Buying business property

Buying commercial property: using a surveyor


Before buying property or taking on a lease, you need to know of any problems that the building may have prior to committing yourself to the purchase. The surveyor's role is to carry out a survey which assesses the value and structure of the property you want to purchase. It is wise to have a full structural survey carried out, so that there are no nasty surprises later. A full survey will reassure any mortgage lender that the property is a sound investment. Small business property guide: valuations.

What can surveyors help with?

Surveyors can help:

  • prevent legal disputes arising from buying, selling, leasing or letting commercial property
  • avoid nasty surprises and expensive repair bills
  • weigh up whether the asking price for the property reflects its true value
  • give you the upper hand during negotiations as you will have a detailed report on the current building condition
  • prevent you paying too much for the right insurance cover or getting the wrong insurance policy
  • identify potential future maintenance requirements of the building usually with cost-estimates

How does a building survey work?

The chartered surveyor starts with a visual inspection of the building structure by examining floors, walls and ceilings. They will pay particular attention to signs of settlement, damp or timber decay. The existing state of roof coverings, gutters and downpipes will be noted, as will the condition of doors or windows which may be approaching the end of their useful life.

A chartered surveyor would not report in detail on the heating or electrical equipment in the property or on the underground drainage system. Other items normally excluded would be the presence of damaging materials such as high-alumina cement. Specialist surveys are available to cover asbestos and the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act.

It is vital that any commercial property survey is undertaken by a suitably qualified and experienced surveyor and that they are a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Find a RICS chartered surveyor near you.

For further information, download the RICS Small Business Property Guide (PDF, 6.5MB).

  • RICS Enquiry Line
    0870 333 1600