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How to start your own surveying business

Being a surveyor is a rewarding career choice. Taking your career to the next level by opening your own business could increase your earning potential and offer even greater job satisfaction. This post will guide you through how to start your own surveying business so you can decide if it's the right move for you.

It’s understandable that you may be thinking about how to start your own surveying business.

The quantity surveyor salary (UK) is around £18,000 – £30,000 (starting salary for a graduate), with senior surveyors earning, on average, £70,000 per year.

As a self-employed quantity surveyor, you’ll have the freedom to choose the hours you work and the type of projects you take on, and have greater control over your future career and earning potential.

With these benefits, starting a surveying business is an exciting avenue to pursue.

However, before you branch out on your own, you should research the ins and outs of how to start your own surveying business.

From insurance, taxes, tools, equipment, marketing, and more, this article will guide you through everything you need to know.

Don’t have the time to read about all of this right now?

Not to worry, our ‘Become the Boss’ series will help you to get your surveying business going in no time.

You’ll receive a series of 8 emails containing actionable tips, advice from people who were once in your position, a free business strategy call, and at the end of it all, you could be the founder of your new business.

Enter your email to get your invaluable business advice:

Creating a business plan for your surveying business

Wondering where to begin with how to start a surveying business? First of all, you should create a business plan. After all, as the saying goes, if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.

A well-considered business plan is what will help your business to grow and develop, and ultimately, ensure success.

It will set out your goals and the steps you need to take in order to achieve them. It will help you to stay organised, work efficiently and productively, and make informed decisions.

If you need financing to start your surveying business, you’ll almost certainly need to produce a business plan.

You can also map out your target audience, your pricing structure, and your area of expertise. If your speciality is assessing commercial risks, for instance, then design your business around this specific service.

Download our free business plan template to help get yours started now:

Other useful skills and attributes

Starting a surveying company will require a range of skills that relate to both your occupation and establishing a start-up.

Not only will you provide a high-quality service, but you’ll also have to successfully run a business yourself. Here are some of the most important attributes you’ll need to step into these shoes:

  • IT proficiency
  • Networking and communication
  • Numeracy and finance skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Construction and building knowledge
  • Analytical thinking
  • High standard of customer service
  • Leadership and management abilities

How to start your own surveying business – step by step

Possessing the skills, tools, and qualifications is only part of the process. Whether you’ve only recently become a building surveyor or if you’ve only just started out with your own business, there are several essential steps to get your professional business up and running.

Register your business

You’ll need to register your service as a business and decide if you want to be recognised as a sole trader or run the business as a limited company.

Each option has its own tax implications and regulations, so take advice from a professional accountant if you’re unsure.

Whichever structure you decide, you’ll need to register your business with HMRC and apply for the necessary tax and national insurance documents.

Get surveyor insurance

Insurance coverage is essential for quantity surveyors.

As the provider of professional service and advice, professional Indemnity Insurance will protect you should you face a claim for negligence or error.

Public liability insurance (PLI) will protect you against claims from third parties for loss or damage as a result of your business activity. All Checkatrade members must hold PLI. As a result, our members receive discounted rates on PLI and exclusive deals on lots more business essentials too!.

Get your business essentials for less

Checkatrade members save om average £470 per year on fuel, insurance, tools, equipment, workwear, and more**

Start saving

Accounting and bookkeeping

To run your business smoothly, make sure you have an understanding of cash-flow management for your income and expenditure. It’s sadly one of the most common reasons for start-ups failing.

Also, note the taxes that are relevant to your business so you can stay on top of any paperwork, file on time, and have the funds available to pay your tax liabilities when due.

Surveying tools and equipment

In order for your service to be efficient and of a high standard, it’s essential to have all the right kit. Keeping a full inventory of top-quality tools is as equally important for client satisfaction as having the right skills and qualifications. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Binoculars (x10 magnification)
  • Ladder
  • Magnetic locators
  • Measuring devices
  • Electronic moisture meter
  • Electronic levels
  • Torch
  • Spirit level
  • Pocket mirror
  • Plumb bob
  • Compass
  • Digital camera
  • Protective clothing
  • Lifting equipment and/or a crow bar
  • Surveying software
  • Abney levels
  • Laser measurers
  • Laser scanners
  • Total stations
  • Additional specialist equipment depending on the services you provide

Get your business essentials for less

Checkatrade members save om average £470 per year on fuel, insurance, tools, equipment, workwear, and more**

Start saving

How to grow your surveying business

  • Building relationships will be very important to the success of your business as a surveyor
  • Word-of-mouth marketing will also play a key role in getting you more work
  • Signwriting your work vehicle is a great way to gain greater visibility

However, one of the most effective ways to promote your business is digital marketing.

How to create an online presence for your surveying business

Digital marketing is an umbrella term for the many different ways you can advertise your business online. Some examples include:

  • Your company website
  • Your company social media channels, such as Facebook and Instagram
  • PPC and SEO
  • A Google Business Profile
  • Presence on online trade directories such as Checkatrade

Save time and money marketing your new surveying business with Checkatrade

With our digital marketing strategy and strong online presence, becoming a Checkatrade member saves you time and money as you build your brand’s trust.

You’ll need to pass our 12 checks to become an approved and guaranteed member, as we only list professionals who meet the high standards homeowners expect.

Once approved, you’ll be recognised as a trusted and guaranteed business with a profile on the Checkatrade site.

You can showcase your skills and qualifications, examples of your work, and reviews from happy customers. Your listing also appears in Google just as a website would.

Membership is tiered, so you can scale up the number of leads you wish to receive if you want more work, and dial it back down when the diary is full.

Signing up to Checkatrade can really boost your profile in the right arena. Not only does it make your business visible to thousands of homeowners every month, but it also vouches for you.

The tick that people trust

It’s the tick people trust: 8 out of 10 people would choose a tradesperson we’ve checked over one we haven’t.*


Are quantity surveyors well paid?

Quantity surveyor salaries vary depending on experience:

  • Entry-level surveyors will earn around £25,000 a year
  • After four or five years of experience, this will increase to around £35,000 per year
  • Senior surveyors who have been plying their trade for over 15 years can earn, on average, around £70,000

Are quantity surveyors in demand?

Due to the large output of construction projects in the UK, quantity surveyors are constantly needed.

Coupled with the fact that there’s a shortage of surveyors, quantity surveying is arguably one of the most in-demand jobs in the UK (and abroad) at the moment.

Will being a quantity surveyor be a lucrative career?

With the current high demand for quantity surveyors, salaries have generally risen for many in the industry. Earnings were already above most national averages, so it can certainly be said that surveying is a well-paid job.

It’s also on the list of ‘desirable skills/in-demand occupations’ for countries such as Australia and South Africa, so if you want a career that can take you places, quantity surveying might just be the ticket.

Starting a surveying business?

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*Claims are sourced from a survey conducted by Deep Blue Thinking on a nationally representative UK sample in November 2021.
**Year runs from April 21’ to March 22’. Spend based on 12,505 members. Discounts differ depending on the partner. Products range from low value items to high value items. Total amount spent on Selco is estimated at £42,380,838 by 7,298 members and based on average savings per member from 2020/21. 10% discount. Some exclusions will apply on products.

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