Building surveyors: job role explained

Job role: building surveyor
Building surveying is the perfect career for those who are interested in both the property and construction industries. Find out more about how building surveyors work across the two industries and how you can become a building surveyor.

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Good choice if... Degree needed? Additional qualifications

Building surveyors provide technical advice relating to construction and property. They typically:

  • conduct building surveys (inspect properties on behalf of would-be buyers). They report on the building’s condition, for example if there is damp, and what any repairs would cost.
  • record dilapidations (changes) to a building’s condition since its last inspection. They then need to arrange repairs with the owner’s agreement.
  • oversee, design and decide what needs to be done on simpler construction projects that don’t require an architect – often small extensions or office refurbishments.
  • advise owners on ‘party walls’ (walls, floors or ceilings shared between two properties). They help owners alter or repair these and decide which owner pays for what.

Building surveyors usually work for property firms, housing developers or specialist surveying firms. They split their time between an office and their clients’ properties.

Would a building surveying career suit me?

It’s a good choice if…

  • You want to get out and about for most of the day, but know you can return to a dry, warm office.
  • You get bored doing the same thing all the time.
  • You like to take charge.
  • You are interested in the law and how it can be applied practically.

Do I need a degree to become a building surveyor?

Most building surveying vacancies are aimed at graduates. The quickest way to become a building surveyor is to study a building surveying undergraduate degree that has been approved by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and/or the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB). This takes three years full time. Some universities ask you to have a physics A level (or equivalent).

It is also possible to study any degree at undergraduate level and then complete a building surveying postgraduate ‘conversion course’. This course also needs to be approved by RICS and/or the CIOB and can last either nine months or a year full time, depending on the qualification obtained.

There are a few building surveying apprenticeships available and many of these apprenticeships are organised through the Chartered Surveyors’ Training Trust. If you are looking for an entry-level job instead, you could apply for a building surveying technician job with a higher national diploma (HND).

Do I need to gain an additional qualification while working?

Building surveyors tend to work towards a ‘professional qualification’ known as chartership when they enter the profession. This is an on-the-job qualification that tells the world that you are qualified to a high standard. It is awarded by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

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