This content outlines examples of suitable equipment required to complete home survey services.
This is live content and is supporting information only. It is not intended to be mandatory or prescriptive guidance.
Please refer back to the RICS Home Survey Standard 1st edition Professional Statement, section 3.3.
RICS members and regulated firms should have appropriate health and safety policies and procedures in place, including access to appropriate health and safety related equipment. For more information, see health and safety during inspections and be familiar with the current edition of Surveying safely: health and safety principles for property professionals, RICS guidance note.
RICS has produced a range of practical guides to enable RICS professionals to work safely and in line with government guidelines through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The RICS COVID-19 guide to surveying services: Physical inspections for the purpose of residential valuations and condition-based surveys includes recommendations for before, during and after a physical inspection.
The list of equipment below is not intended to be comprehensive. At their discretion, surveyors may – but are not obliged to – use other equipment (eg compass, tape, inspection cover lifter, meter box key, spirit level). There is no objection to the use of digital equipment for recording site notes, provided that RICS members and regulated firms produce “an accurate and comprehensive record of the property at the time of inspection to allow reflection during the report production stage and before the report is delivered”.
Many firms will have their own policies on engaging with vendors. Please refer to your company’s policy throughout the delivery of your service.
For all levels of service, RICS members should have access to suitable equipment required to complete the service. The following items are considered to be standard equipment for all levels of inspection.
These can either be standard size or compact binoculars, as long as they are 10× magnification. These enable you to see the roof, chimney and other upper building elements from a distance.
The HSS states the surveyor “uses a ladder for flat roofs and for hatches no more than 3m above level ground (outside) or floor surfaces (inside) if it is safe to do so”.
To use the ladder safely, the top portion of the ladder should extend 1m above the stepping off or viewing level. Consequently, the ladder should be at least 4m long.
A strong magnet is a useful tool for surveyors to carry at all levels.
Use a suitable tape for inspections. Handheld laser 'distance meters' can speed up inspections but there will be occasions when there is no opposing wall to ‘bounce’ the laser off, so you should carry a measuring tape as a backup.
Externally, you may need to take longer measurements to check the relative positions of boundaries.
A laser measure can be excellent for measuring heights of rooms and other features. Where the property is affected by structural movement, a ruler marked in millimetres can help record these more accurately.
Depending on the nature of the instruction, surveyors may need equipment for more accurate measurement of crack width i.e. a crack gauge ruler.
Use a reliable electronic moisture meter. Always carry spare batteries and calibrate the meter in accordance to manufacturer instructions every time you use it.
Use a powerful torch. Always carry spare batteries and bulb.
A crow bar is sensible because chamber-cover lifting 'keys' rarely work as the lifting holes are often rusted or full of debris. To make the lifting of covers easier, other tools that can help are:
These additional tools may also be useful for other simple opening up tasks, such as lifting loose floorboards.
Spirit levels are appropriate tools to assess the alignment of door frames and window sills and/or whether the floors are sloping. A simple calculation will give the precise slope. An alternative would be to use an appropriate digital device
This can help you look under floors, within ducts and inside other voids. A 'search' mirror can be fixed on a telescopic arm and to extends your field of view. An alternative would be to use an appropriate digital device.
This may provide a quick and effective way of checking the verticality of walls, especially when dropped out of a convenient window, subject to wind conditions. Please refer to Health & Safety supporting content and your company’s policies and procedures when using this tool.
This is useful tool. It can indicate the direction of the prevailing weather – important information when looking for dampness.
All levels of the home surveys allow photographs to be added to the report. Nevertheless, digital images are no substitute for adequate and clear site notes – photographs should be supplementary to site notes. If you do take photographs, it is important this is done in compliance with relevant legislation and they are stored securely where they can be easily retrieved.
Whatever level of service you are providing, always be prepared by having appropriate clothing with you.
Examples may include Hi Visibility Jacket, Bodycam, steel capped shoes and hard hats, dust masks, goggles and ear plugs (depending on the subject property site).
Depending on the service you have agreed with the client, a range of different tools and equipment can be used by surveyors. These can be outlined within the description of service and/or terms of engagement.
The below list gives examples of specialist equipment that may be used. It is not a comprehensive list and is not intended to be mandatory or prescriptive guidance.
Please note that all information collated and stored must conform to current data protection legislation and regulations. Records must be securely stored and retained in line with current legislation and the current edition of Risk, liability and insurance in valuation work, RICS guidance note.
The information contained here is regularly reviewed to support members in safely delivering the highest level of service.