What’s a Chartered Surveyor and do I need to hire one?

Do you need a survey done on a property? Do you need an independent assessment of the value of a property? It could be time to call in a chartered surveyor! A chartered surveyor is someone who assesses the value and condition of a physical asset like a house or a construction project, or someone who helps plan the creation of a new development. They can also advise you on obtaining planning permission, renovating a property, or environmental issues. There are different types of chartered surveyors and they all belong to the professional body, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which is online at: www.RICS.org.

When might I need one?

You would use a chartered surveyor if you wanted a valuation for a future or existing project or renovation. Surveyors can value land, buildings, or machinery; normally choosing to specialise in one area of work. For example, a rural surveyor would value a farm and its assets, whereas a building surveyor might value an urban apartment complex. In addition to this, chartered surveyors can give assistance to companies or individuals at the design and implementation stages of a construction project, often suggesting how to maximise the land available and helping consult with the planning authorities. A surveyor can also assess the condition of an existing building or site and produce a report for a client, detailing problems (including structural or environmental), potential solutions and their costs. What are the benefits of using a chartered surveyor? Using a chartered surveyor means that you are getting a professional opinion on an important and expensive investment like a house. Surveyors are property experts and will have had experience with the local authorities. They are well placed to advise you on valuations, the condition of a property, and how to deal with local authorities. The experience and expertise of chartered surveyors mean they will conduct a more thorough and accurate investigation than anyone else (including you!) can, which in turn means that you get the best advice on how to act – very important when you consider the huge value of property nowadays. A surveyor will also have access to services and information that you may not be able to uncover easily such as details of rights of way, affecting a property.

Where can I find one?

Many surveyors will advertise in the yellow pages, although your builder or estate agent will probably be able to recommend a local surveyor for you. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ website also has a search function, which lets you search for a RICS-accredited surveyor in your area. This is to be found here.

What services should a chartered surveyor offer?

You will need to choose a surveyor who specialises in your area of work; for example, if you wanted a survey done on a farm, you would not call a construction surveyor. The profession is a diverse one, and there are several different categories of chartered surveyors, including:
  • Building surveyors – advise on the design considerations and the construction of new buildings and repairs/restorations for existing buildings;
  • Construction surveyors – oversee and provide advice on large-scale construction projects, such as office blocks and housing estates;
  • Environmental surveyors – determine and monitor the effects of buildings on the environment – this could include something like advising someone who is building on contaminated land, for example;
  • Rural surveyors – value rural properties and their assets (like farms and farm machinery), and advise landowners when dealing with local authorities.

What qualifications/accreditations should you look for?

All surveyors should have completed a degree or course that is accredited by RICS (the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). RICS is the largest professional body of surveyors, and any surveyor must be a member to achieve chartered status. In addition to this, your surveyor must have completed a minimum of two years’ practical experience before taking the APC exam and becoming fully qualified. A fully qualified chartered surveyor will be able to use the letters MRICS in their title.