Job descriptions and industry overviews

Building surveyor: job description

6 Sept 2023, 14:12

Building surveyors assess how safe and energy efficient buildings are, and provide advice on building safety to construction and property professionals and property owners.

Property surveyors taking measurements in agricultural land.

Building surveyor : Salaries | Employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Building surveyors assess new and existing buildings for defects and other problems, and advise on how to resolve them.

Typical duties of the role include:

  • advising clients about building/property issues, which can include technical, financial, legal, environmental/sustainability, building regulation and restoration matters.
  • carrying out building surveys.
  • using computer-assisted design (CAD) packages and other specialist software to capture and analyse information.
  • 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.
  • liaising with local planning bodies, construction workers and other professionals to ensure projects meet the relevant safety, sustainability and preservation standards.

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 you may need to work extra hours to meet report or project deadlines.

Graduate salaries

Specialist real estate recruiters report that starting salaries for graduate building surveyors are around £27,000. If you achieve chartership, your salary will increase significantly: a survey commissioned by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found that on average, qualified surveyors earn around £50,000.

You can learn more about what property surveyors can expect to earn here .

Typical employers of building surveyors

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

Jobs are advertised on targetjobs and by careers services. You can also find vacancies advertised on specialist property jobs boards and sector-specific sites.

Qualifications and training required

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 RICS or
  • a degree in another subject plus a postgraduate conversion course in building surveying accredited by the RICS (this is typically a PGDip or a masters).

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

Find out about how sponsorship of RICS postgraduate courses works.

While in your 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. If your degree doesn’t include a placement year, look for shorter and less formal opportunities such as work shadowing or temporary holiday work.

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.
  • An eye for detail.
  • Willingness to work outside in all conditions.
  • Interest in and firm knowledge of issues that affect the built environment, including building regulations and health and safety legislation.
  • Commercial awareness and an understanding of how your recommendations will affect a construction project's profitability.
  • Relationship-building and customer service skills.
  • IT skills, including knowledge of industry-specific software.
  • An analytical mind.
  • Negotiation skills.
  • Strong problem-solving skills.
  • Interpersonal and communication skills, both written and oral.
  • Excellent project and time management skills.
  • Teamworking skills.

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

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This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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