Building surveyor: job description

Building surveyors provide technical advice to construction and property professionals, as well as to property owners.

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The best building surveyors have commercial awareness, a love of construction and a knowledge of legislation.

What does a building surveyor do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Building surveyors offer professional advice on factors affecting existing buildings such as building defects, alterations, renovations and extensions, as well as on the design and construction of new buildings. They work mostly on site to monitor the performance of structures and devise ways to improve them or correct flaws in their design.

Surveyors work alongside local planning bodies, clients, construction workers and other professionals to ensure projects meet the relevant safety, sustainability and preservation standards.

Typical activities of the role include:

  • advising clients about building/property issues, which can include technical, financial, legal, environmental/sustainability, building regulation and restoration matters
  • undertaking building surveys.
  • monitoring the deterioration or defects of a property and offering advice on repair work
  • assessing the impact of unexpected damage on insurance, for example after a fire or flood
  • writing technical reports
  • negotiating the repair of work or a financial settlement if required
  • planning and overseeing building work on small projects that don’t require an architect
  • managing projects and/or multidisciplinary teams.

Find out more about what a building surveyor does and how a building surveyor’s career can progress.

While building surveyors are office based, they will make regular site visits and can work outside in all weathers. Building surveyors tend to work typical office hours, although extra hours may be required to meet report or project deadlines.

Find out what building surveyors can earl in our guide to construction salaries.

Typical employers of building surveyors

  • Property firms
  • House builders and property developers
  • Housing associations
  • Local authorities
  • The civil service
  • Construction companies
  • Large corporate organisations that own or manage a lot of land, eg utility companies.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into a career as a building surveyor for both university graduates and school leavers. To find out how to start your career as a school leaver, either via an apprenticeship or an entry-level role, see our building surveying advice on our school leaver website TARGETcareers.

To get a graduate job as a building surveyor, you should have:

  • either an undergraduate degree in building surveying or very similar accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
  • or a postgraduate conversion course in building surveying accredited by the RICS (this is typically a PG Dip or a masters)

A few building surveying employers will recruit graduates with undergraduate degrees in any subject and pay for them to complete the RICS postgraduate degree while working for them. However, most want to hire you with an RICS-accredited degree already.

While in the graduate role, you will usually be expected to study towards chartership with the RICS (usually, but possibly a similar professional body such as the Chartered Institute of Building). Read up on the process of gaining chartership with RICS.

Gaining work experience in building surveying – or in a related construction, property or planning role – as a student can enhance your graduate job application. Many of the typical employers of building surveyors (see above) offer formal summer internships and industrial year placements. Find out about applying for internships at property employers and at construction employers .

Key skills for building surveyors

  • Organisational skills and an eye for detail
  • Willingness to work outside in all conditions
  • Interest in and firm knowledge of the built environment, including building regulations and health and safety legislation
  • An understanding of how their recommendations will affect a construction project's profitability
  • Relationship-building skills and a strong understanding of good customer service
  • IT skills, including knowledge of industry-specific software
  • Be analytically minded, with strong problem-solving skills
  • Interpersonal and communication skills, both written and oral
  • Excellent project and time management skills
  • Teamworking skills.

Also: a full driving licence is usually needed.

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