What is a Residential Surveyor?.

Original Article
January 9th, 2020


Woman looking at mews houses

If you are looking for a new career, have you considered retraining to become a residential surveyor?

Working as a residential surveyor and valuer is the perfect way forward for those with an interest in property. This professional and well-respected career commands excellent salary prospects and demand for surveying services is ever increasing.

What is a Residential Surveyor?

There are many aspects to the career and many options once qualified, but residential surveyors are mainly known for carrying out condition surveys  and valuations on properties prior to sale. It is a varied and flexible career with many opportunities either working for yourself or for a firm.

Alan Milstein, a residential surveyor and chairman of the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA), said:

“Being a residential surveyor is a rewarding career. In essence, residential surveyors assess properties for their general condition, energy efficiency and value…they help home buyers understand the condition of the property they want to purchase.

“Residential surveying is an integral part of the housing market and offers good prospects, with potential for qualified surveyors to work within companies such as estate agents and banks, or to set up on their own and offer surveying services on a consultancy basis to businesses and home buyers alike.”

Retraining to become a residential surveyor could be the career for you if:

  • You find property interesting
  • You want great career prospects
  • You want a role that’s in high demand
  • You want to be well paid – the average AssocRICS salary is £49,293 (source: RICS 2018 UK rewards and attitude survey)
  • You want flexible employment opportunities, including self-employment
  • You want a well-respected career path
  • You like challenges and for each day to be different
  • You don’t want to be sat at a desk all day

How can I become a Residential Surveyor?

Sava offers the only vocational qualification with direct entry into the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS): the Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation. The course is structured to allow learners to continue to work full time whilst studying if they wish as the course is delivered with 12 months of part-time training, involving 2 training days a month. This is followed by 12 months of assessment which is carried out in your own time. The course teaches you everything you need to know to become a competent surveyor and no prior knowledge, experience or qualifications are needed.

Once qualified, Sava graduates are eligible for direct entry into RICS at Associate member level, meaning they can offer RICS products such as RICS Home Surveys (Level 1 – Level 3) and valuations, as well as having the prestigious AssocRICS designation after their name.

Hilary Grayson, Director of Surveying Services at Sava, says:

“Residential surveying is particularly suited to those who are passionate about housing, confident in dealing with other people, determined and self-motivated, and have a good eye for detail.

“We believe these people could help to alleviate the looming skills shortage in surveying, and could become new associate members of RICS, an accreditation that is so important both professionally and to the industry as a sign of quality.”

What will I study?

The diploma is a vocational qualification, meaning it is all about giving you the skills and knowledge to be a well-rounded residential surveyor. Some of the modules covered include:

  • Valuation – Determining property value, RICS mandatory requirements, how condition affects value, regulatory and legal requirements and different types of valuations.
  • Construction – This module focuses on foundations, floors and walls, desktop research, scale drawings, floor plans and calculating U-values as well as building services.
  • Law – The law and its background, easements, restrictive covenants, contract law, negligence and occupier’s liability are looked at in this module.
  • Inspecting Property – The inspection ‘agenda’ and equipment, property measurements to include floor, volume and ceiling as well as the residential cost-rebuilding calculator.
  • Building Pathology – This module focuses on the process of diagnosing the cause of building movement, damp and defects. It includes ground and above ground-based movement plus loads more.
  • Assessing Services – This module looks at service systems and what can go wrong. It covers inspection and testing of service systems, electrical systems, heating services, plumbing and drainage.

What do Sava graduates say?

Ben Browne retrained to become a surveyor in 2018. He now works at a medium-sized firm in Croydon. When asked what a typical day as a practising surveyor involves and what he enjoys about his job, Ben said:

“A typical day as a surveyor for me at the moment; I wake up at home, check my diary, check the property that I’m going to, get in the car and arrive at the property. Depending on the survey type I will spend about 2 to 4 hours inspecting the property, with a little coffee break to meet the vendor. After I have completed the survey I will head back to the office. Once I’m back to the office I will upload the photos and start compiling the report. During this time, I have all the other surveyors sitting around me and we discuss what we have seen that day and see if we can help each other out in any areas and help compile the reports.

My favourite part of the job is meeting people, whether it is fellow surveyors, meeting estate agents in offices, or going to properties and meeting vendors. You meet some amazing people, with good stories, you make some good connections. It’s something I am certainly enjoying. I have never enjoyed the working week more. Every day is a new challenge to me. The week flies by. It is the only job where I wish I had more hours in the day. Every day you are at a new property with a new set of challenges and a new issue to deal with. If this is something you enjoy then this is certainly the career for you.”

You can hear more from Ben and other Sava graduates on the Sava YouTube channel.

The great thing about residential surveying is the flexibility the career offers; you can set up a self-employed business and be your own boss, work for a large firm where you are home based, or work for a smaller firm if you like an office environment.

Stephen Anscombe was working as delivery driver when he decided to look for a new career.

“I was thinking of embarking on a new career to bring more fulfilment and satisfaction, but ultimately was not sure what path to go down. Over the following weeks, I did many hours of research into the industry and felt a career in Residential Surveying would be right for me. Nearly 3 years on from that decision and I haven’t looked back!

Many of the other candidates like myself on the course were currently in employment. For me, going to university for 3-5 years was not an option that I felt comfortable with. With Sava you obtain a degree equivalent qualification and have the option of becoming an RICS member in little over two years. It really is a no brainer. The lecturers and the staff are incredibly knowledgeable in their respective area of expertise, are friendly and approachable.”

How do I find out more?

Sava runs regular events where you can come along to find out more about what being a residential surveyor involves, meet the team and hear about how the qualification works. Book your free place on a surveying webinar or open day, or head to our dedicated surveyor training page.