If you’re planning on buying a property in the United Kingdom, you’ll run across mention of ‘RICS’ sooner rather than later. As one of the UK’s top typing services specialising in property, Property Typing is uniquely placed in that we work closely with the men and women who form the body of RICS-qualified surveyors, and we know the industry inside and out. That’s why, today, we are walking you through everything you need to know about RICS and RICS building surveys as a home buyer.

To survey or not to survey?

Faced with the intimidating costs involved in purchasing property, you probably look at getting the property surveyed as one of those niggly, unnecessary expenses you’d rather do without. We understand the pain- but it’s one of the most foolish things you could possibly do. The whole purpose of any building survey is to protect you, the buyer, from making costly mistakes (or paying a heavy toll for the costly mistakes of others) while the property seller disappears into the sunset with your hard-earned cash in hand. RICS building surveys give you the peace of mind of knowing you’re making a great investment, as well as the foresight you need to plan any changes, additions or repairs that would be involved in your purchase long before disaster strikes.

So who are RICS, anyway?

RICS is the acronym for the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. They are the best known UK based professional body responsible for the standards and regulations surveyors use. They offer all professional surveyors accreditation through their body. This assures you that the surveyor you are hiring is using only the highest standards, and conforming to carefully-supervised regulations at every step of the process. They are still headquartered in London, although RICS-affiliated surveyors operate throughout the UK, and have been in existence since 1868.

You probably know the concept of ‘chartering’ better from the accounting arena. Chartered surveyors, like their accounting cousins, represent the cream of the surveying profession and are fully qualified to handle any and all forms of the RICS building surveys- no matter how simple or complex your surveying needs. By providing critical oversight and regulation, RICS helps ensure that standards remain high and that all their registered surveyors speak the same ‘language’ and use the same reporting formats across all aspects of their profession. This, in turn, makes it easier for buyers to understand and use these surveys.

Along with the RICS building surveys, RICS also provides assistance in matters of construction, dispute resolution, valuation, and other matters pertaining to real estate and land. They also require ‘CPD’ hours, or ongoing refreshing and training, from those who hold their accreditation in order to maintain high industry standards through continued education. This ensures surveyors remain up-to-date on current building regulations and requirements, which change and evolve as the construction industry itself does.

Do I have to use a RICS Building Survey for my property?

There are, of course, highly experienced surveyors who choose not to take RICS accreditation for a variety of reasons. You can identify these individuals fairly easily- they will not display the RICS logo, nor will they use the standard RICS building survey terminology (like the well-known RICS HomeBuyer Report).

A lack of RICS accreditation does not, of course, mean that the individual is unskilled or ‘worse’ than their accredited fellows- simply that they are operating without the additional oversight of the professional body. For peace of mind, however, it is typically better to stick with RICS accreditation, as that comes with the promise of conformity, continuing education and expertise, as well as the comfort of knowing the surveyor holds valid certifications in their profession. Particularly for inexperienced purchasers, this adds an extra layer of security and ease-of-use to the process.

What are the RICS Building Surveys?

The standard RICS building surveys offer three different ‘depths’ of survey, which you are free to choose between to match your needs at the time of purchase. These are as follows:

  • The RICS Condition Report: this survey type offers only the most basic of inspections of the property, and is thus also the cheapest option. While the lower price is tempting, of course, this is only really intended for newer properties built with standard materials which you have firm reason to believe are in the best of condition, just to give an added layer of reassurance.
  • The RICS HomeBuyer Report: The most popular of the RICS building surveys, this looks a little more in-depth at the property, giving valuable feedback on issues such as damp, subsidence and structural conditions. This useful survey is great for most low-risk property types.
  • The RICS Building Survey: This fully-comprehensive survey goes into deep detail on the state of the property. For older structures, or those with unusual construction methods, this provides the utmost peace of mind and ensures you know exactly what you are purchasing.
  • Custom Requests: While not a standard RICS building survey type, it’s not unusual to need a tailored report to address specific concerns, which you can design with the surveyor you are using.

As you can see, the long and short of it is that RICS provide industry oversight in the surveying arena, ensuring continued education, dispute resolution for any issues you may have with your surveyor, and enforcing high standards across the field. While it isn’t strictly necessary for a skilled surveyor to be accredited with RICS, the body exists to help you, the consumer, keep total peace of mind throughout the survey process, ensuring you receive the best experience possible.

We at Property Typing are proud to form a critical part of the surveying process for buyers like yourself through our work with your surveyors. By providing them with high-quality, error-free tailored typing services, we ensure that the reports which reach you are succinct, easily-accessible and meaningful, helping you another step along the road to worry-free property ownership.