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Hot Topic Highlight – Inspection (Part 1)

Updated: Oct 28, 2023

Building a Better You

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What is the article about?

In this week’s blog, we take a look at the Inspection technical competency. This is essential reading for both AssocRICS and APC candidates following following the Inspection competency.

We have split this blog into two parts, with part 2 coming soon!

Thank you to Brian Robinson, Property Elite consultant, for writing this blog.

Brian is hosting an APC workshop on Inspection in August 2023, which you can book below.

Why is inspection a core skill for surveyors?

Inspection is a core skill required of surveyors. Many surveyors consider this to be a simple skill as after all you are just “looking” at something, but any inspection needs care. It is important that you look and understand what you see that is there or not there, in addition to any defects or issues with the elements which cannot be explained.

A simple example which I came across many years ago to demonstrate this is that of the lit candle. Imagine a standard white candle which has been lit - how many things do you think can be observed?

I have run this exercise in several lectures and most people say between 6 and 10.

Well, you can in fact observe more than 20 separate things about the lit candle!

For example, take the flame, most people will say that there is a flame but some of what you can also observe is:

  • The flame is tapered

  • It moves in the breeze

  • It widens and narrows when it moves

  • It is elliptical in shape

  • It originates at the wick

  • The flame has two/three shades of colour

  • It is orange at the tip

  • It has smoke at its tip

  • The flame is hot

So, the first thing about any inspection is to take your time and understand fully what you are looking at and what you then may need to look for.

What are some of the reasons for inspection?

The key to any effective inspection is understanding the reason for the inspection.

A surveyor can carry out inspections for a variety of reasons, some of which are:

  • Level 1, 2 or 3 Survey

  • Schedule of Condition

  • Pre-Acquisition Report

  • Dilapidations Report

  • Defect Report

  • Stock Condition Survey

  • Measured Survey

  • Building Insurance Reinstatement Report

  • More specialist inspections of ecclesiastical or historic buildings

  • Checking on construction work as Contract Administrator

What equipment may be needed when inspecting?

It is important that you have the right equipment to undertake the inspection.

The following items are considered to be standard equipment for all levels of inspection:

  • Damp meter

  • Binoculars

  • Magnet

  • Torch

  • Plumb bob

  • Spirit level

  • Pocket mirror

  • Compass

  • Digital camera - do not rely on your mobile phone, always check that the battery is fully charged or you have a spare battery and take a spare memory card

  • Selfie stick - useful for taking photographs of gutters etc.

  • Surveyor’s ladder for flat roofs and for hatches no more than 3 meters above level ground (outside) or floor surfaces (inside), if it is safe to do so

  • Lifting equipment and/or crowbar, which is sensible because chamber-cover lifting 'keys' rarely work as the lifting holes are often rusted or full of debris

To make the lifting of covers easier, other tools that can help are:

  • A robust claw hammer or club hammer

  • A large flat head screwdriver, for levering up the cover

  • A bolster or cold chisel, If practical and safe to use

I always also carry the following:

  • Hygrometer, which is useful if condensation may be a problem

  • Set of screw drivers - small, large

  • Leatherman Tool or equivalent

  • Hand sanitiser or wipes

  • Toilet paper - in empty buildings you may find the toilet is still usable, but there is unlikely to be any towels, and in residential flats there will be no public toilets at all. Always get permission to use the facilities if it is a private building or dwelling

  • A drink and possibly a snack - especially if you are surveying an empty building and the survey is going to take several hours

  • A bag to carry your kit in

Whatever equipment is used, make sure you have adequate training and competence to apply it to the specific circumstance to enable the delivery of the service agreed with the client.

What personal protective equipment (PPE) will I need?

Whatever inspection you are undertaking, always have appropriate clothing with you. taking into consideration the type of inspection you are going to carry out.

If you are going to an occupied domestic property, then your normal work clothing will be okay. However, if you are going to inspect a derelict building, an industrial unit or a construction site, you need to consider wearing clothing you do not mind getting dirty. So, an expensive outfit you love may not be appropriate!

Examples of PPE include:

  • High vis jacket

  • Safety boots or steel capped shoes

  • Bodycam

  • Hard hat, dust mask, goggles and ear plugs for construction sites

  • Slip over shoe covers for residential properties

  • Waterproof over trousers and a waterproof hat, if you will be working in the rain

  • Some surveyors wear disposable overalls for certain surveyors

  • Warm jacket for cold weather

  • Umbrella

  • Gloves - I always had a pair of old leather gloves in the pocket of my high vis jacket, but disposal gloves are useful as well

How can we help?

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

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


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