Surveys Time on Site and Write-Ups

By Nathan Foley | 15 October 2022 | Home Heroes

I am always busy and the possibility of you getting a survey from me in the next 10 days is almost impossible, this is in part to how popular our services are and the fact that I operate part-time. This means what time it is available goes quicker but in reality, I may be able to do one additional survey a week if I was full-time, which isn’t very much.

How long?

I had a recent issue where a vendor had been informed of my survey visit by the agent and had neglected to tell them my time on site for an average normal house is approximately 3-5 hours, when I arrived and went over my introductions they where not expecting this level of inspection, I informed them it was likely to be closer to 3 than 5 as it was only a 110sqm flat but I would keep her informed and when we were done I had taken almost 600 photos and done my usual proforma and 2 sides of additional notes. The total time on site was six hours.

Why so long?

Why so long the communal areas were a mess and there were extensive issues with inappropriate repairs to the flat which formed part of a grade II listed building. As well as this there were issues with drainage, ground levels and other typical building defects. Bedrooms without means of escape and poor layout. I am old school too, I still use paper site notes and pens/pencils although I am considering trying out a remarkable or the new kindle scribe for site work. I have no check boxes that automatically generate the report based on a few photos and some checkboxes, this may be the way to produce more volume and thus more money but it doesn’t give my customers what I want and that is a good quality survey product.

Average pre-site and on-site times

So as well as the several hours on site (my average is 6.5 hours) but this does include some very large surveys of historical structures that total up to 2 days anything more than 2 days gets excluded from the average.

There is also the desktop research before we go to a site which is all undertaken by me and is all manual and pulls all the information we can to put into our survey reports about another hour’s worth of work, this can be considerably more before on a listed or historic property. If it’s available for free access online we try and obtain it and we will also email local authorities and ask for information if there is sufficient time before the survey and if we can get it back (in about 85% of cases unless it’s very simple we don’t get a reply)

After the Survey

So when we return it’s out with the electrical and expensive tools, the drone, the cameras, the hydrometeors etc, it’s uploading the photos to both the local NAS and the cloud storage, it’s scanning in the site notes and uploading to the client file on the NAS and the cloud storage. From here we will reflect I may write a few draft paragraphs with the most pertinent or controversial information to see how it sits with me and to get my initial verdict and update. I would usually confirm with the client that the survey took place and if there was anything we couldn’t inspect or any issues such as one visit to the neighbour who was burning what looked like the totality of their wheely bin in the back garden right next to the fence of the property I was inspecting. This probably takes at least another hour.

Reflection, and write up

This is an important step and it’s actually an RICS requirement time to reflect on what you’ve seen on-site and what you’ve written to make sure you’re not jumping to those conclusions does the damp meter (Conductive meter) beeping mean its damp or is it foil-backed wallpaper or salts? Could that lower level in the grounds have been a poorly filled-in pond or a culvert? This is no fixed amount of time for your reflection but In this time I would also read my opinions from the survey think about the theme maybe research what I am saying with something to back it up an excerpt from a book, a reference anything, in reality, I don’t usually visit more than one property a day unless it’s for monitoring purposes when I try and get a few together, and I don’t write up surveys until at least the next working day.

Your report, is not dictated and typed, or a paint-by-number report or performed insert data type report yes I have a few phrases I tailor and remove from each report (I am a dyslexic and there are just some words or phrases I can never type out correctly multiple times) There all hand typed by myself based on the site notes, the photos are marked up by me by hand in software, sometimes I may even commission a company to create a digital diagram for use within the report you can see all these and some of the reasons we are different here

Our surveys on average are about 90 pages in length full of photos, screen captures, infographics, and defects, this is no 15-30 page report with zero use.

I have a pretty standard fee structure and its one that has stood for several years, it works most of our fees it depends on the type of property, its location, the size and the risk factors these allow me to earn a reasonable fee but also offer what in my opinion is a very good product.