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Why should I commission a measured survey?

A measured survey is essential for the first stages of work on a listed building. Unless the work is of limited scale, the quality of your proposal depends on a good measured survey. 

Drawings of your building might exist from previous planning applications. Sometimes, you might have drawings as part of your lease or from the estate agent. But usually, those drawings are simplified, not always scaled or up to date. They are not to the quality of a measured survey. So if you want to produce an accurate proposal and anticipate site constraints, you need a measured survey. You want your drawings for your planning application and listed building consent to be as precise as possible.

Eva taking measurements
A detailed survey might be necessary for joinery or other historical features. This will depend on the requirements of your project.

Defining the right scope for your measured survey

Defining the right scope, one that serves the needs of your project, is the first step in the commission of a measured survey. Your architect is the best person to define the scope for your measured survey. They know what they need and what will provide the most relevant information for the design of your renovation or extension.

The proposed scope should relate to the design brief. Partial measuring of a particular area would suit localized repairs and alterations. Maybe your architect is happy to carry out a small, measured survey. 

Hand drawn details with measurememnts
A survey for a whole building or floor plan is better left to a measure survey company. Your architect is better placed to survey historic features related to specific items of your renovation.

In case of extensions, the redesigning of internal layouts or works involving the whole listed building, a complete measured survey by a competent specialist is the best way forward.

Defining the scope of work for a measured survey requires the specification of these main aspects:

  •  the type of drawings (site plan, roof plan, floorplans, sections, or elevations)
  • the amount of detail required (1:50 or 1:100, etc.)
  • the reference point for the levels, indicating the height of elements (either based on the Ordnance Survey or from a specific point on-site, for instance, the ground floor as the 0,00 point)
  • format of the information delivered (pdf, dwg or 3D formats)
Example of a good measured survey
The height of doors and windowsills can make all the difference. Dash lines should indicate dropped elements like hanging beams. 

A measured survey bespoke to your listed building

Nowadays, survey companies can capture high volumes of data through 3D scans. Therefore, the irregularities of old buildings are not an issue. You can obtain a viewer tool to see the different spaces in your building. This tool also allows you to take measurement from the screen. Other elements that might be helpful include:

  • Heights of doors, windowsills
  • indicate the location of the sections, the drawing of the projection beyond and any specific requirements for layers
  • requirements to survey particular areas not immediately apparent (loft spaces, behind hidden doors, etc.)
  • requirements of further recording detail for joinery elements or peculiarities of the listed building
  • annotations of materials

Price - value balance

Not all survey companies will suit your brief, some are dedicated only to massive projects, but many of them are happy to work for homeowners. Requesting a quote from at least three companies provides a good sense of the market prices and offers you more chances to find the best fit.

As part of comparing measured survey companies, you should consider:

  • the lead times proposed
  • their availability to attend the site
  • the number of visits they will require
  • the appropriate accreditations
  • seeing drawings of their previous surveys will give you a sense of what you will get.

Final steps

Your architect should be part of the commission of a measured survey for your listed building. They should prepare the scope and review the documents issued by the third party. Even the best surveyors could miss a level. It is best to highlight issues when the documents are received. But if your architect finds further information missing down the line, they should be able to raise the case with the survey company.

For further advice on how to prepare a good planning application for your listed building, consider reading about the whys and whats of heritage statements or a case study for a back extension in Putney.

Talk to your architect about the type of survey required for your renovation or back extension. If you don’t have an architect yet, feel free to book a free 15min consultation.