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How to become a Building Surveyor

building surveyor careers

What does a Building Surveyor do?

Building surveyors supervise building projects from start to completion. This includes advice to clients on the design and construction of new buildings and the maintenance, repair, renovation and conservation of existing ones. Clients range from individual house owners to large commercial and industrial companies with property assets.

The work varies depending on the type of project but can cover the following:

  • performing pre-acquisition surveys to identify the suitability of property for a particular use prior to purchase, or to assess the feasibility of a potential construction project
  • carrying out structural surveys to identify defects, to act as a basis for advice on repairs and dilapidation liability (who is responsible for repair costs), and for putting together maintenance strategies for the upkeep of property holdings
  • compiling information for preparation of tenders and contract negotiations
  • researching and advising on legal issues such as repair or alteration to party walls (adjoining walls) and property boundary disputes, and acting as a client’s advocate or standing as an expert witness during formal proceedings
  • undertaking damage assessments for insurance and loss adjustment purposes, for example, as a result of adverse weather conditions, fire or land subsidence
  • inspecting properties to ensure compliance with building regulations, fire safety, energy efficiency and accessibility requirements
  • dealing with planning applications and improvement grants
  • supervising the survey team, including assistants and technicians
  • training and mentoring new staff.

Building surveyors work closely with architects, planners, tenants and other professionals. They are employed by a wide range of organisations in the public and private sector. Employers include local authorities, construction and engineering firms, commercial companies with investment property, building conservation bodies and specialist surveying practices.

What's the working environment like working as a Building Surveyor?

Building surveyors normally work, Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm. The job combines office and site work, and it is sometimes necessary to spend periods of time away from home. A driving licence will usually be necessary.

Sites are subject to all weather conditions and protective clothing is normally required. Depending on the project, surveyors may be working in cramped, dusty and damp conditions. Work at heights and on dangerous structures may also be required.

What does it take to become a Building Surveyor?

To be a building surveyor you should:

  • have sound analytical skills and an innovative approach to problem solving
  • be competent with surveying technology, IT and CAD programs
  • be able to work to a high degree of accuracy
  • be able to interpret data and understand architectural plans
  • have a comprehensive knowledge of building regulations, planning legislation, and health and safety issues
  • have strong communication, negotiation and presentation skills
  • be able to prioritise and plan effectively
  • be able to understand a client’s business needs
  • be committed to ongoing continuing professional development
  • be able to work as part of a team and take responsibility for decision making.

Language skills will be useful for surveyors wishing to work overseas or for a company with international clients.

Building Surveyor Career Opportunities

Opportunities exist in local and central government, private and non-profit making property companies, banks, mortgage, insurance companies and educational establishments. Career progression includes movement into project or senior management positions, partnership in private practice, self-employment as a consultant or working in related fields, such as building control surveying. See profile for Building Control Officer / Inspector

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Building Surveyor that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
Surveyor Court
Westwood Way
Tel: 0870 333 1600

Chartered Institute of Building
Kings Ride
Tel: 01344 630700

Association of Building Engineers
Lutyens House
Billing Brook Road
Weston Favell
Tel: 0845 126 1058

College of Estate Management
Tel: 0118 986 1101

Awarding Body for the Built Environment (ABBE)