How do I choose a surveyor?

Q. I bought a house six months ago and have experienced some issues with the property that weren’t picked up in the survey. What can I do?

A: I’m sorry to hear you’re facing this as it can be a really stressful situation.

Instructing a good surveyor is really important when buying a property; when choosing who to use, there are certain things you should consider. Firstly, it can be helpful if your surveyor has local knowledge as it can be valuable for him or her to have insight in to other similar properties in the area.

Secondly, check how contactable and approachable the surveyor is; I’ve dealt with some who email a report and that’s it. Others are fully contactable on their mobile if you have any questions, and some will even offer to do a post-survey meeting to talk through the report in person.

Thirdly, I would check that the surveyor will take and include photos in their report as lots of clear photos can be really key if they discover during the survey that works are required. If you can forward a very clear survey with photos to the seller to show that works are needed, it can be much easier to negotiate a purchase price reduction.

Ask the level of their professional indemnity insurance to check that they’re adequately covered in case anything fundamental is missed. All surveyors should be RICS accredited, which is a professional qualification, so check the RICS website and also ask the surveyor how many years’ experience they have.

Once you’ve chosen your surveyor, make sure you read the report thoroughly before you exchange contracts on your purchase. Send a copy to your solicitor too as there may well be some points raised that your solicitor needs to investigate or verify.

If you find yourself facing issues with the property after you’ve bought it, you do have redress to the surveyor, depending on what the issues are. Remember that surveys are usually non-invasive and therefore some issues will be impossible to identify without opening up ceilings or floor boards – which you, of course, can’t do before you own the property.

If the issue is something that should have been identified, check the survey and explain the issue to the surveyor. The surveyor should take note, come out to see you, look at the issue and discuss, or provide a solution. If you can’t resolve a problem, you will need to try to make a claim on the surveyor’s professional indemnity insurance so the surveyor should provide the required details.

If you have a question you’d like Jo to answer please email or tweet her @joeccles.