What Surveys Do I Need on an Existing Building?

What Surveys Do I Need on an Existing Building?

Taking on any type of building project can feel like a daunting task. You may be wondering how to hire an architect, or whether your house could achieve whole life zero carbon. One question at the top of any prospective client’s list is what type of surveys might I need?

The below outlines some of the common types of surveys you might need when working with existing buildings.

Early Stages

Measured / Topographical Survey

Estate agent plans can be inaccurate and to ensure that a design can be developed accurately and to scale, we recommend a full measured survey of any surrounding grounds relevant to the project.

Building condition survey

Sometimes known simply as a building survey, this report will look at the condition of key aspects of the building fabric. This is a good way of understanding exactly what the current floor, wall and roof build-ups are and identifying areas of the building which may require an upgrade or maintenance.

Structural survey

Undertaken by a structural engineer, this survey is used to determine which elements of the building are serving a structural purpose and what kind of condition these are in. This is particularly helpful where significant interior changes such as knocking through walls or remodeling are envisioned.

Drainage utilities search

A desktop search should identify which pipes are owned by the water company and to what extent, and indicate whether or not a build-over agreement may be required.

View of U-Build extension of an existing house
Studio Bark members attending a site visit

Mid Stages

Asbestos demolition + refurbishment survey

Asbestos is a dangerous and unfortunately common material found in existing buildings. Any building constructed before the year 2000 which is having work done to the existing fabric in some way should be subject to an asbestos survey.

Drainage CCTV survey

A CCTV survey is used in order to accurately plot location of existing drainage runs and to inspect their condition.

Party Wall inspection / schedule of condition

Inspection of the site and condition of existing boundary walls, typically required where there is a party wall or party fence for which an agreement is needed.

Trial pits / ground condition survey

Typically instructed by the structural engineer in order to design foundations suited to the specific ground conditions of a site.

Airtightness test

This may be undertaken before construction at client discretion in order to understand a baseline or starting point to ascertain the degree of improvement for a retrofit. For a passivhaus project, a mid-build test is needed prior to final fix and finishes. More typically an air leakage test is conducted at the conclusion of construction.

Ecological appraisal

This appraisal can help understand if there are any sensitive ecological factors to the site.

Arboricultural (tree) survey

This will look at the condition, ecological value and root protection areas of existing trees on site.

Phase 1 contamination survey

This desktop-based study is used to identify whether land contamination is likely to be an issue on site.

More information

Studio Bark create high quality, sensitive designs that raise awareness and inspires change. Our pioneering approach improves the life of people, the community and our relationship with the planet.

Explore our projects.

Kitchen extension with natural light through the doors

Related Projects