You may have seen my LinkedIn post the other day expressing sheer delight after reading a really great survey. It got me thinking that while I review surveys and valuations with the aim of providing constructive feedback for improvement, I actively get a lot of joy providing positive feedback to surveyors about the things they are doing really well!
With that in mind, I wanted to share three things that the survey I refer to did so well - so well in fact that it made me share a Zootropolis gif of a sloth!
There is nothing worse than buying a piece of furniture you need to assemble, only to read the instructions and find:
a) the pictures don't really relate to what you're seeing.
b) the text doesn't make sense and you need someone else to help decipher them.
c) you need to be a fully fledged carpenter to make sense of any jargon.
This survey avoided these common pitfalls and managed to achieve real clarity. All pictures within the survey clearly conveyed aspects written within the text. They were annotated clearly and the captions further illustrated what the image was there to show. In other words, the pictures supplemented the survey, rather than acted as an 'add-on' or replacement to the text.
I find that surveys and/or valuations can sometimes be difficult to decipher. For example, sometimes you can be left with questions like; which wall do you mean? Which damp section are you referring to? Which window is broken?
This survey managed to clearly articulate the location of elements and their related defects. The surveyor was specific and logical in what they wrote; it was clear to the reader where they would find the problem and the reader wouldn't have to make guesses based on inadequate identification.
The survey used accessible language, and where needed, explained terms plainly and if appropriate, used images to convey information. Ultimately, you didn't have to be a surveyor, engineer or a member of another profession within the built environment to understand the product and service you had paid for.
How well do you know the parameters of your service? I can tell you now that this surveyor clearly understood the level of survey they were providing and what that meant in terms of the service they needed to deliver.
Re-reading terms and conditions is a really good way to remind yourself of the expectations a client purchasing a survey has. A number of the surveys I read either go beyond the level of service required or on occasion fall short.
This survey used formatting clearly to align themselves to the parameters of the survey and it made for a great reading experience - it provided the client with everything they needed to know (and had paid for!).
Surveys are not just assessments of buildings, they are a way of painting a picture of a property in the mind of a client - they provide context. That's why 'pre-flight checks' are so important. While surveys identify defects, they also consider a property in the context of its surroundings. This is where local knowledge, expertise and understanding of the 'big picture' really plays its part. Whether you are talking about mundic, bungaroosh, landfill sites, flood zones or Radon etc. you must effectively convey information that is useful to the reader and support them to make the right decision for their needs.
The survey was a joy to read, not just because it did 'what it said it would' or because it provided clarity on the property; the survey took account of the environment in which the property was located and conveyed to the reader what this might mean for them. It didn't make judgements on perception of an issue, but rather gave factual insights.
Additionally, context throughout a survey doesn't just mean being clear on a location of a defect - as stated, it is about the bigger picture. Therefore, where cross-referencing would benefit, do it! It doesn't take much, but can make all the difference to a reader who wants to refer back to issues that are connected (which they so often are). This survey did just that and it worked wonders.
The point is, that if a survey delights a survey vetter (me!), it will surely delight a client that will remember you the next time houses and surveys crop up in conversation.
Great surveys mean happy clients! If you can deliver a survey that includes the above, you will have more chance of gaining a client for life and that's even better!