Understanding the different types of commercial property surveys

Understanding the different types of commercial property surveys

An understanding of the different types of commercial property surveys which are available will help you decide which one you need, and why you need it. We take a look at the variety on offer.


Commercial property surveys differ from domestic ones in many regards, not least of which is that they are more comprehensive and concentrate on more than a simple monetary valuation. They are also highly-specific in respect of the client’s commercial needs. For anyone involved in commercial property, as a buyer, seller, landlord or tenant, here is our brief guide to the three most important types of survey.

Building survey

For those interested in purchasing a commercial property, a building survey will provide a detailed report on the condition of a building, highlighting any defects, outlining the current condition and advising if any maintenance will be required in the future. The report will state what the building is constructed from, whether that be steelwork, reinforced concrete, traditional brick etc, and point out if any hazardous material, such as asbestos, is present.

Because of the nature of commercial leases, whereby a tenant is often liable for repairs to the premises, a building survey is essential to clarify in detail the condition of the building and its component parts. Suggestions for remedial works may also be given in the report. For tenants, it is important to understand future repair liabilities and how the implications of this can affect lease negotiations and for those wishing to purchase a property, it can assist with the possibility of a lower price being accepted by the vendor.

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is a UK-based professional body for surveyors designed to effect positive change in the built and natural environments.

Schedule of condition

For both property owners and new tenants, a schedule of condition is a useful report on the state of a commercial property at a given point in time. This report will describe, in detail, the condition of every part of the property, from floor to ceiling, and everything in between, and document that with photographs. This is important for tenants who have a liability within the lease to return the property to its original condition at the end of the term of the lease and has the potential to save thousands of pounds in repairs.

For property owners who have invested in the refurbishment of their property, a schedule of condition is useful to avoid contentious litigation at the end of a lease, if a tenant has damaged or abused the property in some way, providing documentary evidence of its condition at the start of the lease.

Schedule of dilapidations

This type of survey is usually carried out at the end of a lease by a property owner in order to establish the repairing obligations of their tenant, and to understand how best to settle the amount of dilapidation without resorting to legal action. In cases where the dilapidation is considerable, a building surveyor may also act as an expert intermediary in any negotiations, on behalf of either the landlord or the tenant.

It is vital that any commercial property survey of whatever sort is undertaken by a suitably-qualified and -experienced surveyor and that they are a member of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The reasons for this are twofold; firstly, RICS surveyors have undergone extensive and on-going training, backed with years of experience; secondly, they have comprehensive public liability insurance which protects both their clients and themselves.

If you need advice or information about any aspect of commissioning a commercial building survey, as a tenant, landlord, purchaser or vendor, talk to a member of our team. Our RICS-qualified experts can offer you professional, confidential guidance on the survey which is right for you.


Written by: John Padgett on Wednesday 24/08/2016



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