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How much does a Measured House Survey in London cost?

An architect approached me to get a quote for 2 two-bedroom flats, and I offered £530+VAT per flat with 2D deliverables in DWG and PDF formats.

In response, I received an email stating, "It’s a little on the high side compared to a couple of other quotes I’ve had, around £350 ex VAT. See what you can do?"

My response: I can write a blog post as this is a very interesting topic, and I trust that many of you will have the same question.

So, what if I tell you that you can get Measured House Surveys for even less than £350+VAT?

Or, what if I share a message from another client of ours and explain why they said this: "The plan you provided me was based on SpaceSurvey measurement (£1545.00 inc VAT)." "I think SpaceSurvey input has not only added no value, but has in this case cost me time and money." "If you can refund me SpaceSurvey's fee, I think that is a fair compromise."

Now that we know what this blog post will be about, "The pricing for measured house surveys in London," I want to set the expectations right. So, let's explore the different scenarios.

But first, I have to admit that I completely understand this offer from my client of £350+VAT, and I am also completely happy if this work goes to someone else as we are busy right now. And this is a strong argument that people are willing to pay the price we give in our proposals.

And now, you're probably asking why pay more if you can pay less, and why do others charge less? What is the difference, what is the right price, and how can I reduce the cost of house surveys? And why did we charge £1545+VAT and why did the other client complained?

First our minimum project cost is £500+VAT, and I will explain why.

If someone spends a day on travel and site visits and two days on doing the drawings, it is £350+VAT / 3 days of work.

This works out to be £116 a day - Travel expenses - Equipment - Subscriptions.

The leftover is still - 20% tax, and the day's wages are about the same as a barista is earning in Costa Coffee. Just baristas don't have to worry if they will have work next week or spend money on insurance, and don't have to take any responsibility. Also, a barista is earning holidays when this surveyor is not; he only earns when he works. In this math, he should also save and accumulate for his holidays and cover his tools' costs.

Although many still use Laser measurement (£60) and pencil and eraser for data collection and notes, and this is how we also started, this method comes with lots of assumptions, brick counting, missing measurements, and revisits, while laser scanners cost into the tens of thousands but save time, increase accuracy, and eliminate revisits, and this is the advantage.

This surveyor, if he has not lined up the next jobs, has to divide his earned money to maybe 5 days if he has 1 job a week, and this makes the math behind it even worse, and this is just one of the options.

So let's look at another option, if they have a lot of work due to low prices, they may be running busy and do surveys all day long at daytime and work on the drawings late evenings and at night. They earn money but have no joy in life as they have no time for life; they are making money. They do it all themselves and work 6-7 days a week around 12-14 hours a day. But with this in the long term, their health and relationships will suffer. I have been there, trust me. I had a panic attack, gained bad weight, and lost the joy that eventually led to a breakup in my relationship, and at that point, I lost all the motivation and drive. This option also is not worth the price for me as a surveyor or business owner, but for clients, it was great but I was just killing my self.

The only option left in this low-priced work, where there are very little or thin profit margins, is to free the time by outsourcing the work, for example, to India, and getting the evenings and weekends back. However, due to low-profit margins, to make it work, it must be a quick transaction and with minimal effort. As I have also tried this, I can say from my own experience that the outsourcing team will send back projects about 80% correct and the 20% will be either wrong or need additional work. And then it comes down to quality control.

But this takes emotional capacity and time that is not included in the price and is neither requested nor needed by the client. Remember the question is can you lower the price; the question is not do you have quality control in place?

The work is simply passed to the client, and if the client doesn't say anything, then all is ok, job done, and this works, and prices can be further reduced to get more jobs as the surveyor needs to cover only his time of travel and site visit, the rest is not his business, and let's say even £300 is ok for a day's job, would you agree?

From this, the surveyor pays £50 - £100 to the team in India.

In the last example, if the client says something, the surveyor just copies and pastes this to the outsourcing team; they make the changes that the client has asked for, and the client eventually becomes the Quality Control person.

But to do proper quality control, the client needs to visit the site and do a cross-check, as without a site visit or scan data, how would anyone know that this is not correct if logically it looks ok, only if it is an obvious mistake then this can logically be figured out at times.

But if the client (Interior designer / Architect) also wants to just get the work done, he will just work with what's provided and not bother a lot, as for planning, you only need the plans to look good; no one will check anything, and in this case, this works.

But in the long term, if the client is an architect not the end customer he will not know where the plans my be used after the planning is granted, they my go to some interior designer, builders etc... and if these plans goes to construction, these inaccuracies can delay a project and cause losses and a bad name to the Architect.

Case Study of a Real Project Gone Wrong in 2023:

The client needed work to be done for a Planning Application related to windows and doors.

See the email below that I received regarding one of the projects we completed as-built drawings for. The client needed 1 Floor Plan, 9 external elevations, and 19 sections of every door and window for the Planning Application with increased detail. The cost, including VAT, was £1,545.00.

Architect than instructed some interior designers X who did the proposed design. It was an outsourcing company X who as mentioned did 80% right and 20% was not good, and I would assume that this interior design team was selected by there pricing as the quality of work you will see for your self in the video below. And as mentioned the client did no do any quality control but passed this to his client and here it all started.....

We received the kitchen today and unfortunately, it doesn’t fit.

The kitchen was ordered off the attached plan. (Issue in Proposed plans done by Company X)

The main issue is that the wall below has been measured at 3.5m

Whereas it is actually 3.39m.

This was one of the few walls in the flat which hasn’t been changed from pre to post work.

This is going to cause me a big issue as I am going to have to need to redesign the kitchen and purchase new wall and base units.

This is also going to remove any chance of having the kitchen in before the holidays.

There are 2 other issues on the plans which we were made aware of months ago, however hadn’t raised with you:

These walls are not on the same line:

This window is located further over to the right.

This one resulted in a new shower tray and door needing to be ordered.

I would have expected the laser measure to have pick this up.

Please take a look at this and let me know your position on. I am going to need some form or reimbursement for the fees I paid.

While we conducted the original survey, the new design was completed by an outsourcing Company X without proper quality control. As a result, approximately 80% of the work is accurate, but the remaining 20% contains errors. This situation has necessitated redesigning the kitchen, causing delays, financial losses, and frustration.

The plan you provided me was based off SpaceSurvey measurement (£1545.00 inc VAT).

I do appreciate that error can occur, however on 3 different areas in a 2 bedroom flat. That’s too greater error. In any event I would have expected there to be some form of check to avoid the exact situation that has occurred.

This kitchen error is going to cost thousands to rectify in new units, and full redesign not to mention prevent having the kitchen in before the holidays. That means I can’t put the worktop in before that time and this whole thing now moves to the new year.

I am also at the mercy of having to reorder units from the kitchen supplier so I am looking at weeks delay. I think SpaceSurvey input has not only added no value, but has in this case cost me time and money.

I don’t want to fall out over this which is why I didn’t raise the other issues months back. But getting this much error on a straight wall that has remained the same length shouldn’t have happened.

If you can refund me SpaceSurveys fee I think that is a fair compromise.

As we've seen in the video above, the new design was poorly made by outsourcing company X, which the client used, causing his client financial loss and loss of time. Although I understand that this decision saved him time and money, and this new design was probably created for a lower price than it would cost him to do it himself or hire experts to do it.

Although the errors were not in the as-built drawings but the new design, we can see that if Company X would take the time and follow the correctly done as-built drawings, and the client would do a quality check, they would avoid this mistake.

And on the other hand, what would be the scenario if the original measured survey would have some mistakes and the company X would do a great job, the result would be the same: mistakes, delays, lost time, and money.

Not to mention if both the as-built drawings and proposed design would have no quality control, in this case not much will change as bad is bad and even if it's getting super bad it's still the same: delays, losses, and frustration.

So if the end goal is low-priced work than the objectives are reached, and in planning, this will work. As plans for planning are just an illustration of what was and what will be, but just because these plans are used for planning application this does not mean that they are correct, so yes you can get plans for a lower price done to achieve your objectives where accuracy is not a priority and you don't need to pay for that extra accuracy as it takes time and costs more.

If quality is important then the only alternative is to have quality control in place for both the existing and proposed.

And this comes at a cost in time and money, but this way you can ensure that work will not only pass planning but can also be used for interior design, construction, building regulations, etc.

So if you know that accuracy is not important and only planning is what you're after than the quality is not important as planning departments will not come and cross-check the measurements. In this case, cheaper plans can be a better option, but everyone must be aware that these are not to be used for further work. For that, another more accurate plan may be required.

We provide plans that will work for all uses and simply don't get involved in low-price, low-quality plans. When not everyone's expectations are on the same line, it just leads to frustration for all parties involved.

Such clients will also go for the next low price team in hope that it will change the above, but will end up in the same place, the surveyor will again look for new clients and as he doesn't have a lot of work will again compete in low price offers, possibly while renting a room in London and dreaming about how one day he would be able to create a family and provide for their wife and kids or afford the life he dreams about.

This surveyor or architect will also know that from this room that he is renting he can't achieve this. This will lead him to hate his work and his clients will notice this frustration. That is caused by not being able to see growth and future in his work despite the many years and money he has spent in education he works for less than a security man who actually is just checking Instagram and reading newspapers all day and requires no education.

He is demotivated, and with that, he stops providing services; it is just a question of when, or continues doing it with dissatisfaction just because he has responsibilities and bills to pay.

And his clients also do not value his work because as soon as someone else comes with a lower offer, they go to the next one.

Doing low-priced works is where we start when we learn; we did the same, and there is a time and place for this, but our aim should be to grow in expertise and quality. We can't sell value for a low price; if you sell £100 for £50, how much does the £100 cost, and with this, can you see any growth?

When things of value lose their value, we also don't want to invest our time, money, or energy in this; this is simply a bad investment.

It all starts with the individual, the surveyor, or the architect, and setting their boundaries.

I'd rather focus on educating our clients through posts like this than spend the same time earning £350+VAT because we will be able to help our clients better. Our clients are also happy to pay for our work £1000+VAT because they understand the value.

£350+VAT simply is not worth our time and in fact, I hope that this blog post will scare people away from us. So that I don't have to waste time providing quotes for work that will never take place.

I'd rather continue working with people who understand the value but only because I have freed my time to explain it to them.

When we start to see the value in something, we quickly find the time, the money, the energy. In fact, time, money, or energy becomes a non-issue when profits and worth are identified.


Peter Bauman


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