property surveyor

When embarking on the journey of buying a new home, one crucial step is commissioning a survey to assess the property’s condition. But what exactly does a property surveyor do? In this guide, we unravel the mysteries behind a surveyor’s role, detailing the information you can expect in your report and offering insights into finding the right house surveyor for your needs.

property surveyor
picture of a property surveyor



What Does a Property Surveyor Do?

A surveyor plays a vital role in providing expert advice on a property’s condition during the home-buying process. Their primary objective is to highlight any issues, defects, or potential problems that may impact the property. By using specialized equipment such as damp meters, binoculars, and torches, surveyors conduct a thorough examination to produce a detailed report, assisting you in making an informed decision on whether to proceed with the property purchase. The information gathered may also serve as a basis for negotiating the property’s price.

Inside the Property:

  1. Loft Inspection:
    • Surveyors inspect the roof space, using a ladder when safe and reasonable to do so.
    • RICS Home Survey – Level 2 includes a visual inspection of the roof structure.
    • RICS Home Survey Level 3 involves lifting small corners of insulation for a more detailed assessment.
  2. Roof Examination:
    • Exterior examination from ground level, covering chimney stacks and roof coverings.
    • Specialized roof surveys may be recommended in certain circumstances.
  3. Electrical Check:
    • Basic checks of main services, including electricity.
    • Limited to visible services, as surveyors cannot inspect hidden elements within the building.
    • Specialized tests on plumbing or electrics may require hiring a professional.
  4. Cupboard Inspection:
    • Surveyors typically look in cupboards under stairs.
    • Main focus remains on the structural integrity of the building.
  5. Additional Interior Assessment:
    • Evaluation of walls, partitions, floors, fireplaces, chimney breasts, built-in fittings, woodwork, and bathroom fittings.
    • Each element receives a condition rating.

Checking for Damp and Subsidence:

  • Damp Inspection:
    • HomeBuyers Report (Level 2) or Building Survey (Level 3) is recommended if damp is suspected.
    • Tests for damp in walls are included, with a Building Survey examining existing damp proofing.
  • Subsidence Check:
    • RICS Level 3 survey (building survey) is advisable for concerns about subsidence.
    • Consideration of a subsidence survey by a structural engineer may also be prudent.

Outside the Property:

  • Examination of the exterior from ground level, covering chimney stacks, roof coverings, rainwater pipes, gutters, main walls, windows, doors, conservatories, porches, and joinery.
  • Assessment of grounds, including boundary walls, fences, footpaths, decking areas, permanent outbuildings, and common areas in shared properties.
What Are The Factors Influencing Property Surveyor’s Scope:
  1. Survey Type:
    • The chosen survey type, such as RICS Home Survey – Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3, determines the depth of the inspection.
  2. Access Constraints:
    • Limited access, such as inaccessible roof spaces or vendor’s possessions obstructing areas, can impact the surveyor’s assessment.
  3. Weather Conditions:
    • Weather on the inspection day, such as rain, can influence the surveyor’s ability to assess certain elements.
  4. Vendor’s Presence:
    • If the vendor is present, surveyors can ask questions and gain additional insights.

Handling Dangerous Materials:

  • If asbestos or other hazardous materials are suspected, the surveyor should recommend further investigation.

Flagging Potential Legal Issues:

  • Surveyors may highlight legal concerns, such as building regulations, planning permissions, and the presence of warranties or certificates.

Highlighting Risks:

  • The survey report lists and explains identified risks, providing insights into potential issues affecting the property’s value.

Valuation Considerations:

  • RICS Home Survey Level 2 offers an optional valuation, providing a market value, insurance reinstatement figure, and a list of potential value-affecting problems.

What Surveyors Don’t Do:

  • While surveyors identify potential problems, further investigation may be recommended, such as involving a structural engineer for subsidence issues or obtaining additional reports for drainage or asbestos concerns.

Key Property Information:

  • The survey report includes essential details about the property, including its type, year built, extensions, conversions, number of rooms, EPC rating, environmental impact rating, and the presence of utility services.

Duration of Survey:

  • The duration varies based on the survey type, with a Home Survey Level 2 taking around 90 minutes to four hours, and a Home Survey Level 3 potentially taking up to eight hours.

Choosing a Property Surveyor:

  • Qualified surveyors affiliated with accrediting bodies like RICS or RPSA are recommended. SJH Surveying Services are RICS chartered surveyors.
  • Local surveyors with knowledge of the market are advantageous.
  • Consider experience in specific property types, especially for unique or unusual houses.


Understanding the comprehensive role of a property surveyor is crucial when navigating the complexities of property transactions. SJH Surveying Services ensures a thorough and professional approach to property surveys, offering expertise and guidance to homeowners and buyers. When seeking a surveyor, prioritize qualifications, experience, and local knowledge for a comprehensive assessment of your property.

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