What you should know about building survey

Do you require plans for an old building that needs structural changes or renovation?
Do you want to buy a property, but are unsure of its condition, or suspect that there might be latent defects hidden somewhere?
Are you buying a new property and need a defects report for retention purposes?

Architectural Building Survey
is a profession and an art form of its own, that can only be performed by experts and those who have many years experience in the industry. It is the art of knowing what goes on behind solid walls, what defects are hidden behind wall cladding etc.

We provide a record of Existing Field Conditions to the construction industry architectural / engineering professionals and the general public, at a very reasonable price. We will measure any building anywhere, anytime.

There are two types of building survey services that we can provide:

Measuring up and drawing  of “as-built” plans

If you’re interested in making structural changes to any building, this is where to start.

It is especially recommended for older buildings, (60 years or more) those constructed out of unconventional materials or constructed using unconventional methods, and definitely those properties which have had lots of alterations or additions over the years. In fact, a complete survey is always recommended for any building  which you intend to alter or renovate, as available building plans are usually outdated, inaccurate or incomplete, and the site conditions are rarely a true reflection of the designer’s  intentions on the original building drawings.

As these drawings are generally produced for the use of architects or engineers as a baseline drawing for new additions and / or alterations, no condition report usually goes with it.

So it doesn’t matter if you have existing plans that simply need to be verified and converted into computer (CAD) format, or if you have no plans at all.

We will take horizontal and vertical measurements (levels), and then produce a full set of professional quality drawings from scratch, which graphically represents the existing physical conditions of the subject building in plan, cross section/s, and elevation views, all 2-dimensional.

Our work generally starts at the perimeter skin of the building followed by a room-by-room interior survey, verified against a complete set of interior and façade photographs.

Architectural Building Survey is based on what is visible to the naked eye, and even though we employ very accurate laser technology, measurements are always taken from finished surfaces, and then reduced mathematically to the correct design dimensions, so even though a double brick wall is shown on a design drawing as 220mm, in practice, after being plastered, it may be measured as 270mm.  No hidden details will be revealed such as reinforcing etc.

We will sometimes have to return to the site to verify and check discrepancies. We strive towards maximum accuracy, and we warrant all our work. If you ever suspect a discrepancy, we will re-survey that section free of charge.

Your package will usually consist of:

  • One set of print – outs of the scaled drawings (additional copies may be ordered)
  • One set of digital photographs
  • Electronic data in Adobe Acrobat (*.pdf) and in Autocad Drawing Exchange Format (*.DXF)


 Building Condition and Defects Survey  (Pre-purchase / Pre-leasing)


This  kind of survey carried out by a Professional Building Surveyor is like a ‘health check’ for buildings, and is highly recommended for anyone who plans to buy a property, or even before making an offer to purchase. This is a basic survey that will give you a general overview of the condition of the property. It is also suitable for a pre-lease agreement where a property is going to be let out to a tenant.

The building condition and defects survey will also assist the buyers/ owners to have a good understanding on the condition or dilapidation of the building, as the report provides information on building defects, building hazards and performance, explaining the causes of building defects and recommending the appropriate and effective remedial works and necessary maintenance works to maintain the life of the property.

This survey is usually in the form of a comprehensive report, and doesn’t normally include the preparation of any drawings.

We  will carefully check and inspect everything that is visible or easily accessible to examine the soundness of the structure, its general condition, listing all (major and minor) defects, including a diagnosis and prognosis where possible.

The report will be extremely thorough, as we are morally obliged to inform you of all the findings of the survey. So, don’t be put off if it seems that the defects list is endless.  Every building has defects, even if it is still brand new. But we will rather provide you with the worst case scenario, and recommend actions for rectification, in order to put you in a position where you can make informed decisions based on facts. Our report is designed to help you make a more informed decision.

A proper survey will actually save you money. If serious defects are found, you can often re-negotiate the sale price of the property to reflect the cost of necessary remedial repairs, or you may even decide to call off the deal in total.

We  will report on all the parts of the property that can be reached with reasonable ease. However, We do not perform any probing, removal, cutting, chipping, sawing or other invasive building inspection methods.

We don’t inspect under carpets or furniture. We don’t open up wall paneling or remove any cladding material. We also don’t test the water supply, sewerage flow or electrical wiring, as these should be done by specialists in those fields – though we will comment on its condition.

Your package will usually consist of:

  • One set of print – outs of the documents (additional copies may be ordered)
  • Digital photographs
  • An electronic version of the report in Adobe Acrobat format (*’pdf) or Msword.

What the client can do to keep costs down:

Measuring buildings are time-consuming, very exhausting, and sometimes even very confusing. We will make every effort to perform our work efficiently and accurately, but there are a few things you can do to help us keep costs down.

  1. Provide us with a base plan of the existing building, usually obtainable from the local authority. Any existing drawings will be better than nothing at all. Costs will be higher if the building must be surveyed and drawn from scratch, as the survey procedure is then  much more intensive.
  2. Provide a Surveyor General diagram, obtainable from the SGO or local authority,  so that the exact perimeter dimensions of the property can be established.
  3. The building must be fully accessible. Locked doors will be by-passed if a key is not readily available, and re-survey of these spaces at a later stage will be at extra cost to the client.