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Advice from Surveyors to Homeowners When a Survey Is Being Undertaken

Tue 24 July 2018

Whilst there is often information about what a surveyor will be looking at when undertaking a survey at a property, there is never really any advice for homeowners on how they can assist the surveyor to enable the survey to be carried out smoothly and in an acceptable amount of time. We felt that it would be well worth trying to set out a couple of basic points from our own experiences.

As a company we undertake a wide range of surveys, which start at the more basic level with Valuations and Energy Performance Certificates, then up to the Homebuyers Surveys and onto the detailed Specific Defect Surveys and Building Surveys. As a result of this, we see an extremely wide range of properties, from small flats to listed buildings with extensive outbuildings.

Nevertheless, the advice to homeowners from surveyors remains largely the same whatever size property they will be attending or where it is. Generally there are no problems or issues, most homeowners are well prepared and able to assist in making the survey run smoothly, but other times we come across some unusual circumstances, which give us a smile or a talking point. Here is some helpful advice from the later:

  • Be prepared for the surveyor
    • Surveys are usually booked in advance, with dates and times agreed, but on rare occasions the occupier seems to have forgotten and is still asleep, halfway through a shower, or very underdressed for the occasion!!!!.
  • Make sure rooms are tidy and accessible prior to appointment
    • It is fairly common, especially when moving house, that rooms are either in the progress of been boxed up or being sorted out. We do get occasions where we cannot get into most the rooms, due to boxes or furniture being stored. If a little room to get around could be kept, it would allow a simple survey of that portion of the building to be carried out.
  • Allow the surveyor to carry out their job
    • Whilst all surveyors enjoy having a chat, it is always helpful if this is focussed on the relevant issues, such as the building’s history and extensions.
    • Ensure that if you have any pets, they are kept under control. Within our area this does not simply cover cats and dogs, but also sheep and cows. The surveyor would always appreciate advance warning if there is stock in a field which he is going into, if it is not obvious. If you know there is likely to be an animal issue, please warn them. We once had an experience where the homeowner warned me that his cat liked siting in the loft space, and just as I lifted the hatch, we had a cat staring back at us. Prewarned was definitely beneficial in this instant.
  • Help the surveyor where you can.
    • If your loft has a pull down ladder, or you do not have a loft space, tell the surveyor.
    • One to please most surveyors, please feel free to offer us a drink, warm or cold, this will always be appreciated especially during the winter/summer months.
    • Surveyors need time to take in the property, a measured wander round to gather bearings and thoughts helps them gain an understanding of the property, its layout and history. A bit of space is very useful to allow this to happen and allows us to jot down our site notes. Once we have done this, we will often have a chat with the homeowner about the property, and discuss our interpretation as well. Depending on how long the homeowner has been there, sometimes we find something that they were not aware of. 
  • If you know of any specific issues, let us know.
    • For example, one surveyor found a cellar full of frogs, the homeowner was clearly aware, but failed to mention to the surveyor – a surprise to say the least when opening the cellar door!!!
    • Foul drainage systems often have blockages and it has been known for owners to try and clear them out whilst we are there, bit of a messy job, especially when in a rush, so why not do it in advance if it is a known problem.

I hope that the above can be of some assistance to homeowners for when a surveyor is coming around. For further information or to discuss any projects, please contact your local McCartneys Planning and Surveying Department

Geraint Jones BSc(Hons) MRICS – Newtown and Welshpool Planning and Surveying Department

Tel: 01686 623123 / 01938 531000 or email

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