I have worked with surveyors both personally and professionally throughout the years and to be honest, I don't know what I would do without them. They are one of the nicest and most diligent people I know in the industry. But they are also one of the most under utilised too.
The first thing to know is times change and there are now two types of qualifications surveyors can have:-
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
These guys are extremely well educated and spend many years at university understanding not just a property's structure, but how to finance property projects, the legals relating to property, property management from large blocks of flats to commercial buildings and individual residential properties. They also know how to value property and buildings from a price and rental perspective.
SAVA Home Condition Reports (RPSA members)
This is where someone is qualified to carry out a specific report which assesses the condition of a property. This means they understand building materials and how much maintenance a property requires. This report also comes with a warranty
Here are five reasons I have always used a surveyor for my property projects!
The amount of people I talk to who get their builder in or a plumber to sort out a damp problem, especially landlords, is huge. But it is a really bad idea. Damp is an incredibly complex problem and can be caused by people or the building or the land underneath. You really need an expert to diagnose the problem and recommend the fix.
Living in a house for longer than 10 years
Now that people are, on average, living in their homes for around 20 years, every single homeowner should be using a surveyor! I get one in pretty much every 10 years (this is the first house I've lived in for that long!) but when my dad died, leaving my mum in a big old house, one of the first thing I did was get a surveyor out to the property.
The reason a house needs a survey is to make sure that any problems are picked up before they become a major issue. Properties can get damp, they can 'slip' if the land underneath has problems, materials can deteriorate, roofs can have lead flashing and tiles go missing, guttering and drains can stop working properly.
A survey every 10 years or so can help give you a plan of what maintenance will be required, at what cost over the coming years.
I think that if you have a big old house and are looking to sell having lived there for a long time, it is worth getting at least a Home Condition Report to make sure that you know of problems which could cost you the sale. This gives you a chance to put it right or a means you can adjust the price accordingly when it goes on sale.
This way you can save a lot of heart ache with your sale falling through or making an offer on another property which you then lose.
Renovation work, including extensions and conversions
Whenever you are about to carry out an extension or convert a building, a surveyor can come round and check the property before, during and after the work is carried out. This is especially useful if you have neighbours who are extending their home and you share walls (called party walls). This makes sure that if builders are to blame for problems which occur for neighbours or yourself, then you have an independent, professional assessment of the property's condition before and after.
Assessing property for investment purposes
There are lots of amateur investors who rush into buying a property through investment clubs or by themselves and don't get an expert's opinion on the property's condition or on it's true value or rental and investment potential. Many an investor that has lost thousands or tens of thousands on a property do so because they didn't seek specialist advice.
Property requires a professional person to assess it's investment potential. If you have only bought a home or two, then you should absolutely make sure you use a surveyor to at least check the condition, give you a maintenance or renovation schedule and add in an investment potential survey.
For more about how to carry out a surveyor, visit our Surveying checklist