How to Survey Property like the Professionals

Learning how to survey property can be a key skill for property investors and developers to acquire. The truth is that surveyors study for years to do what they do; however, the majority of the properties they have to survey probably don’t really test a fraction of the skills that they took years to study for.

The skills to do the average property survey they do can be learnt in a fraction of the time it took for them to study. These skills can then be worked on and refined so that you become reasonably good at surveying property yourself.

So, if you really want to get some how to survey property tips, this web page will help you to attain the basic skills and point you in the direction of the basics to look out for.

The first thing to keep in mind when considering how to survey property is to be prepared. You will need the right equipment with you.

The following are things that might come in useful:

  1. Camera
  2. Note pad
  3. Pen
  4. Voice memo
  5. binoculars
  6. Any details of the property you already have i.e. the estate agents details of what is supposed to be in the property, room sizes etc.

If at all possible you should try and do the property survey in wet conditions. The reason for this is that it will probably be easier to spot faulty guttering, down pipes, a leaky roof and other rain, or wet related problems.

Start the survey by having a walk around the property, both inside and out to get a general feel for the property. Does it feel like a new build? Does it feel or smell damp? Is it well lit?


External Walls

  • What type of construction is it i.e. solid brick, stone, cavity walls etc.
  • Look our for any signs of damp or staining. Also keep an eye out for bulges.
  • Are there any cracks that you should be worried about? Look in particular for cracks or signs of movement around corners of door or around window frames. Cracks in these areas could be a sign of more serious things such as subsidence or movement. If you notice anything strange, you can also take a look at the rest of the houses on the street to see if they appear to have similar problems. Look out especially for cracks below the damp proof cause as this might also be an indication of much bigger problems.
  • Is the pointing ok? What type of finish is there on the walls i.e. pebble dash, paint, just brick etc. Sometimes the finish will also help date the property as particular finishes where popular at certain periods in time.

Chimney Stack

Are there any loose bricks or damaged bricks or signs of damp? Make sure you look at the chimney from different angles and (if you are not too embarrassed) use the binoculars.


  • Just like with the chimney stack, what is the roofs general state of repair? Look at it from all angles.
  • What is it made of?
  • Go up into the loft and check for signs of daylight coming through the roof and water coming through.
  • Check the ceiling of the room below for signs water might have come through recently or in the past.

Out Buildings

Check the condition of sheds, garages, out door offices and barns etc. If there are outdoor toilets check those as well.

Add Ons and Alterations

Check extensions, loft conversions, basement conversions (be especially aware of any potential damp problems in basement conversions). Be sure to check any paper work and make sure that things were done according to the building regulations. Also make sure you view and warranties or guarantees.


  • Is it newly built or refurbished?
  • Is the décor trying to hide something? Are some of the ceilings painted a strange dark colour, potentially trying to hide a leak from above or some other problem?
  • Are the ceilings original? What sort of condition are they in? Is there any sort of sound proofing in the ceilings or floors above?
  • What materials where used on the floors and are the materials used in keeping with the rest of the property? If the carpets are out of sync with the rest of the property might they be hiding something underneath?
  • What are the partition walls made of i.e. brick, block, plaster board? Tapping on the wall should be able to tell you reasonable accuracy what the wall is made of. Also check if there are any party wall issues with adjoining properties.
  • What materials are the doors and windows made of? Are they in there original design and does this add value to the property in some way? Also consider if any of the glass panels need replacing now or potentially in the near future. What is the condition of any protective paintwork etc . Do they let draft in? Are windows double glazed? Do the windows or doors look like they will need replacing or repairing in the near future?
  • Is there a damp proof course? You can sometimes tell this by looking outside at the external walls and if there is a black line two to three bricks up from the ground, this is normally a sign that there is a damp proof course.
  • Look for signs of rot or woodworm in any timber.

Other Things to Check

Below is the final list of a few other things you might want to check when considering how to survey property effectively.

  • What is the state of the fixtures and fittings such as lights, light switches, plug sockets etc.
  • Does the electric supply have some sort of trip safety mechanism?
  • Is there central heating? If there is, what type of heating is it and how old is it? If there is a boiler? Do they have service records for it and how old is it?
  • Has a water meter been fitted and is there a shared mains water supply.
  • Do they have their gas appliances checked regularly and if they do, do they have a record of it.
  • Flush the toilets, and run the water from taps to check the water drains away properly and that there is no strange sounds such as a loud knocking sound when running the water.
  • Check ventilation in the property. Especially Check adequate ventilation etc is any places like the bathroom and kitchen.

Although you can do all the above yourself, the number one tip when considering how to survey property is probably to bring a friend along who is a builder. If you don’t have one, then perhaps you can get one to come along with you for a small fee or if you have done business with them before, they might come along for free if you tell them it is a property you are considering buying.

Hopefully you found this page on how to survey your property tips useful and that you will go out and put into practise some of what you have learnt.

Lastly, don’t forget to check websites like for the actual sale prices of comparable properties in the area.

**Nothing on this website should be confused with financial or legal advice. If you need this, or any other type of advice, please seek the help of a competent professional. In addition, because real estate laws change all the time and differ from state to state, and even city to city in the same state, everything in these pages should be considered general marketing advice and ideas. Please see link to full Disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

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