Alastair Woodgate, from leading local firm Rumball Sedgwick, considers the role of the chartered surveyor.
“So what exactly does a chartered surveyor do?” I was asked, not for the first time, at a dinner last evening. After a typical day of site meetings, inspections, valuations and office based work, I know the answer isn’t straightforward! In many respects there is no such job a “chartered surveyor.” Rather, it is a profession and the title describes a set of property related skills and jobs.
Understandably, most people aren’t aware of the breadth of work or of the skills employed but, wherever there’s property or land, a surveyor is likely to have been involved at the planning, building, marketing, management, refurbishment and disposal stages of the life of that property.
So it’s not just about the woman or man looking for defects in the house you’re hoping to buy, or the person in a fluorescent jacket with a laser level on a building site. Chartered surveyors may offer mortgage valuations, surveys, valuations for acquisition, sale, inheritance tax, charity purposes and leasehold reform, building design, planning and property management. It is not usual for any individual to have expertise across all areas and hence companies like mine exist, with a number of property experts, to offer a wide spectrum of services.
As accredited members of the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) we have to keep abreast of relevant developments in the world of property. What unites our services is an understanding how and why a building exists in the location and form it does. And valuation is often at the core of a the task. Valuation is a combination of art and science. It is an assessment of all the relevant criteria – including location, condition, planning, obligations and restrictions – but there is an element of judgement too which is where experience, science and art combine.
So chartered surveying is the profession that advises on land and property. But beware of asking a chartered surveyor to answer the question “what does a chartered surveyor do?” when making conversation at a dinner party!”