What to ask for in a survey - Part 2 - What type of survey

Tying closely into usage, the type of survey is important too. A building survey to assess the condition of a property is not the same as a Measured Building Survey, which is the generation of drawings or 3d models providing the measurements of a property. Both have ‘building survey’ in the title, but are undertaken for very different reasons and by different specialists.

An area survey, as previously mentioned, is a simple outline of a building plan to show usable areas for tenancy or sale of a property, and can be undertaken with more ease and less cost than a full measured building survey.

In assessing the structure of a building, you may only need a lower level detail structural *detail survey which would eliminate the time spent adding in architectural details such as door frames, windows, and radiators. *This should not be confused with a structural condition survey, which is a completely different type of survey.

A topographical survey is of the landscape surrounding a building (hard – pavements, roads and paving, walls, fences; or soft – grass, foliage, trees, etc.).
This is usually undertaken with different instruments to a Measured Building Survey and may require another surveyor with different skills – so before ordering a survey, find out if you need one or the other, or both!

Often money can be saved by scheduling both surveys to run at the same time, eliminating travel and other duplicated expenses. Sometimes, a surveyor can get both done in a day, so it pays to ask for what you need to save a return site visit.

You may only need a small area of ground around your property surveyed and then a curtilage of 2-5m can be added to a measured building survey without needing a topographical survey.

Does your survey need to be to GPS? If you have an existing survey, you may be able to tie into the new survey by using the same coordinates system. If multiple surveys are being undertaken by different specialists, you may need GPS to bring them together more easily. However, if your survey does not require GPS, an arbitrary level and datum can be simpler to use and cheaper than the additional equipment usage costs.

Now that we know the use and type of survey, the next installment will cover the format required for the survey output.

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