Before our surveyors visit the site, they will complete desktop research into the property, reviewing publicly available information as well as documentation provided by the client.
They will consider its size, type of construction, accessibility of roofs, likely level of servicing, and so on.
If it is available, our surveyor will want to review key documentation like operation and maintenance manuals, as-built drawings, and any leases or tenancy schedules which affect the building.
In an ideal world, our surveyor will be provided with a full suite of information before they conduct the physical survey of the site, but we appreciate that this cannot always happen.
The site inspection
Our surveyor will inspect each individual accessible building element – everything from the main structural and weathering components, such as the steel or concrete frame, roof, walls and floors, to more minor fittings and fixings such as doors, sanitary provision and kitchen installations.
They will assess the type and condition of services, such as the electrical installation, plumbing, drainage and fire safety components. They will also consider less-common items such as lifts and sprinklers although, unless specialist engineers are involved, these will only be covered by a high-level narrative in the report.
Our surveyor will collate and combine the findings from their desktop research and their on-site inspection into a clear and comprehensive report. If key information is outstanding when the survey is completed, they will work with the client to get hold of the necessary information so that it can be added into the report. If this information remains outstanding soon after the property is inspected, the report will highlight these key areas for review at a later date.
What to consider when choosing a building surveyor
Of course the comparative quotes you gather are a key part of your decision making. Make sure you are comparing like for like quotes, for example, at Harrison Clarke we include cost estimates for remedial work as standard, whereas other surveyors often charge an additional fee to provide these cost estimates.
Harrison Clarke is also happy to absorb follow-up consultations into our original survey fee.
Timescales and service levels
There are other factors to consider aside from the financial aspect; time usually being critical in the purchase or leasing process.
Harrison Clarke will normally aim to inspect properties within a working week of instruction, providing your report within a week or so after that.
If the project is really urgent, we will do our best to work even quicker.
As clear and straightforward as our surveyors make the reports, we are aware that these documents can be complicated and you may have further questions about the building or want to discuss details in the survey in more depth. Our surveyors will always be on hand to talk things through with you, until you are satisfied that you have all the information you need to make your important purchase or leasing decision with peace of mind.
Make sure that any surveyor you are considering using is clear about their timescales and service levels.
Check that, like Harrison Clarke, any surveyor you are considering has appropriate Professional Indemnity Insurance to cover the recommendations they make, just in case anything goes wrong.
Qualifications and experience
Technically, this is an unregulated area so a Commercial Building Surveyor does not have to be specially qualified, but why would you risk such an important part of the decision-making process that has huge financial implications, on someone not qualified or experienced?!
Ideally, a RICS Chartered Surveyor should prepare your commercial survey, as RICS Regulations prevent surveyors from completing work which is outside of their area of expertise. Chartered Surveyors, by their very profession, must adhere to these regulations.
The majority of Chartered Building Surveyors are also degree qualified, which generally means that they approach buildings with an analytical mind, and present information in an articulate and understandable format.
The best way to assess a surveyor’s experience is to ask them. Harrison Clarke’s surveying team has worked on an extensive range of different building types and construction styles, including retail, industrial, commercial, education, residential and leisure.
At time of writing, Harrison Clarke’s Chartered Building Surveyors each have at least 14 years’ experience behind them.
We would not recommend that you use your builder to complete your Commercial Building Survey. Firstly, they have not been trained in building pathology; how a building can fail, and why, and they are unlikely to fully understand historical construction methods.
Secondly, builders have not been trained to analyse defects in detail and to communicate this analysis to a third party. We are often asked to pick up the pieces where a builder has suggested or completed inappropriate repairs and they have not considered the knock-on implications of such work.
Thirdly, it is rare for a builder to carry appropriate Professional Indemnity Insurance.
Reputation and testimonials
Online Trustpilot feedback and Google reviews are a robust and reassuring way to check out the service levels of any Chartered Surveyor that you are considering using. Alternatively, your solicitor might be able to recommend a reputable firm of Chartered Surveyors that they trust.
At the time of writing, Harrison Clarke is very proud to be able to say that all our online customer reviews give glowing 5-star feedback, which we are really proud of.
If you need to commission a Commercial Building Survey, please contact our team of friendly and highly competent surveyors, who will be happy to talk through your requirements and answer any questions you may have.
Call 023 8155 0051