Find answers to the questions we get asked the most

We have done our best to include definitions of all acronyms and unusual terms throughout these FAQs; however, you might find it useful to download our ‘Jargon Buster’ if you come across a term you do not understand. Click here to view the document.

How do I complete my portfolio of evidence? Where do I find the work to build a portfolio?

Portfolios are to be completed on our online portfolio system, OneFile. To complete your assessment, you will be presented with a number of tasks in your portfolio. Each task will need to be completed and signed off one at a time to ensure any errors are not repeated in subsequent tasks.

Tasks will consist of written questions, reflective essays, method statements and condition/valuation reports. To build your portfolio, one residential property will be supplied to you on the course for you to inspect. You will then need to source nine properties of your own to inspect in order to produce reports. These could include your neighbours’ houses, family properties and even your own.

If you can, you will also benefit from working in association with a Chartered Surveyor. They can fill in the gaps in the practical areas that it would be unrealistic to expect from any academic course.

Is there a time limit for studying the Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation?

When studying for the diploma you will attend a set number of training days over 12 months to cement your technical knowledge and skills. After this, you will enter into an assessment period to complete your portfolio of evidence for assessment. Your portfolio must be completed within a 12-month window. The Diploma should, therefore, take no longer than 24 in total months to complete.

Do I need to buy learning materials?

You will need to bring the following equipment with you on the training days:

  • Coloured pens
  • Paper

You will also need to ensure that you have the following equipment to hand when attending inspection days.

Equipment For Inspection Days
Binoculars Magnet
Camera Compass
Back-up camera/power pack Wet weather gear (umbrella, Wellington boots etc).
Measuring devices Disposable masks
Electronic moisture meter Latex gloves
Torch Hand cleaning wipes
Lifting equipment/crow bar First aid kit
Spirit level Personal alarm/mobile phone
Pocket mirror Plumb bob
Marble or golf ball Meter box key (cruciform type)

We will provide all other training material you need such as books and handouts.

Will I be able to carry out Commercial Valuations?

This qualification will not permit you to undertake valuations for commercial properties. However, AssocRICS membership is a good stepping stone to achieving full membership.

What is the importance of the RICS Red Book?

The Red Book contains the Professional Valuation Standards for all surveyors, containing rules and best practice guidance to ensure valuations are undertaken correctly. This information is therefore critical to any training course relating to Valuation, so the relevant parts are covered in some detail on the course. The Red Book refers to Competency levels. RICS split these into three and each level requires certain competencies to be achieved at both Associate and full member level. The course is aimed at giving you Associate level membership, which is mainly level 2. This is sufficient to undertake residential valuations for the vast majority of clients.

What sort of fees can I expect from a Home Condition Survey?

As an accreditation scheme, we do not set fees or have a recommended fee scale; this would be down to the individual surveyor and the market in which he or she operates. However, we are aware of fee levels ranging from approximately £300 for a smaller house or flat, to over £600 and even more for a larger or more valuable property.

As a qualified Residential Surveyor, how long does it take to complete a Home Condition Survey?

This will be dependent on the size of the property, but for a 3 bed semi detached property, an experienced surveyor may spend 2 ½ to 3 hours on site , and additional time to do any background research into matters that might affect the property and to write-up of the report, plus of course travel time.

How can I find surveying work?

There are a number of options:

  • Via your own contacts (estate agents or conveyancers)
  • By joining a surveyor panel e.g. RPSA surveying panel
  • By joining a surveying firm
  • By providing the Home Condition Survey to home buyers on a self-employed basis

Often, members of the public will be searching for you and there are a number of ways they can do this:



How likely am I to get work once qualified in Residential Surveying and Valuation? What is the market like?

The demand for surveys and valuations is currently stretching the available resource of qualified professionals. This means that there’s a need for more qualified professionals. This really is a great time to undertake a professional qualification and join the industry.

It is important to note that if you wish to undertake mortgage valuations it is a realistic expectation that you will have to work through a lender panel. Most lenders require a practice to have a minimum of two parters/directors, so a sole practitioner is unlikely to get onto a panel. However, that does not prevent you working in association with an existing panel firm and of course there are other valuations other than mortgage valuations – although that is where the volumes lie.

What is the SAVA Scheme and how exactly does your insurance work?

When you work in a demanding role, it’s good to know you can get expert support and advice as well as many free business support services. The SAVA Scheme membership is available to residential surveyors who hold the Home Inspector Diploma, the new Diploma in Residential Surveying or the Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation in order that they can produce Home Condition Surveys (HCS).

The SAVA Scheme builds upon SAVA’s reputation as a champion of residential property surveying standards. Our checks and quality assurance procedures are thorough and guarantee consumer confidence in Home Condition Surveys.

Being part of the SAVA Scheme will give you the knowledge and support to help you, your career and your business to grow:

  • Comprehensive Insurance – You can use the comprehensive Professional Indemnity and Public Liability Insurance arranged by us for all reports registered with the scheme, so there is no need to carry your own cover for producing a HCS. The premium is paid on each and every report you lodge with us and is included in the lodgement fee.
  • Easy to use software – Our easy to use, industry leading report writing software is available 24/7 on the NES one portal and is supported by a library of free factsheets that you can add to the report to add value for your client.
  • Business support – You will benefit from our promotion of your services to potential clients, networking support and other business assistance.
  • Technical Bulletins – You will receive regular copies of our SAVA Technical Bulletins keeping you up-to-date on Home Condition surveying developments, associated issues and tips on using our software.
  • CPD support – You will be given full CPD support and advice, including reduced rates on NES training courses.
  • Online storage – You will be able to upload inspection records, photos and other information and store it in a secure area with full daily backups. This simplifies audit and complaint investigation procedures and is in addition to your own record keeping requirements.
  • Monitoring and compliance support – You will be supported throughout our monitoring and compliance checks, secure in the knowledge that your surveys are of the highest quality so customers can act with confidence on the recommendations contained within them.
  • Marketing and branding support – We can provide a range of marketing material at cost, logos for use on websites and stationery, and other branded items
How does a Home Condition Survey differ from a Building Survey?

The Home Condition Survey (HCS) is a standard format survey report with standard terms of engagement. The inspection is non-invasive and tells the client about the condition of the property by applying a condition rating 1, 2 or 3, to each part of the property and explaining why such condition rating has been applied. The HCS does not give the client any advice on how to remedy any problems identified. The condition ratings for the SAVA format must be applied by following the SAVA protocol. This way the survey is as consistent from one property to the next as it can be.

Building surveys tend to vary from one surveyor to another. To the best of our knowledge there is no consistent building survey format, though guidance on how to produce one is published by various bodies, including RICS. The fundamental difference between this type of survey and the HCS is that it will usually give the client ‘advice’ on how to remedy a defect.

Do I have to be a RICS Registered Valuer to complete valuations?

Yes, if you wish to carry out valuations in accordance with the RICS Red Book you will need to become a RICS Registered Valuer. Valuer registration is an independent system of regulatory monitoring. Monitoring by RICS begins as soon as members sign up and is in place to ensure valuations are carried out correctly and fairly in accordance with the standards outlined in the RICS Red Book. Details on how to become a Registered Valuer can be found here.

As a qualified Residential Surveyor and Valuer, how long does it take to complete a valuation report?

This will vary and will be largely dependent on the size of the property and the comparable valuation evidence available. For a typical 3 bed semi-detached property, valuers will need to carry out preliminary desktop study, followed by a site visit and then will have to source and record comparables and prepare the report.

Who are BlueBox partners and why is that important to me?

BlueBox partners provide support services to the residential surveying industry and have partnered with SAVA to develop the curriculum for the Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation.

BlueBox partners have a team that have exceptional training and coaching skills which is why we are continuing our partnership with them to deliver the training you will undertake.
The BlueBox team is made up of experienced Chartered Surveyors who have many years in the valuation and surveying industries and are well known in the sector. Between them, the directors at BlueBox partners have written a number of technical books and developed a variety of training courses that aim to enhance your knowledge and expertise.

In addition, they have a unique combination of “on the tools” skills and training and assessment experience. By partnering with BlueBox partners we are committing to ensuring that new surveyors have the right combination of academic and practical skills essential for a successful career.

What fees are associated with joining RICS?

Once you have completed the Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation, you will be eligible for direct entry into RICS as an Associate member. Your membership is subject to an enrolment fee of £250 and an annual subscription fee (£278 as of 2015), once you have passed the RICS ethics module (a test all applicants must pass before gaining membership). Concessions are also available dependent on your situation. For more information, please click here to be directed to the RICS website.

What is AssocRICS and how does it differ from MRICS and FRICS?

Qualified RICS members are recognised by these designatory letters that are awarded on a combination of qualifications and experience:

  • Associate members may use “AssocRICS” after their names (previously members at this level were known as Technical Members and used the designation “TechRICS”). [2]
  • Professional Members may use “MRICS” after their names (previously members at this level were known as Professional Associates and used the designation “ARICS”).
  • Fellows may use “FRICS” after their names.

The designatory letters after your name demonstrate where you are in your career. As your career progresses, you can apply to upgrade your membership to ensure it always reflects your current position.

Professional Members and Fellows of RICS are entitled to use the designation “Chartered Surveyor” and variations such as “Chartered Building Surveyor” or “Chartered Quantity Surveyor”, depending on their route of entry to the profession. Fellows are leaders in their field, people who have undertaken notable projects or made a special contribution to the profession. Only professional members who are major achievers in their careers may apply.

AssocRICS members are unable to describe themselves as “Chartered Surveyors” but are able to offer RICS products.

Once an Associate member, it is then possible to begin working your way up to Chartered status.

If I do this qualification, can I also offer EPCs?

Unlike the old Home Inspector Diploma, this qualification does not include full RdSAP training and therefore will not enable you to complete Energy Performance Certificates if you are not already a Domestic Energy Assessor or Home Inspector. You can choose to undertake an additional course at the end of your qualification to enable you to offer EPCs as well.

Will I have to come to Milton Keynes to do the training?

Due to popular demand we have now launched training venues in The North and London. You have the choice of Milton Keynes, Surrey, Manchester and Birmingham. We have tried to develop a training schedule with a balance of face-to-face and distance learning to suit those who are not local to our training facilities. However, these training days are a fundamental part of the course and attendance is mandatory.

How long will it take me to qualify?

We anticipate that it is possible to complete the qualification in 18-24 months, but it is dependent on your entry route and when you are able to set aside time to complete your assessment portfolio. The main factor affecting how long it will take to complete the qualification is the time you set aside to complete your assessment portfolio, so we advise that you plan your diary and schedule carefully and in advance in order to complete the qualification in the quickest time.

How does the training and assessment work?

Training modules are held over a number of months and are dependent on your entry route (please see the course prospectus for full details). You will be expected to attend a number of face-to-face training days over approximately 12 months. All modules consist of pre-course tasks, face-to-face training and supplementary learning in the form of online modules, webinars and further reading.

Once your training has been completed then you will be assessed on your knowledge and practical skills. This involves completing a portfolio of evidence including: Home Condition Surveys, valuation reports and written work such as method statements and reflective accounts.

Are there any exemptions if I am already working in the field?

Exemptions are considered for those who have have demonstrable knowledge of construction and building pathology. For full details, please see the course prospectus.

How do I study for the qualification?

You will need to join the entry route that is appropriate to your situation. Industry experience is taken into account and exemptions may be given. To view the particulars for each entry route including modules, dates and prices, please download the course prospectus.

What is the qualification?

The Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation will start you on the path to a successful surveying and valuation career. Whether you’re starting out, already working in the industry or looking to gain new skills to change your career this new route into the profession covers everything that a professional surveyor and valuer needs to know. It also gives you direct entry to RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) as an Associate member (AssocRICS) upon completion of the RICS ethics module.

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