There are several important factors to consider before you instruct a Surveyor to inspect a property on your behalf:
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is recognised as the leading UK regulatory body for Surveyors. Only RICS members can use the designation "Chartered Surveyor" and only a Chartered Surveyor can prepare the RICS HomeBuyer Report, which is an RICS licensed product. Be wary of firms offering a "Home Buyer Survey" (or similar) without the RICS prefix - this is likely to be an imitation of the RICS product and it may not be prepared by a Chartered Surveyor.
RICS members must have a minimum of £1,000,000 professional indemnity insurance cover and a formal Complaints Handling Procedure.
If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, just wait until you try an amateur.
Remember that the bigger practices may have "junior" surveyors and many also use part time/"zero hours" outside consultants. If the practice has cut its fee to secure your instruction, will the job be passed down the line to a less-experienced Surveyor? Why not ask who will carry out your survey and whether you can speak to the Surveyor about any concerns you may have BEFORE you decide to proceed? If you've ended up speaking to a "call centre" you may find it difficult to speak to a surveyor at all let alone the one who may inspect the property for you!
"When seeking professional advice always ensure the Chartered Surveyor you appoint has the right experience, qualifications and resources to deliver what you need - and remember don’t buy the price, buy the expertise; this is not the place to cut corners".
Edwards Genesis is an independent practice and the Directors and Associates have over 75 years' combined experience of valuation and survey work in the North West of England. All our professional work is undertaken by The Directors/Associates - we do not employ "junior" Surveyors or part-time/outside consultants and we do not have any surveyors on "zero hours" contracts.
Why not ask your Solicitor/Conveyancer, or even the estate agent selling the property, for the names of one or two local Surveyors who have a good reputation?
This is especially important as Surveyors travelling a long way outside their normal geographical area may not know of problems specific to the locality or the type of property being inspected, and may not be aware of factors that could affect the value and saleability of the property. How "local" will your Surveyor be? We know of one instance where a firm with only one office in the North West but claiming to offer widespread coverage secured an instruction for a Home Buyer Report in Hull at a fee of only £175! The Surveyor must have spent around 4 hours travelling to and from the house - probably twice as long as the survey inspection would have taken assuming the Surveyor still felt motivated to do the job properly after such a long journey! Be wary of the "networking" groups - they may give the impression of being "local" but often work on the basis of securing your instruction and then finding a surveyor who is available to do the job, but that surveyor may be based miles away from the property and may receive only a small proportion of the fee you pay - the rest goes in administration costs and "commission".
Don't be taken in by what seems to be a cheap fee! As John Ruskin once pertinently said:
There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are that person’s lawful prey. It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money -- that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot -- it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.
Check what you are being offered and compare it with what other local Surveyors may charge for the same service. For example - on a HomeBuyer Survey - will the Surveyor lift manhole covers, climb on a flat roof or go under a wooden floor? Ask to see an example of the Surveyor's report format (ideally a completed report not just a blank template) - it should be possible to e-mail you a copy! Is it written in plain and understandable language with good spelling, grammar and punctuation? If not, perhaps you should question how much care went into its preparation! By all means look for good "value for money" but remember it is probably not worth worrying about saving, say, £50 on the price of a survey on a house that may be costing you tens or even hundred of thousands of pounds. Whether you are commissioning a property survey or buying any other professional service if you are only looking to deal with the cheapest provider you are probably undervaluing the job as no other supplier is prepared to do the job at that price!
Please visit the Our Services page for examples of the various types of report we can provide.
This may not be critical to you but it certainly could be if you are facing competition from other buyers for the house you want to purchase or if you are under pressure to move quickly so that you don't lose the sale of your own house.
In any event, you won't want to wait forever to get your report. Be realistic, though - if you ask for a Building Survey on a 6 bedroom Victorian mansion at a fee of several hundred pounds it's unlikely that a Surveyor could (or even ought to try to!) inspect the property and prepare a multi-page report within a couple of days! The Surveyor will need several hours on site, and about the same time to dictate the report, which will then have to be typed, checked and assembled.
A realistic "average" turn round time for a HomeBuyer Report is perhaps 3-5 working days, depending on the size and age of the house. Building Survey reports are likely to take at least a week to prepare after the inspection. Remember that the Surveyor quoting cheap fees may have more work than others and your instruction may end up at the bottom of a long list of other jobs to be dealt with! Be wary of surveyors offering "same or next day" turnaraound - a surveyor should never clock watch when carrying out a survey inspection, it takes as long as it takes, and a requirement of the RICS is that the surveyor should then give his findings on site "mature reflection" before producing the final report. A cheap fee and a 24 hour turnaround time probably means an inspection where corners are cut and a report that contains little useful information.
Factors likely to influence reporting times include the state of the market (Surveyors are much in demand during busy periods, especially if they undertake mortgage valuation work), the time of year (Surveyors have reduced working hours in the Winter when it goes dark earlier!) and the ease of access to the house - some vendors can be remarkably awkward when it comes to providing access to Surveyors!
This can be a problem area! Surveyors haven't used the term "structural survey" for many years but it's still out there! There is also no such thing as a "full" survey - it is impossible to take a building to pieces and there will always be parts that the surveyor simply cannot inspect. What is really implied by the term "full survey" is a detailed inpection followed by a comprehensive written report. We prefer the term "Building Survey" but there is no generally accepted definition of a "Building Survey" - it's another term often used without any thought as to what it means! A Structural Engineer's "structural survey" will probably cover just the load bearing structure and will NOT include areas such as dampness, timber decay and general disrepair. Is this what you want or need? If you think you should have a "Building Survey" make sure you speak to a locally-based and experienced Surveyor to discuss your concerns and what the survey will cover AND make sure you see a copy example of what you are likely to get before you commit to a fee of several hundred pounds. IGNORE WHAT THE REPORT IS CALLED ON THE FRONT PAGE, take a look inside and see what it covers and whether that will suit your needs - anybody can call anything a "Building Survey"! You should certainly be expecting a Building Survey to include photographs.
Do you want it to? Some "structural/building" surveys, and even some "Home Buyer Surveys" don't! This is usually because they are not prepared by Chartered Surveyors, and/or because the Surveyor doesn't have the local market knowledge to be able to offer valuation advice. Chartered Surveyors providing valuation advice, including that given within the RICS HomeBuyer Survey, MUST be registered with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' Valuer Registration Schems (VRS).
Edwards Genesis is a VAT registered Company and our serices are subject to VAT. We will, however, always confirm the full fee, including VAT, at the time we are instructed.
Please visit the resources page for a PDF of our Payment Terms.
It may be useful to discuss the property and your concerns with a Surveyor, particularly one who knows the area. The Surveyor will then be aware of items that worry you and will be better able to advise on the right type of Report and any additional advice that you may require from other professionals. If you are unsure what service you may require, why not speak to one of our Chartered Surveyors and discuss your requirements? This preliminary advice is free and without obligation.
Over the years we have found that it is often beneficial for the client to meet the Surveyor during the property inspection. This can help the Surveyor understand a client's particular concerns regarding the property, and the client may also benefit from the Surveyor pointing out defects before the written report is issued - you may find it easier to understand why the Surveyor says some of the wooden floor needs replacing if you've seen the rotten timbers yourself! Where it is practical to do so, we are happy for clients to meet the Surveyor "on site" and we make no extra charge for this service.
We are happy to discuss the content of our reports with clients by telephone, e-mail or "face to face". We will also forward a copy of our report onto your legal adviser if appropriate at no extra charge.
Edwards Genesis have a formal Complaints Handling Procedure in accordance with the Regulations of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
Copy available on request.