This is not an exhaustive or a complete subject.  It is likely to change over time, with edits, additions and deletions, and is simply a collection of my thoughts based on many years of experience.   You should follow your instincts, and you must always seek your own professional advice.


It is an all too common mistake made by both owners and buyers that they don’t use the most appropriate surveyor for the building they are interested in.   The result is a disappointing survey report, leaving the client with frustration.  In this situation, the surveyor is also probably responsible for having not turned down the work right at the start.   Surveyors are supposed to decline work that they do not have the necessary skills, expertise and experience for.

For a home purchase, there are rules that the surveyor MUST follow.  The document is called the RICS Home Survey Standard 2019 and you can read about and download a copy at the following link on the RICS website.  These rules are mandatory for all surveys done after 1st March 2021.

RICS Home Survey Standard 2019

Here are some tips to help you choose the right surveyor if you are buying an older, traditional or Listed Building.

How will it cost me?

You will need a proper, thorough building survey and report.  These used to be known as ‘structural surveys’ back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, then ‘building surveys’ and more recently the name has changed to Level 3 reports.   These surveys and reports take a long time for the inspection and report writing as well as spending time with the client to find out what is really needed.  Consequently, you should expect to pay more money.

If someone offers you a fee quote that just doesn’t seem ‘right’ then it probably isn’t.   It is a true fact of life that you get what you pay for.    Contact a few surveyors and get some quotes before you make your choice.   Don’t base that choice solely on who is cheapest and then make the mistake of assuming that they are all the same.   Don’t think that you have found a bargain – it is highly unlikely, and is more likely that quite simply you are not talking to the right person.

Report Style

You should specifically ask for a survey and report that complies with the RICS Home Survey Standard 2019, which you can download in the link above.

You should specifically ask for a BESPOKE report that complies with Level 3.   You can read what that means in the document.  You need to specifically say that you DO NOT want a RICS templated Level 3 report which uses the ‘traffic lights’ and Condition Ratings.   I would draw your attention to Appendix A3 on Page 23 of the Home Survey Standard.   This is very important.   You want a thorough report and not one that sends you off in many directions for ‘further investigations’.  A report that is focussed on Condition Ratings is not going to be able to give you that extra level of detail and help for defects that have not yet had time to develop.  For example, an old brick wall may have been recently repointed using a cement mortar – which is almost certainly going to be wrong and lime mortar should have been used.   At the time of the survey, the wall might be in good condition, but that is not what you need to know.   You need more than that.   You need to know about the future problem that is going to happen.

Also, you will need to know a lot about the legal details and specifically about Unauthorised Alterations.   Any report that focuses solely on the condition is not going to do this.

Too many surveyors use the Level 3 templates, and they are perfectly fine for modern houses (that is what they were designed for), but they are wholly unsuitable for older and Listed Buildings.  In fact, I would say that those reports are not fit for use.   You want a report that is written about this specific house for you personally.    Ask lots of questions before the survey, and the surveyor should answer them all in the report.   Specifically ask about checking for damp and for alterations that would have required Listed Building Consent.   The surveyor should be capable of telling you everything you need to know and not passing you elsewhere for a ‘damp inspection’.

BS 7913

You should also ask whether the surveyor knows about BS 7913 and follows it.   If they have never heard of it, then walk away…

JPS 2022

I have written a separate Blog post about the new landmark document – JPS 2022.    You can read all about it and download the document here..:

JPS 2022 information

It is very important that you ask for your surveyor to specifically comply with JPS 2022 when doing any investigation for moisture in a traditional building.   You do not want to end up with a referral to a ‘damp specialist’.   Your surveyor should be the damp specialist and should be perfectly qualified and experienced to be able to advise you accordingly.

The Surveyor

You should also ask who the specific surveyor is who will do your survey (not just the company name) and what experience and knowledge that person has of Listed Buildings.    Surveyors are not all the same. 

An analogy..   if you get divorced, you go to a Divorce Lawyer.   If you are doing a company take-over, you use a Corporate Lawyer.   So..  get the correct surveyor for this house.   We are not all the same.

If I am too busy or otherwise unable to do your survey, then take a look at this list of RICS Conservation Accredited surveyors it will give you a headstart on trying to find someone else.   Not all will do pre-purchase surveys, so you might need to phone a few of them…

RICS List of Conservation Accredited Surveyors

If you would like an impartial opinion once you have your report, please do get back to me.   I have a one hour online consultation for only £150 + VAT which will be ideal for you.


Disclaimer:   Anything posted in this Blog is for general information only and it is not in any way intended to provide any advice, legal or otherwise, on any general or specific matter that you can rely on.  You should always seek your own legal and surveying advice.