How long does it take to train as a residential surveyor?.

Original Article
May 1st, 2024


Image shows expert trainer supporting a surveying learner.

Are you looking for a career change? If you have a passion for property and penchant for problem solving, have you considered putting your detective skills to work as a residential building surveyor? The training route you choose will determine how long it takes to become a practising surveyor, with some routes enabling qualification in as little as 24 months.

Residential building surveyors are specially trained to assess and report on the condition of residential properties, identifying risks and defects such as dampness and structural movement for homebuyers, homeowners and housing providers. They do this by carrying out a non-intrusive inspection of the property coupled with detailed desktop research about the property and its surrounding area.

There are many career pathways a residential building surveyor can choose, including:

  • Joining an established surveying firm or housing organisation
  • Practising as an independent surveyor
  • Specialist surveying roles in areas such as:
    • Party wall surveying
    • Low carbon retrofit
    • Listed buildings.

In addition, many residential building surveyors carry out expert property valuations for secured lending in accordance with the RICS Red Book, the global standard set out by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Educational Requirements

To become a residential building surveyor, you need a relevant qualification such as a RICS-accredited degree or a vocational qualification.

RICS-accredited degrees offer a broad understanding of surveying before allowing you to specialise in residential property. There are several different RICS-accredited degrees offered by universities across the UK, each with their own entry requirements.

In contrast, there is currently only one vocational route into the surveying profession: the part-time Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation. This surveyor training programme is delivered by housing experts, Sava, and is designed specifically to provide those without a relevant degree a way into the profession. The Sava diploma has no formal entry requirements.

Certification Exams

With a RICS-accredited degree, you can expect to be assessed through exams, written assignments and group work. After completing your degree, you’ll gain employment and work towards your Assessment of Professional Competence, also known as your APC, before being granted RICS membership.

With Sava’s vocational diploma programme, you’ll spend the second half of the programme providing a portfolio of evidence for assessment, including condition reports, property valuations and reflective accounts. At the end of your assessment phase, you’ll undertake two exams, one covering valuation and another on residential surveying.

Several factors can influence how long it takes to become a residential surveyor.

Prior Experience in Related Fields

When choosing the university route, typically you will start with an undergraduate degree. However, if you already hold an undergraduate degree or other relevant qualifications or experience, you can instead study for a master’s in surveying which could significantly decrease the amount of time it takes to get qualified.

The vocational Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation is designed to enable career shifters to pursue a role in a new field and teaches everything needed to become a surveyor from the ground up. However, whilst prior experience is not necessary to undertake the course, a background in property or construction would be an advantage and could increase the pace at which you progress through the course – particularly during the assessment phase.

Full-Time Vs. Part-Time Training

Those pursuing the full or part time university route can expect to spend three-to-five years studying before practising as a residential building surveyor. This is due to the broader nature of a degree. Those pursuing the vocational route into surveying can complete their training in 24 months, part time, largely due to it being a more streamlined programme focused specifically on the residential sector.


University degrees offer a structured learning experience, often with fixed deadlines which is perfect for those who need a more regimented training style to keep them on track. The Sava diploma has set training days to attend (either virtually or face to face) during the first half of the programme. The second half – the assessment phase – is largely self-directed and requires motivation and self-discipline to complete the assessment portfolio in a timely manner. This means that whilst the course takes an average of 24 months to complete, the actual time to qualify depends on your commitment. 

Upon completing your training and achieving your surveying qualification(s), there are multiple career pathways to choose from depending on what you want from your career.

Job Prospects and Growth Potential

Residential building surveyors can work in a variety of ways and find opportunities in various areas of the housing sector. As a surveyor, you can choose to work alone or for an established firm, or even offer your services to housing providers – in house or on a consultancy basis – to help them assess and maintain their housing stock.

As a surveyor, you could be providing:

  • Condition surveys for homebuyers looking to purchase a property
  • Condition surveys for homeowners looking to identify an issue or make home improvements
  • Expert valuations for mortgage lenders and other clients
  • Specialist surveys such as party wall surveys focused on areas such as low carbon retrofit or listed buildings.

After gaining experience and confidence in conducting condition surveys and valuations for standard house types, residential surveyors can expand their horizons to tackle more complex properties and begin specialising, offering a wealth of job possibilities.

Salary Expectations

According to a survey of those who have qualified as surveyors through the vocational Sava Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation, Sava graduates earn an average basic salary of £61,000 per year after three years, with some independent surveyors reporting six-figure earnings. Those working for a surveying firm might also benefit from commission, bonuses and other perks such as a company car on top of their basic salary.

A career in residential surveying is both interesting and rewarding, and how you choose to get there will determine how long it will be before you can practise.

The university route into surveying provides a broader, theory-based journey into surveying where you will learn about surveying in all its forms before choosing your specialist pathway such as residential surveying. Typically, the university route takes two-to-five years depending on your experience and there will be certain entry requirements to enrol. At the end of your degree, should you wish to join the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, you will find an employer and complete your APC before becoming a member (MRICS) and being able to offer RICS products such as RICS Home Surveys.

Sava’s vocational route into surveying provides individuals without a relevant degree, or those for whom university is not an option, with a more streamlined way into the profession. This route is focused on residential property and teaches everything you need to know about residential construction, building pathology, valuation and surveying skills from the ground up, no prior experience required. The qualification takes an average of 24 months to complete and, once qualified, Sava graduates can gain direct entry into the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors at Associate level (AssocRICS), without having to complete their APC. Surveyors with the designation AssocRICS after their name can provide all the same services and RICS products as surveyors with the MRICS designation after their name.

Talk to Sava today at or on 01908 442158 to find out more about routes into the residential surveying profession and what you can expect once qualified.