Similar to our "What should a topographic survey include?" article, the first question we will ask clients when determining what to include in their measured building survey is “What is the purpose of the survey?”. This helps shape the rest of the survey and helps us put together a checklist for when we are out in the field to make sure nothing is left out.
As with other surveying projects, a lot of the structural survey is done before a surveyor is out in the field. This requires working closely with clients to provide them with the best survey possible. Communication is key to the success of all surveying projects. Often we only get one chance to do a survey so gathering all the data the first time is crucial to the success of the project, this is where the building survey checklist helps.
The same property could be surveyed twice and produce two different surveys depending on what the clients need. For example, a property owner might just want a simple floor plan for their building, whereas an architect might need a 3D Revit survey with point cloud data. So figuring out the type of data that needs to be gathered is one of the first things we ask when meeting with a client.
Another question is, does this survey require more than one type of survey? Even if a measured building survey is the main survey, sometimes a topographic survey or an aerial survey drone may also need to be undertaken to gather data about the property around the building or about parts of the building that are inaccessible like the roof.
The most basic survey will include a measurement of all the overall structure in the most basic form. This would include internal roof and ceiling structures, beams, floors, walls, windows, columns, doors, and stairs. This helps to determine a floor plan which shows access points and what a structure at its minimum you’re working with.
Heights are also generally included in a measured building survey. This includes arch heights, floor levels, beam heights, ceiling heights, and ground floor levels. Heights are important because they will affect the outcome of planning, and will help determine whether or not plans are viable.
Changes in floor level may also be included depending on what the survey is used for as well as any partitions that exist. This would be included when planning for structural changes would be made.
Features such as WCs, sinks, and basins, and Inspection chambers are generally included because they are permanent fixtures. While they can be moved, if structural changes are being made, they must be taken into account in the planning process.
Sometimes the internal roof space and the external features of the roof is included but only if required. Surveying a roof is a more difficult and dangerous task that requires additional planning and access so is not included in standard measured building surveys.
As surveying equipment doesn’t have x-ray powers, it can only measure features that are visible. If there are features that will be obscured by coverings, furniture, fixtures and fittings, planning for this must be made in advance by the client so that they can be included in the survey if desired.