What does a building surveyor do?

What does a building surveyor do?

Explore the varied and interesting role of a building surveyor

Surveyors play an important role in the building industry, but what does working as a building surveyor actually involve?

Surveyors play an important role in the building industry – if you’ve ever bought or carried out renovations to a property it’s likely that you’ve come into contact with a building surveyor – but you may not know exactly what the role involves.

So, what does a building surveyor actually do? We spoke with surveyors Essex to find out.

Different hats

Simply speaking, a building surveyor is responsible for assessing the quality of a building, examining its condition and providing expert advice on how to preserve or improve its condition. However, the reality of the role is a little more complex. Building surveyors can work on a huge variety of buildings – from commercial properties to domestic houses – and in their day-to-day work they wear a number of different hats.

Safety assessor

One of the most important roles of a building surveyor is to ensure that a building is safe to use. This requires a thorough knowledge of current health and safety regulations and involves carrying out a variety of surveys and inspections, including on plumbing and electrics, to assess how well the site meets safety requirements. Where there are concerns about safety, a building surveyor will be able to recommend appropriate action to help bring the building up to standard.

Quality control

As well as ensuring safety, building surveyors are also responsible for ensuring that buildings live up to quality standards and are suitable for human habitation. This involves carrying out detailed inspections and, where defects are discovered, recommending appropriate remedial action. Many jobs will also require surveyors to assess the energy efficiency of a building, or to ensure that a property is suitable for use by people with disabilities.

Planning advice

Another key responsibility of a building surveyor is to provide planning advice and lend their expertise to planning applications. This can include advising on building regulations and property legislation and how best to comply. Surveyors can also play a more ‘hands-on’ role, meeting with stakeholders to discuss planning applications, amending the plans to accommodate any significant objections and helping the project to gain the relevant planning permission.

Project management

While a large part of a building surveyor’s job entails carrying out inspections and making recommendations, there is also the opportunity to take on a project management role, applying their knowledge and expertise to help ensure that a construction project is completed on time and on budget.


When you hear ‘building surveyor’ you may not immediately think ‘historian’ but alongside the standard domestic and commercial properties, historic structures such as cathedrals, castles and heritage buildings also need surveying. This means that building surveyors can have an active part to play in helping to preserve our heritage.

Expert witness

As we’ve already mentioned, building surveyors are valued for their expert knowledge, and they are sometimes asked to share this knowledge as expert witnesses in a court of law. In court cases where regulations have been broken the expertise of a building surveyor can prove invaluable. They can also play an important role in situations where there is a difference of opinion on how to develop, preserve or restore a particular site.

Range of sectors

As well as holding a number of different roles, building surveyors also work across a range of sectors and organisations. Some surveyors work for surveying companies or construction firms, while others work in-house for businesses that require specialist surveying expertise, such as local authorities, solicitors or insurers.

As you can see, the role of building surveyor is a hugely varied one and there are number of different routes and specialisms that wannabe surveyors can choose from. It’s often hard work, but for the right person, a career as a building surveyor can prove incredibly interesting and rewarding.


What does a building surveyor do?