Choosing a Surveyor

Fiona Togher MRICS, Partner at Hamilton Darcey advises on how to find a surveyor, make sure they're a good one and what to consider around the potential costs.

When faced with the challenge of finding a surveyor, it can seem somewhat overwhelming. What to look for, where to look and what to ask are all decisions that need to be made. We hope the pointers below offer some guidance into getting these decisions right and make the whole process simpler and a little less daunting!

How to find a surveyor

The best, tried and tested way is to get a recommendation. Positive, first-hand experience from someone you know will re-assure you.

The next best option is to look on the ‘RICS Find A Surveyor’ section on the RICS website. This will help you find a surveyor local to your property, allow you to select the specific type of surveying service you require and select firms which are regulated by RICS. These firms must follow the RICS Rules of Conduct for Firms and are held to a higher standard generally than those not regulated. We recommend you always opt for a regulated firm.

Try to have a clear understanding of what you require, but if you don’t, any surveying firm should help guide you. At Hamilton Darcey LLP we often receive calls where a client is unclear what they need a surveyor for. They may have received a Party Wall Notice from a neighbouring property or been told by a solicitor that they require a Building Survey or a Licence for Alteration. Following a brief conversation we can usually extract the information required to give advice and point them in the right direction.

In many instances it is beneficial to meet face-to-face, prior to appointment, especially for a major works project or one where you will be working closely with the surveyor.

What makes a good surveyor?

A surveyor should always be clear and transparent from the outset. Most will be willing to give impartial advice during initial discussions.

Experience can rarely be beaten. A surveyor with good experience should be able to provide examples of work which relate to the enquiry. They may be in the form of photographs of a major works project, an example document of a defects report or Planned Maintenance Programme or they can physically show you a completed project.

A good surveyor will know their limitations. If the services they are being asked to quote for are outside their remit, they should be confident to advise that this is the case and be able to point you in the direction of the right person or specialist firm.

What will it cost?

When obtaining costs, get comparisons and ensure that each surveyor is quoting on the same basis. Check their Terms of Business and look out for any additional fees not included in the main fee quotation but possibly mentioned elsewhere. Also be mindful to check their level of Professional Indemnity Insurance to ensure adequate cover for your project.

Do not be afraid to ask who will be carrying out the day-to-day running of a project or who will be undertaking the inspection. A competitive quote may only be competitive in price, not quality, if carried out by someone without the relevant experience. At Hamilton Darcey LLP we ensure that an experienced Chartered Surveyor takes the lead on all projects, whilst ensuring graduates get exposure to gain experience to develop the skillset required to be competent qualified surveyor.

When evaluating costs remember that cheapest is not always best. It is likely that property will be the biggest purchase you make and therefore investing money in a good surveyor is fundamental to maintain and appreciate the property’s value.

Fiona Togher MRICS is a Partner at Hamilton Darcey, a RICS regulated Chartered Surveying practice based in London. Hamilton Darcey have a wealth of experience spanning a range of disciplines, including major works project management, statutory compliance, neighbourly matters and technical due diligence, they act as a trusted advisor to both individuals and corporate entities.