building valuations



Information on Surveyors


Our Independent Building Surveyors at can give you help and advice with regard to structural surveys, independent valuations, building surveys, engineers reports, property reports, structural reports, specific defects report, schedules of condition or any other property matters you may have. Our unique surveys are full of helpful photographs and sketches. The feedback we receive from our clients is that these sketches and photos help them understand the reports. Please call us on Free phone 0800 298 5424 for a free friendly chat with an independent surveyor.


Why have a Building Survey? Caveat Emptor!

Caveat emptor means buyer beware and is why you need to have a building survey to find out if there are any problems within the property you are planning to buy; the estate agent may not advise you of any problems. A survey allows you to purchase the property with your eyes wide open. Having your own independent advice from an Independent Surveyor can make the world of difference.

For a survey quote click here.


Victorian property has structural cracking to the rear

Increasingly we are coming across people who have not received the service they have expected from a surveyor. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) helps to protect consumers' interests and requires all surveyors to have a complaints procedure - if you are not happy we recommend that you use it.

The following article explains a bit more about surveying and why we feel we are different and offer one of the best services on the market.


Close up of the cracking to the rear of the property

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All surveys are not the same: valuations and surveys

There are several types of survey available but the main confusion arises between a valuation and a survey. These are quite different.  A valuation considers the value of the property, factors affecting its value and not much else; the lending companies usually use them.  People sometimes wrongly think of these as a survey. The exact definition of a valuation and the detail of what is included is in the RICS practice statements manual and covers several pages - we are happy to explain this in full if you phone 0800 295 5454.

Surveys can take many forms.  In our opinion it is better to phone us to discuss the type of survey that is best for you.  We will also discuss your concerns, consider your technical knowledge and write the report specifically for you. We are happy to meet you at the property if you so wish.


Sketch of a typical house

A bit more about valuations

Some lenders don't show you a copy of the valuation report that they have carried out and others do.  ‘Which’, the consumers association, advises that you should always get your own survey, and indeed most of the lending institutes warn on the valuation that you should get your own survey - still people don't.


Mountains out of molehills

Surveyors are often criticised for making mountains out of molehills and it is true in some cases, possibly in many cases, but how has this situation come about?.........

In our opinion large corporates put considerable pressure on surveyors to increase fee income.  This has led to an increase in the speed that surveys are carried out - even with the latest technology at its basic level, a survey involves a surveyor walking round a building and inspecting it.  This all takes time but the corporates wanted more income so some surveyors use caveats in a survey that don't really say anything or feel forced to mention the most minor item in a broad-brush approach.

In our opinion the big corporates only pay lip service to quality of reports and information provided. They are not that interested in quality, although they say they are - they are interested in the quantity of surveys carried out, in the fees earned and in not being sued. This has led the once prudent surveyor to become the very cautious surveyor - so mountains can be made out of molehills by the surveyor under pressure or the surveyor that has carried out so many surveys he can't remember a property he visited last week.

A building survey would pick up on things such as dampness in the roof space indicating a problem with the roof

Sky rockets

In recent years insurance premiums for surveys have sky-rocketed as the general public move into a suing culture, or is it that more mistakes are being made by surveyors? Either way, the insurance companies don't take risks, insurance premiums have increased and this increase has led to surveyors being more concerned about being sued and therefore being very cautious about giving advice. This has led in many instances to almost meaningless, wordy reports. Our solution to this is:

First, pick the right surveyor for the job and ensure they have suitable experience for the job in hand. Give the surveyors more time for the surveys and mix the survey work up with other types of work so the surveyor can think about what they have seen, in order that they can put the problems into perspective, not just list everything. Make sure they have a mixed bag of work so they don't go survey blind and miss things!


We have the benefit of being independent and don't have the same corporate pressures, therefore we can book the whole day to carry out the survey.


Here are some other surveying articles that we have written that may be of help to you.

Why use us?

Why you have never seen a structural survey or building survey like ours

Builders, building problems and roofs and how a Surveyor can help you

Roof structures - problems with wet rot and woodworm


Circles and ovals in our surveys

The circles and ovals are a system that we use within our structural surveys and building surveys to highlight and explain problem areas or characteristics within a property.


Victorian splayed bay window. Victorian bay windows typically have no foundations

Our Sketches

Our Building survey reports not only contain photos as stated above but also unique sketches that have been created especially for use in our reports. These sketches further explain any issues that the report and the photos highlight. Please see the example sketch that is shown here of a Victorian bay window.


Victorian bay window with no foundations

Stone throwing and greenhouses

Remember that often the people criticising the survey reports are the very people who have the most to gain from the sale - yes, the estate agents. The estate agents only make a commission if the sale happens, and don't forget they could also be getting a commission on the mortgage too. So is it a surprise that they criticise the survey? Usually one of the last things the estate agent wants to see is a good quality survey!


Surveyors, their own worst enemy

The surveyors have a lot to answer for too as they don't go out and sell their services in the same way as many other businesses.  At the other extreme of the market is the estate agent who many would say are all about marketing.


Let us distinguish between the chartered institutions and those which are not.  The main function of the RICS is to protect the consumer interest, not to protect its members’ interest. It does this by setting standards that members have to adhere to, but it is by no means perfect.  It is run by humans!  However, their primary aim is to protect the consumer, not its members. This is very different to many other non-chartered institutes/associations/clubs/trade unions etc.  For example, the National Association of Estate Agents is not chartered, it is the members’ club working for its members.

RICS membership - a combination of qualifications and experience

Anyone can call themselves a surveyor.  You often see the term above the estate agent windows.  A surveyor however has to go through many years of qualifications and experience, approximately seven years in total.  The length of time this takes tends to weed out any of those who are not serious about becoming a surveyor.


ISVA Independent Surveyors and Valuers Association
We mentioned earlier that the surveyor is the first person you meet on your side. This is not strictly true if they're not an independent surveyor and by independent we mean one that the surveyor is not owned by any lending institutions. Now let us be careful with our words here as we previously had a rather large lending institution try to sue us for saying this (a not-so-nice letter to receive) as they pointed out that lending institutions do not strictly own the surveying companies, but they are part of the same group of companies.

We would comment that the company lending the money has every right to insist it has its own surveyors to check that the value is correct, but it often presents information in a way that leads you to believe you have to use its surveyors for your own survey. This is simply not true. It often offers wonderful discounts as well, as it says it can do both at the same time.  To us this is a conflict of interests.  In our opinion you need independent advice not a discount.  It’s a free market - you can use who you want for your own survey.


But houses don't fall down

Yes we would agree, we very rarely come across a house that's about to fall over!  In fact at most it is only say one in 100 houses that has significant structural problems - but you don't want that to be the house you're purchasing.

This Victorian flat was not falling down but did require underpinning

The gable end wall was once an internal wall. It is now the external wall after the building next door was demolished


Underpinning Defined

This is where a foundation is put underneath the existing foundation due to movement in the property. In theory a property that is underpinned should be as good or if not better than a property that hasn't been underpinned.

The paragraph above is an example of a definition found within our reports.


Seven ages of man

We find different age groups have generally had different experiences with the property market and we often come across older clients who purchased for a few thousand pounds and the property is now worth many thousands of pounds. They advise us that property is the best investment they have ever made. We are pleased for them, but take a look at the property market since 1952 and you'll see that it goes up and down like any market. Ask someone who has had structural problems or negative equity or neighbours from hell and they'll have a completely different perspective on the housing market. 

Panel Surveys and old rope

You may come across the term panel surveyors, where the Independent Financial Advisor (IFA) or estate agent says that you can only use surveyors on its panel.  This is correct for mortgage valuations but this is not correct for your own survey. The only way for a poor old surveyor to get on their panels is to be owned by them or give up to 60 percent of the fee to them, but mostly it is impossible as lenders have done deals with other lenders’ surveyors to ensure they get reciprocal work.  This really is, in our opinion, money for old rope.


Independent Surveyors

If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a surveyor with regard to valuations, mortgages, mortgage companies, building surveys, engineers reports, specific defects report, structural surveys, home buyers reports or any other property matters please contact 0800 298 5424 for a surveyor to give you a call back.


Introducing our Good, Bad & Ugly surveys!

Our good, bad and ugly survey is a residential building survey, also sometimes known as a structural survey. After listening to the feedback from clients we have designed this survey and report to be easy to understand. The best thing about it is it has been written in plain English without too many technical terms.


Examples of our unique surveys

We would be glad to email you several examples of our tailor made reports. As you can see from this article we use lots of sketches and photos in our reports as the feedback we have from our clients is that the sketches and photos help them understand the problems. Within the report is also an Executive Summary that highlights the main issues with the property.


Have a look at our website at our other articles

Please have a good look around our website to see how much detail we go into regarding property and its associated problems in our articles. We go into this much depth and detail within our reports as well.  


Commercial Property

If you have a commercial property, whether it is freehold or leasehold then sooner or later you may get involved with dilapidation claims. You may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site


We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

The contents of the web site are for general information only and are not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision.

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House and Home Surveys and Useful Information

All you need to know about Building Surveys

Building Control, what do they do?

Designers and Architects will they save me money or will they cost me money

Enviroment, Your Building and Garden Gnomes

Estate Agents help sell houses and work for the vendors

Have a Structural Survey to protect you against structural problems

Home improvements, builder problems and ideas for you on how to solve them

How a Surveyor values a property, Chartered Surveyors and Regulated Valuers

How Chartered Engineers and Building Engineers can help you

Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas

NHBC National House Building Council

Structural Surveys and How We Can Help You

Traditional and Non-Traditional Houses and Mortgage Problems

Valuations and how much is the building worth?

Whats the difference between a Chartered Building Surveyor, Chartered Surveyor and an Independent Surveyor

Useful property problem articles by Chartered Surveyors explaining building issues to avoid

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Cracking and Movement Problems and Surveying Solutions

Flat Roof Problems, how we can solve them

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All you ever need to know about floors

Asbestos in your home, what you need to know

Ceiling Cracks and Structural Problems

Condensation, Damp and Black Mould Problems

Cracking and Movement Problems and Surveying Solutions

Windows and Doors and Fascias and Soffits and Wet Rot and Dry Rot and other problems

Woodworm is it a problem or not? Is it active or not?

Services - Building help and advice on costly services

Drainage, what's underground can affect what's above ground

Heating; I just can't get my house warm enough or alternatively I just can't get my house cool enough

You can't mess around with the electric, you need an expert


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Building Terms Explained and Directories

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Dilapidations Help and Advice What is a Dilapidations Notice?

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Dampness Rising Damp Mould Black Mould Condensation

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Dilapidations Claim by a Landlord

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Landlords Surveying Advice

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Property TV Reviews by an Independent Surveyor

Schedules of Condition Leasing a Commercial Property

Scotts Schedule and Section 18 Valuation

Tenants Surveying Advice

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Snow and Ice

Strong Winds

Reviews from clients on Commercial Building Surveys

Churches and Charities, helpful reviews from our clients

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Building Surveying Useful Information


Dilapidations Presentations in Detail

Final Year Building Surveying Exams for University Students or those that would like to know more

How old is your Building? Which era was it built in?

Party Walls

Surveyors and Design Tools

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Boundary Disputes

Building and Property Disputes

Party Wall Book Reviews

Party Walls Your Rights and Responsibilities

1stAssociated Surveyors Review for Structural Surveys and Building Surveys

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Both at work / busy couples, how we can help and some 1stAssociated client reviews

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Older buildings, a review of buying an older house

Families with children looking for a new home, feedback and reviews

Buying a Non-Traditional Property

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House and Home Surveys

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