The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors says it wants to simplify the system of surveys by scrapping the three current options and replacing them with one instead.
RICS has been working on the proposals since early this year but only now have the first details emerged of a possible future policy.
In an article in the Daily Telegraph, RICS spokesman Tom Littler says the current system is “too fragmented … the whole idea is to improve the product that a member of the public could receive from a house surveyor.”
Currently there are three types of survey, familiar to all agents.
The first is the Condition Report, supposedly flagging up major issues. Then there is the Homebuyer’s Report - more wide-ranging but still not covering several areas in detail. Finally there is the Structural or Building Survey, which is the most comprehensive.
Because there is no standardisation in the surveying industry, a Condition Report from one expert may cover considerably more - or less - than a similar report from another expert.
The idea floated by RICS is to abolish these three and instead have just one report - albeit with three levels, each of which would make clear the minimum service to be delivered.
On RICS’ own website, the organisation’s associate residential director Graham Ellis says: “Informal feedback from our professionals supports creating a new standard while avoiding further confusion. Consequently, a working group of home survey practitioners met … to scope out the project and look at consolidating current guidance and information into a single document akin to the Red Book.
“Creating the new standard will allow RICS to regulate the sector more effectively against a set of defined principles, while also ensuring surveyors have the flexibility to offer services that suit their clients and meet their expectations in a consistent way …
… Items for discussion by the working group include the three survey levels in the current RICS guidance note, against which the RICS Home Surveys services are benchmarked. Are these appropriate for the market? Are home surveyors competent to fulfil them, especially with respect to detailed building surveys?
… The most important factor is the relationship between the client and the home surveyor. Instructions sourced through third parties such as panel management companies will be under particular scrutiny to ensure consumers are best served.”
In the Telegraph, Littler says: “We want all surveyors, be they chartered surveyors or not, to follow the same standards so we don’t have things at different levels.”
The RICS proposals will be put to members in a consultation process.