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Hot Topic Highlight - Inspection - Methodology



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Property Elite’s sole aim is to build better property professionals - supporting your career every step of the way, whether you are an AssocRICS or RICS APC candidate or a MRICS or FRICS Chartered Surveyor simply seeking engaging CPD.


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What is today's blog about?


This week we are going to take a look at inspection methodology as part of the Inspection competency, which will be relevant to various RICS APC pathways including Building Surveying, Quantity Surveying & Construction, Residential Property, Valuation and Commercial Property. 


Essential reading for AssocRICS and RICS APC candidates.


You can also listen to our CPD podcast on Anchor for more free AssocRICS and RICS APC training and support.


What do I need to do before attending site?


Health & safety - this always comes first and is one of the most important considerations when inspecting. Think about risk assessment, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and dynamically assessing risk on site.


Access arrangements - this will depend on whether the property is held freehold/leasehold and whether it is occupied or not. In the case of a tenanted property, check the lease carefully for what it says about access arrangements and giving appropriate notice, e.g. 24-48 hours in most cases.


Due diligence research - do as much as you can before you attend site, it will help you to prepare for what you may find and may avoid the necessity to revisit at a later date.


What is the purpose of my inspection?

You need to consider this carefully, as it will influence what factors you pay particular attention to on site.


For example (and, remember, this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Valuation - what factors influence value? These could be location, tenure, design, construction, defects, condition and tenure

  • Property management (occupied) - compliance with lease, statutory compliance, repair/condition, requirements for repair/redecoration, user and details of the actual occupier

  • Property management (unoccupied) - risk of vandalism, security, landscaping, fire risk, insurance requirements and statutory compliance

  • Agency - current market condition, repair or maintenance required prior to marketing (or offset with an incentive package), statutory compliance, flexibility of accommodation and marketability


What should I inspect first?

At Property Elite, we like to inspect the surrounding area first, followed by the external and then internal areas of a property. We also like to work from the roof downwards.


Your employer or organisation may have a different basic methodology which fits the requirements of your clients or brief better though - just make sure you can justify your approach in your RICS APC assessment.


What observations should I record on site?


  • Written/typed notes, depending on whether you use proforma inspection templates/checklists or an iPad/iPhone app. Make sure they are neat and legible for when you are back in the office or if someone else needs to read your file

  • Photographs of the property and any potential issues you identify

  • Annotated plans or diagrams

  • Results of any building pathology tests

  • Measurements - although this is a different competency and you should avoid mixing up inspection and measurement in your RICS APC assessment


What should I be looking for in the surrounding area?

(Again, remember, none of the below are exhaustive lists)


  • Wider locational context

  • Situation

  • Aspect

  • Local facilities

  • Public transport

  • Contamination/environmental hazards

  • Flood risk

  • High voltage power lines

  • Telephone masts

  • Comparables

  • Local market conditions

  • Agents’ boards


What should I be looking for externally?


  • Building age

  • Construction method of the building and specific elements

  • Site-specific location

  • Site access

  • Car parking

  • Loading access and requirements

  • Repair and condition

  • Contamination

  • Asbestos

  • Site boundaries, which could be checked using a Title Plan or lease plan

  • Defects, e.g. structural movement, subsidence, heave, cracking, cladding


What should I be looking for internally?

  • Layout

  • Specification - you'll need to consider flexibility and obsolescence, together with specific requirements for the type of building you are inspecting

  • Services - age and condition

  • Fixtures and fittings

  • Improvements

  • Compliance with lease obligations, e.g. repair and maintenance

  • Defects, e.g. wet and dry rot, damp, death watch beetle, water ingress, condensation

  • Deleterious materials, e.g. High Alumina Cement (HAC) and calcium chloride

  • Hazardous materials, e.g. lead piping, wood wool slabs, asbestos

  • Statutory compliance


What should I do if I identify a defect?


  • Photograph it

  • Try to identify cause of damage

  • Inform and advise your client

  • Recommend specialist advice


If you are a building surveyor or specialist in a particular area of defect diagnosis or building pathology, you may provide advice and remedial actions for the defect yourself. 


However, for most general practice surveyors, this will be outside your scope of your competence and you should refer out for specialist professional advice.


How can we help?

  • Head to our blog archive to access even more free CPD and AssocRICS and RICS APC training and support.

  • Download your free AssocRICS and RICS APC resources, including e-books and revision quizzes.

  • Find out more about our bespoke AssocRICS and RICS APC training and support, before booking your free 15 minute consultation and signing up for your services online.

  • Not sure about signing up? Make sure you read what our recent successful candidates have to say in our Testimonials.


Stay tuned for our next blog post to help build a better you


N.b. Nothing in this article constitutes legal or financial advice.