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What is a Chartered Surveyor?

Zenyx Griffiths

Written by Reviewed by Mike Ashton

5th Mar 2019 (Last updated on 8th Dec 2021) 7 minute read

A Chartered Surveyor is a property specialist who values and assesses properties to determine if there are any defects or structural problems that could cause any future issues. They will provide you with a report of the property so that you can determine if it would be a good investment. All UK chartered surveyors must be regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

You shouldn't underestimate the importance of hiring a surveyor. It might seem like an extra cost that you don't need, but using a chartered surveyor can be crucial. Before committing to buying the house, you'll find out if the property has any hidden defects or damages.

Compare My Move has created this useful guide to answer your surveyor related questions. From what chartered surveyors do to how they can benefit you, we will help you make this as easy a process as possible.

This article will cover the following:
  1. So What is a Chartered Surveyor?
  2. What does a Chartered Surveyor do?
  3. When do I Need a Chartered Surveyor?
  4. What's the Difference Between a Chartered Surveyor and a Surveyor?
  5. How do you Know a Surveyor is Chartered?
  6. What is RICS?
  7. What does a Chartered Surveyor Look for?
  8. Why Should you Choose a Chartered Surveyor?
  9. How to Choose a Chartered Surveyor
  10. What are the Benefits of a Survey?
  11. Learn More About Surveying

So What is a Chartered Surveyor?

The first question to ask is, what exactly is a chartered surveyor? Simply, a chartered surveyor is a highly-trained property professional who can provide you with specialist advice on property-related issues.

By carrying out a property survey, a surveyor will assess the property you plan to buy to determine if there are any problems or defects that may result in future issues. If you catch these issues early, you can reduce the number of future costs and establish if it would be a good investment or if it would only bring more trouble than it’s worth.

There is a range of different chartered surveyors but the majority belong to the same professional body, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which ensures they are fully qualified and experienced for the role.

What does a Chartered Surveyor do?

Once you’ve found a reliable chartered surveyor, it’s time to conduct the actual survey. To establish findings and produce the report, the surveyor will visit the property and walk around to assess the different areas.

The depth of the investigation depends on the type of survey asked for by the client. Any problems identified will be noted and produced to you in a report where you can read through, work out any potential costs and decide whether or not to continue with the purchase.

Don't be afraid to ask your surveyor questions, they will have an in-depth knowledge on common property survey issues.

To learn more, read What Does a Surveyor Do.

When do I Need a Chartered Surveyor?

You will want to contact a chartered surveyor when you have found the property you wish to purchase and would like a valuation. You can request a survey when you have made an offer to the homeowner.

However, once contracts are signed and exchanged you are the legal owner of the property and cannot back out of the process. You will want to conduct a survey before this step, making it possible for you to renegotiate your house price or even back out completely if you aren't happy with the results.

Depending on the report’s results, you may want to consider renegotiating the price of the property with the seller. If certain issues will require you to spend £5,000 for example, you may want to ask about lowering the price by that much.

What's the Difference Between a Chartered Surveyor and a Surveyor?

A chartered surveyor can provide you with detailed, specialist advice on property-related issues whilst also having the ability to complete a RICS chartered survey. There are a variety of subjects a chartered surveyor may specialise in, from advising on construction projects to domestic or commercial properties.

The two most common property surveys required by those looking to move house is the homebuyers survey and the building survey. Regardless of knowledge or experience, it’s possible for anyone to call themselves a ‘surveyor’ making the title less protected. If someone is calling themselves a ‘surveyor’ they haven’t necessarily got the vital training or qualifications that would give you reassurance.

The most basic survey is a condition report, which is best suited for modern flats and bungalows.

How do you Know a Surveyor is Chartered?

You can identify a chartered surveyor as they will use the letters MRICS or FRICS at the end of their name, meaning that they’re a member or fellow of RICS. Chartered surveyor firms must declare that they are regulated by RICS on their marketing materials and platforms.

A chartered surveyor regulated by RICS has been through rigorous training to ensure that they are professional and trustworthy throughout every job. There are a number of qualifications that must be passed for you to become a member and you must sign up to the RICS Code of Professional Ethics to guarantee that all work is completed with integrity and to the highest of standards.

What is RICS?

RICS is the abbreviation of the official governing body for property professionals, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. They provide professional training, support and guidance as well as monitoring standards globally. Using a RICS member guarantees a high-quality survey conducted by a trustworthy and educated surveyor with years of vital experience.

By using a qualified RICS surveyor, you can rest assured that the results will be reliable and accurate. All members must continually follow the ‘RICS Rules of Conduct’ meaning that you’re fully covered with indemnity insurance for further peace of mind. For a high-quality survey, it would be wise to hire a RICS chartered surveyor.

What does a Chartered Surveyor Look for?

There are a variety of house survey issues that an experienced surveyor will look for. The depth of the assessment is determined by the type of survey requested by the customer. There are a number of survey types, some requiring more in-depth investigations than others. Some common concerns they’ll often look for are roof issues, signs of asbestos, evidence of damp and any visible structural movement.

Other concerns noted could be plants that damage your property, such as Japanese knotweed, a formidable plant that can cause serious invasive problems, or another is the risk of woodworm. The presence of woodworm could mean any wooden furniture or structures could be at risk of weakening or breaking. All these issues are not always easily detected and so hiring a surveyor could save you from some frightening future costs that you would never have expected.

Why Should you Choose a Chartered Surveyor?

The most obvious benefit of hiring a chartered surveyor over a surveyor is professionalism. RICS chartered surveyors are guaranteed to have gone through diligent training and have the necessary qualifications to ensure that their advice is well educated and trustworthy. Using a RICS regulated chartered surveyor or firm can give you peace of mind and expert advice. They regularly update their skills and knowledge to provide you with the highest quality of services.

There is security in the fact that you will be protected by a complaints-handling procedure that surveyors who aren’t RICS members won’t have. If for any reason you are unhappy with the service provided, you can contact the RICS Professional Conduct Team who will look into the member further and ensure that they’re upholding the rules of conduct. As well as this, the member will have Professional Indemnity Insurance as further security.

How to Choose a Chartered Surveyor

The first step to finding a surveyor would be to ensure that they are a RICS Chartered Surveyor, meaning that they must follow the organisation’s guidelines and have the necessary experience and qualifications. This is an immediate testimony to their knowledge of the industry. Look into their experience and the reviews from previous customers. Location, efficiency and price are all important factors when searching for the right surveyor.

To make this step easier and to save you time, Compare My Move can help by providing you with up to 5 trusted chartered surveyors, all of which are RICS certified. We only work with the best surveyors who are all experienced and highly-qualified so that your survey will be conducted efficiently and accurately.

What are the Benefits of a Survey?

One of the main benefits of hiring a surveyor is receiving their professional opinion. They are highly-trained and highly-qualified so that they may offer expert advice on the property. They can provide you with information that you are unlikely able to obtain yourself to provide you with a more detailed report. Using their experience, they can provide you with an accurate report depicting any concerns or future issues allowing you to make a well-informed decision concerning the property.

The results of the report can then aid your decisions on purchasing the property. If you believe that the property is a good investment, you can continue with ease. However, if after the report certain faults are concerning you, you can make the decision to pull out of the purchase or ask to renegotiate prices. This will save you from any future costs that may occur that you wouldn’t have expected before the survey was completed.

Learn More About Surveying

This article is part of our guide to surveying. In the next part of the series, we take a look at what exactly a surveyor does and looks for during the survey. To learn more, read what does a surveyor do and look for.

Zenyx Griffiths

Before Compare My Move, Zenyx once wrote lifestyle and entertainment articles for the online magazine, Society19 as well as news articles for Ffotogallery.

Mike Ashton

Reviewed by Mike Ashton

Director, Cambridge Building Surveyors

With over 20 years of experience in the property surveying industry, Mike Ashton is now the director at Cambridge Building Surveyors.