Building surveyors advise clients about the design and construction of new buildings.
Building surveyors advise clients about the design and construction of new buildings. They also advise on the maintenance and repair of existing buildings. Clients can range from home owners to large commercial and industrial companies. If you are interested in buildings and like the idea of a varied job where expert advice is key, this could be perfect for you.
To be a building surveyor, you should have good problem-solving skills. You will need strong communication and presentation skills. You will also need to be able to understand your client’s business needs.
To qualify as a building surveyor, you will need to complete a degree course accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
As a surveyor, you would usually focus on three main areas – surveying, legal work, and planning and inspection. Your work could include:
- surveying properties, identifying structural faults and making recommendations for repairs
- assessing damage for insurance purposes, for example following a fire or flooding
- establishing who is responsible for building repair costs
- advising clients on issues such as property boundary disputes
- acting as a client’s supporter or standing as an expert witness during legal proceedings
- checking properties to make sure that they meet building regulations, and fire safety and accessibility standards
- dealing with planning applications and with improvement or conservation grants.
Depending on the size of the company, you may cover all of these tasks or you might specialise in just one.
Other duties would include supervising a surveying team made up of assistants and technicians.
Normal working hours would be between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Your time would be split between office and site work. Some contracts may involve spending periods of time away from home.
Site work would take place in all weather conditions, and you may have to work at heights and on dangerous structures.
Newly-qualified graduates earn between £18,000 and £22,000 a year.
Experienced surveyors earn between £23,000 and £38,000 a year, and senior staff with chartered status can earn over £50,000 a year.
To qualify as a building surveyor, you will need to complete a degree course accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), followed by a period of professional development training. Accredited RICS courses are available in subjects such as:
- civil engineering
- building engineering.
If you have a non-RICS accredited degree, you will need to take a postgraduate course in surveying. You can do this through a company's graduate training scheme, or by studying full-time at a RICS-accredited university. If you are working in engineering or construction, you could take a distance learning postgraduate conversion course with the College of Estate Management (CEM). For more details, see the CEM website.
If you have an HNC/HND or a foundation degree in surveying or construction, you may be able to start working as a surveying technician and take further qualifications to become a building surveyor. Please see the profile for technical surveyor in the Related careers section.
For more information about surveying careers, accredited degree programmes and membership routes, contact the RICS and The Chartered Institute of Building's (CIOB) Faculty for Architecture and Surveying.
You are likely to need a driving licence in this job so that you can visit sites and clients.
Training and development
You would be expected to continue your professional development by working towards chartered status. You can achieve this through the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or The Chartered Institute of Building's (CIOB) Faculty for Architecture and Surveying.
With a RICS-accredited qualification, you can complete the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC). This involves a period of supervised practical training to build up your professional knowledge and skills. It can take between two and six years of postgraduate experience to pass the APC, which leads to chartered status.
The CIOB has a variety of routes to chartered membership depending on your qualifications and experience. You would work through a Professional Development Programme (normally takes two to three years) followed by a Professional Review.
Contact the RICS and The CIOB for more information.
Skills, interests and qualities
To be a building surveyor, you should have:
- good problem-solving skills
- excellent STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)
- the ability to work to a high degree of accuracy
- the ability to interpret data
- strong communication, negotiation and presentation skills
- the ability to prioritise and plan effectively
- an understanding of the client’s business needs
- a commitment to continuing professional development
- the ability to work as part of a team
- a comprehensive knowledge of building regulations
- an understanding of planning legislation, and health and safety.
Language skills may be useful if you want to work overseas or for a company with international clients.
You can find employment with local authorities, construction and engineering firms, building conservation bodies and specialist surveying practices.
Your progression options include project or senior management, partnership in private practice, self-employment as a consultant, or working in related fields, for example building control.