Hot Topic Highlight - Inspection - Methodology

Posted on 13 / 06 / 18
by Jen Lemen

Hot Topic Highlight - Inspection - Methodology


Building a better you 

Property Elite’s sole aim is to build better property professionals - supporting your career every step of the way, whether you are completing a RICS accredited degree course, your RICS APC/AssocRICS or simply seeking engaging CPD. 

If you are an RICS APC candidate, be sure to check out our RICS APC support services, including question packs, revision quizzes and mock interviews. 

You can read what some of our happy candidates had to say here.

Also make sure you check our our APC preparation blog if you are sitting this Spring!

If you have any concerns, contact us on 07804 642 825 or email rachel@property-elite.co.uk - we offer every candidate a free & friendly 30 minute RICS APC consultation.


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. 


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. Check out our Surveying Safely blog for further information
  • 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. Check out our Summer 2017 Red Book Update for links to the Red Book and VPS2, which relates to inspection factors
  • 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. Check out our empty property blog for further information
  • 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 - check out our contaminated land blog for further information and particularly consider Japanese knotweed
  • 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 - check out our contaminated land blog for further information
  • Asbestos - check out our asbestos blog for further information
  • Site boundaries, which could be checked using a Title Plan or lease plan
  • Defects, e.g. structural movement, subsidence, heave, cracking, cladding (see RICS guidance relating to Grenfell Tower)

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 (check out our asbestos blog for further information)
  • 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?

  • Sign up for a complimentary copy of our Ebook Guide to the APC (UK and MENA editions)/AssocRICS or our new APC Hot Topic Guide for Spring 2018 - full of even more helpful advice and tips to pass your RICS APC or AssocRICS with flying colours first time
  • Sign up for our bespoke support services, such as our final assessment review & feedback service, RICS APC question packs (around 1,000 questions/30 pages based on your submission), e-mock interviews and revision quizzes. Don't forget that we offer some great value discounted packages if you purchase more than one support service
  • If you're confused about anything, just contact us on 07804 642 825 / rachel@property-elite.co.uk. We offer all candidates a free & friendly 30 minute RICS APC consultation

You can read what some of our happy candidates had to say here.

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

N.b. nothing in this article constitutes legal advice.