invariably better to work with. You are paying for an assessment of the building, but you also want to be able to rely on local knowledge to avoid any pitfalls. Even if you are buying a long way from home, you’ll no doubt make several visits to the area, allowing you to meet local surveyors face-to-face.
There’s no substitute for professional expertise and standards, and the RICS qualification is the only way of ensuring that your surveyor can deliver the service you require. Given the price of property, the cost of RICS survey is relatively small, but the reassurance you receive is of enormous value.
Check reviews and references
It’s always best not to treat online reviews and references at face value. Cross check online reviews to make sure they are consistent, and if any references are given, speak to the surveyor about verifying them.
Ask for quotes
All RICS-qualified surveyors will be prepared to give you a quote for different levels of survey, and to advise you on the best survey for your property. You can then compare prices as part of weighing up which surveyor to use.
Research alternatives to estate agent recommendations
Estate agents may recommend surveyors with whom they have an established relationship, but there will be other options. The recommendation may be just right but it is worth taking the time to see if you can get a better service or price from someone else.
Check that the services offered meet your needs
Most surveyors should be able to carry out RICS surveys appropriate to the type of home you are buying. However, beware of firms which offer a ‘one size fits all’ approach to surveys, and which might be guilty of cutting corners. Equally, don’t go to large, expensive City-type firms unless, for some reason, you are convinced that you need a particularly large bill!