Alex Coppock

Why every project needs to start with a survey

by 20th Oct, 2014

When you’re planning a building project, the first thing you need to know is what you’ve got to work with. To get this information you will need a measured survey of your building as it is at the moment. From the survey you can create a set of drawings that will help you at every stage of the process:

Step 1 - Design and Planning Permission

In the ideas stage

The survey gives you what you need to design a building that works in practical terms (for example, because you know where the drains are, you can take these into account, saving time and money later on) and in aesthetic terms (for example, because you know your home’s aspect, you can make the most of the sun’s progress through the sky to fill your home with light).

In the planning stage

Plan view of a house

The survey helps you during the planning stages because you have the drawings you need to submit as part of the planning application. It also helps you develop a solution that takes into account the possible concerns of your neighbours and removes any reasonable grounds for objection.

In the costing stage

The survey drawings are vital for builders to enable them to draw up accurate quotes during the tendering process.

Polaroid style photo of a modern house

In the build stage

They are also vital for the build stage: because you have worked from detailed and accurate drawings right from the start, there will be fewer nasty (and costly) surprises on site.

In the future

You will also find that having a full set of survey drawings will be extremely useful once your building is finished and in use. You will be able to use them if you decide to plan further building work in the future. They will also be useful if you decide to sell your property.

On smaller projects such as a home extension you tend to find that your architect will include the survey as part of the overall project. (We have an in-house surveyor, Mel Coppock, who carries out surveys like these.) On larger or more complex projects such as listed buildings an outside contractor will typically be appointed. We put such surveys out to tender to ensure we deliver you the best value.

What information does the survey cover?

The survey provides you with detailed measurements of the space and how it fits together. Inside the house, the process can involve taking detailed measurements of:

  • rooms (including the locations of windows, doors, beams, fireplaces etc)
  • windows and doors
  • ceiling heights
  • floor heights in relation to other floors and the outside
  • wall thicknesses
  • establishing where water, drains, electricity and gas enter the house.

Outside your house the work involves:

  • measuring the exterior footprint of your house
  • measuring any outbuildings
  • measuring the plot and marking the location of your house and any outbuildings in it
  • working out the house’s aspect
  • taking note of the location of neighbouring properties
  • taking multiple photos.

Once all this information has been compiled, detailed drawings showing your house’s internal floor plans, external elevations and site can be prepared.

You then have the information you need to start committing your project’s design to paper and developing the vision for your new space!