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START YOUR PROJECT AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON - THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD MEASURED SURVEY

Updated: Jan 13

There’s nothing better than heading out early on the road to kick off a brand new project. At Fisch, we travel to all corners of the UK armed with our trusty survey bag. Even in the depths of winter, it’s a challenge we relish - it’s a fantastic opportunity to get to know another town, another high street and another building.


That’s what we do. We get to know buildings.

So, what is a measured survey?

A measured building survey is a detailed and accurate measurement of a property showing all of the structural and architectural features. The surveyor gathers data and measurements - and unlike estate agents’ plans, these are far more accurate and can therefore be used for construction or legal matters.


It’s the first task before any other work is undertaken on the property, as it forms a baseline for other professionals to produce their detailed designs and reports from. Measured surveys are not the same as Condition Surveys or a Structural Survey, and any responsible property owner or developer will no doubt require those being carried out at the right time if necessary.


Why is it so important to undertake a survey?

To fully understand your building


When transforming a building, whether that be a refurbishment or change of use, you need to understand every aspect of the building and how the spaces work within. It’s equally as crucial to recognise the limitations as well as the potential. And who better to make those key assessments than those designing the project?


There are many specialist survey companies out there - but the benefits of having your designer explore the site themselves ensures they’re an expert in every nook and cranny. A good measured survey is the solid foundation for every building project. Drawn up accurately on CAD, every jigsaw piece of the design can be detailed and co-ordinated to fit like a glove - which will save time and money, avoiding costly changes later in the project cycle. It’s a no brainer.

Measured surveys also have many other uses and benefits. Rarely do we rely on the accuracy of plans provided by third parties without at least a ‘check’ survey - a quicker measure to verify the accuracy of information on pre-drawn plans. It’s always a good idea when a feasibility study is required to establish a project viability. If the scheme doesn’t fit, it’s far better to have paid a few quid to establish this first, rather than be lumbered with acquiring a unit that is too small or too big. Your project may depend on borrowing, so securing finance may also rely on a solid business case aided by accurate drawings and reports.

Measured surveys also have many other uses and benefits. Rarely do we rely on the accuracy of plans provided by third parties without at least a ‘check’ survey - a quicker measure to verify the accuracy of information on pre-drawn plans. It’s always a good idea when a feasibility study is required to establish a project viability. If the scheme doesn’t fit, it’s far better to have paid a few quid to establish this first, rather than be lumbered with acquiring a unit that is too small or too big. Your project may depend on borrowing, so securing finance may also rely on a solid business case aided by accurate drawings and reports.

Often we’re also are asked to survey a client’s existing property simply because there are no drawings. Buildings can be assets or liabilities - planning strategies for individual building stock or across a wider estate is much more effective when you know exactly what you are dealing with.


What does the surveying process involve?


Surveys usually start from the front door in. The survey will include the entire property demise, measuring floor plate room by room, structural beams and columns, changes in levels, ceiling heights, doors and windows, key service points such as utility entry points and drainage.


Added to the list are things like light fittings, fire alarms, data points, floor and wall finishes - especially for refurbishment work, when many of these features will be retained. The drawn output will be plans, external elevations, sections, reflected ceiling plans and whatever else may be required to accurately execute the project.


But even before entering, it’s important to put the site into context. Take a look at the surroundings - there will be pointers as to what restrictions may be imposed by the local planning authority. Consider delivery access or restrictions by looking at street signs and at how the neighbours operate. The fit-out may need to be phased, or Contractors may need to make special provisions - which can be factored into the design early to avoid costly add-ons later.


It is also the responsibility of Designers to reduce risks in the build and future building maintenance under CDM Regulations, which comes of fully understanding both the brief and the building. We take copious photographs inside and out (or even video). You can never take enough photos - remember, they are a dated record should any future disputes arise just as much as they are fantastic survey aid back in the office. Finally, always asses the fire escape provision within the building, as any new design may have to integrate with the existing fire strategy to comply with Building Regulations.


And finally - what’s in the trusty survey bag?


You might want to collect an essential survey kit - or then again, leave it to the experts. The following items are a must:


  • 1 x tape measure, at least a 5M steel.

  • 1 x laser measure with spare batteries.

  • 30M ribbon tape - essential back-up when it’s too bright for lasers.

  • 4 x coloured pens, pencils and eraser.

  • 1 x scale ruler.

  • A clipboard and plenty of paper. Graph paper is useful, especially for ceiling grids.

  • A charged digital camera (with a huge memory card).

  • 1 x torch. Don’t assume the electricity will be on, or that the lights will work.

  • 1 x angle finder. Doesn’t replace the triangulation method, but it’s a great way to double check for odd-shaped rooms.

  • Chalk and cloths for marking and erasing sight lines.

  • 1 x spirit level and plumb bob.

  • Various tools - if nothing else, carry a multi-tool or Swiss Army knife just in case.

  • Light meter. Where lighting is to be retained, average light level readings are often critical.

  • ID. Increasingly site security is paramount, so we always carry our company identification and CSCS card (Construction Skills Certification Scheme).

  • Step ladders or measuring staff.

  • PPE - Hard hat, hi-vis and site boots as a minimum.

  • Warm coat, hat and gloves are particular favourites - especially at this time of year!


If you would like to discuss any survey requirements, don’t hesitate to get in touch for a chat. The bag is packed and we’re always ready to hit the road to embrace any new challenges.



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