Choosing the right kind of surveyor
Unlike the word Doctor, or solicitor, there is no restriction on the word Surveyor. Anyone can call themself a Surveyor !
However, Chartered Surveyors, i. e. members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) are qualified by examination and experience and have to conform to a strict Code of professional conduct. At the present time there are very nearly 105,000 qualified Chartered Surveyors worldwide, all with the letters MRICS (Member of the RICS) or FRICS (Fellow of the RICS) after their names (see below more about this). About 10% of these are based in France.
The RICS has grouped all fully-qualified (i.e. Chartered) Surveyors into 17 areas of expertise, called Professional Groups. Fully-qualified members of the RICS are allowed to join up to four of these Groups to reflect their personal interests.
What isn’t always appreciated, however, is that some (but not all) Chartered Surveyors undergo more rigorous training and testing in order to achieve a Specialist Qualification in their particular field of work – also known as an Alternative Designation.
Only those in the Building Surveying group who have achieved a Specialist Qualification are allowed to use the Alternative Designation of Chartered Building Surveyor.
This is rather like doctors and other professionals with the same letters after their names; they may have quite different specialties and you need to make sure you are dealing with the right one – with the right kind of practical experience.
So What is a Chartered Building Surveyor?
Those who have trained and qualified as Chartered Building Surveyors understand how building materials are best used, how buildings are constructed, how building problems occur – and how they are resolved, how buildings should be repaired and maintained, and so on. These are the specialist surveyors who deal with the “nuts and bolts” of buildings – and building problems.
Anyone can call themself a building surveyor, but only chartered surveyors who are specially qualified are entitled to use the title Chartered Building Surveyor.
At the present time there are about 9,370 qualified Chartered Building Surveyors worldwide: Only 28 are registered in the whole of France.
The designation “FRICS”
This means “Fellow of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors” – which is described by the RICS as follows:
“The letters FRICS represent a prestigious RICS award that reflects the career achievements of a special group of property professionals. Attaining RICS Fellowship is a true mark of distinction.
Only MRICS members who are major achievers in their careers may apply to become a fellow of RICS. They will be leaders in the profession; active people who have completed unique projects or contributed to the profession.”
Check out the Firm and the Surveyor
To check whether a firm is a firm of Chartered Surveyors, go to the RICS directory at www.ricsfirms.com and, in the Find a Surveyor box on the right-hand side, simply type “France” and hit return. You will then see a list of just over 400 firms in France in which there should be at least one Chartered Surveyor.
Lower down on the left-hand side of your screen you can check the “Regulatory Status” of these firms. Click on the tick in the lower of the two boxes (Unregulated firms) and you will be left with a list of less than 70 firms in France which are “Regulated” by RICS.
You can hit the name of the firm or, where given, the “More” box on the right hand side to find the name of the chartered surveyor and, in some cases, their professional designation.
You can check whether a surveyor is qualified as a Chartered Building Surveyor by going to the RICS global directory at www.rics.org/uk/find-a-member Enter the first name and the last name of the surveyor; don’t enter anything in the two other boxes but simply hit the Search button. Here you will see the name of the surveyor and their level of membership (MRICS or FRICS). Click on the surveyor’s name for more information, such as the date they qualified and to see whether they are designated as a Chartered Building Surveyor.
Is the Surveyor registered in France?
Every business based in France is required by law to be registered with the French authorities and must have what is called a SIRET number. This number, and the address of the business, must appear on all business letters, emails and leaflets, as well as on the business web site. You can check whether a business is based in France by going to www.infogreffe.fr and simply typing in the name of the firm or individual.