What type of surveyor do I need for my property?

Different types of surveyors


Chartered Surveyors cover a wide range of property related disciplines. So it’s important to pick those with the right qualifications and experience for your property or project.

Whilst anyone can call themselves a ‘surveyor’ – (a title double glazing salesmen sometimes adopt) – only qualified members of the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) can call themselves chartered – the real deal. Qualifications are either MRICS or FRICS  (Members or Fellows – there’s little practical difference).



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Picking the right surveyor


It’s an unfortunate fact of life that the quality of survey reports varies greatly. Much will depend on the experience and ability of the surveyor you appoint, and the amount of time they take to do a good job. 

It’s important to be aware that when mortgage lenders arrange Homebuyer or Building Surveys on your behalf they instruct large corporate ‘panel’ surveying firms whose staff surveyors mostly specialise in mortgage valuations. The banks do this because they can keep a share of the survey fee you pay. 

Staff surveyors working for corporate firms generally have less time to devote to surveys as they are under pressure to carry out 5 or more inspections per day, often covering more than one county.  Staff surveyors tend to be less experienced, and are not always from the local area. There is always a risk is that surveys from this source will be rushed, with reports sometimes taking several says to be typed. was established (in 2008) to provide easy access to experienced local independent chartered surveyors who take the time to do a thorough job and a genuine pride in their work. 



Different roles in the surveying profession


Building Surveyors are experts in construction. Most advise on the maintenance and repair of existing buildings, with some specialising in advising clients about the architectural design and construction of new buildings. Many cover both areas of expertise, or may specialise further in areas like conservation of historic buildings, others are experts in structures and can perform the role of structural engineers.

Clients range from home owners to large commercial and industrial companies.


 Valuation Surveyors are experts in valuation and rating work, often specialising in specific types of property,  residential or commercial – which can include everything from shops, offices and warehouses to factories and plant & equipment etc.  Some may specialise in Rating, Facilities management etc.

The focus is more on finance than details of construction. Other areas of expertise may include valuing leasehold interests, negotiating the extension of older short leases and advising on leasehold enfranchisement – where for example owners of flats wish to jointly own the Freehold.  Professional valuers are normally members of the RICS Valuer Registration Scheme (VRS) which requires an annual assessment and compliance with RICS ‘Red Book’ guidelines. Most work for large corporate residential surveying firms or local authority valuation departments.


Quantity Surveyors (QS) play a key role in construction projects, managing the costs from the early design plans, through to completion. They also ensure that projects meet legal and quality standards, and that clients get good value for their money, and can administer contracts.


Land/Geomatics surveyors measure and collect data on land due for development. They can survey a range of different areas, including airports, landfill sites, mines and quarries, and pipeline and distribution systems.

Geomatics is one of the most technologically advanced of the surveying specialist roles and has a key role in a diverse range of sectors, including: construction;  cartography; offshore engineering and exploration; geographical information systems.


Party Wall Surveyors   The Party Wall Act 1996 was designed to prevent and resolve disputes between owners of neighbouring properties in relation to work on or close to a party wall.

The aim is to ensure that Adjoining Owners do not suffer loss or damage to their property. The Party Wall Act states that if any damage is caused to an Adjoining Owner’s property, it must be remedied at the expense of the Building Owner.

To assist with the identification of any damage that might occur, Party Wall Surveyors carry out a descriptive and photographic schedule of condition to those parts of an Adjoining Owner’s property, which are at risk from damage, prior to the commencement of building works being undertaken to the Building Owner’s property.

A Schedule of Condition is incorporated within a Party Wall Award, which is a formal document describing in detail the work to be carried out by the Building Owner.