What Does A Building Surveyor Do?

What does a building surveyor do and how can he help us when we are buying a house or are planning a major home improvement project?  Those are the questions we are looking to answer on this website.

Most of us will deal with a surveyor if we are buying a property, either through a homebuyers report or building survey, but a chartered building surveyor can also help with advice on building regulations and planning permission, can act as a project manager on home improvement projects, and can also issue condition reports to help tenants and landlords with their rental agreements.

We will look at all these things in detail elsewhere on this site but let’s get an overview first.

So, what does a building surveyor do?

A chartered building surveyor is accredited by the RICS and will provide a number of services such as:

Condition Report

A fairly low detailed report that gives an overview of a property.  This type of survey should really only be considered for very modern houses.

Homebuyers Report

This is a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) standard report for property buyers that provides a basic survey of the house. For new houses, or those that are only a few years old, this should be sufficient but, as a general rule, buyers of older houses are recommended to commission a full building survey.

Full Building Survey

This is the report that you should be considering if you are looking to buy an older property or one that is in disrepair.  It is very much more detailed and in-depth than a homebuyers report.  It is also more expensive but often will save buyers money in the long run as it can highlight issues and problems that a homebuyers report wouldn’t spot.

Personally I would always recommend home buyers to commission a full building survey.  Although they can cost up to £1000 the report can save you from being left with hefty repair bills from unexpected problems after buying a house.

Dilapidation Assessments

At the start or end of a lease it is highly recommended that a chartered building surveyor is commissioned to undertake a dilapidation assessment of the rental property.  This report highlights the exact condition of a property and helps resolve disputes between landlords and tenants over responsibility for repairs.

Planning Applications

For homeowners and developers the planning laws can be a real headache.  But a good surveyor is able to advise on planning matters and prepare a planning application.  This can be an invaluable service for homeowners.

Building Regulations

Like the planning laws building regulations can be a bit of a minefield.  A building surveyor will be able to guide you through the maze of regulations if you are building an extension or loft conversion for example.  There are hefty penalties for contravening the building regulations so it is worthwhile getting an expert to help you through the approval process.

A surveyor can also act as an independent building control officer instead of using the local council building control office.

Project Management

Surveyors are professionals and very experienced in managing large commercial construction projects.  But, they can also provide a project management role for residential projects such as loft conversions.  They will manage the build, supervise the builders and ensure the project is delivered to standard and to budget.

Dispute Resolution

If you are in dispute with a building company or tradesmen a surveyor can be brought in to act as arbitrator.


As can be seen from the above the answer to the question ‘what does a building surveyor do’ is….quite a lot!

On the other pages on this website we look at all the above services and how they apply to your project in much more detail.


For further information on building surveyors you can visit the RICS website or the sites of chartered surveyors such as the Delaney Marling Partnership.

Domestic Surveyor Residential Protection