Building Surveyor Kairūri Whare

Building surveyors inspect plans and building constructions to see if buildings are, or will be, built correctly. They may also issue certificates, write reports and help owners and potential buyers with construction problems and solutions.

Building surveyors can apply to become accredited or registered through the Building Officials Institute of New Zealand, the New Zealand Institute of Building Inspectors, or the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors.

Building surveyors may do some or all of the following:

  • inspect plans and/or building constructions to see if buildings are, or will be, built correctly
  • check for problems such as presence of asbestos, methamphetamine (P), damp or mould
  • discuss building work and regulations with builders, architects, owners and property buyers
  • assess and report on problems or potential problems with the design, location or materials of buildings
  • advise on solutions for existing or potential problems with land or buildings
  • assess building conditions for property owners or potential owners, banks and insurance companies, and provide them with specialist reports
  • help resolve building disputes, or administer construction contracts.

Building control officers who work for councils may also:

  • process building consent applications
  • check that buildings comply with approved plans, and relevant laws and regulations such as the Building Act 2004
  • issue relevant notices or certificates, depending on whether the building meets requirements or not.

To work in building control for a council

Building control processing for a council

This office-based work, checking plans and issuing building consents, usually requires:

  • at least three to four years' work experience in relevant work such as architecture or drafting
  • a relevant qualification such as a diploma or Bachelor's degree in architecture or architectural drafting.

Building control inspection for a council

This site-based work, checking construction, usually requires:

  • ten to 20 years' work experience in building
  • a relevant qualification such as a diploma or Bachelor's degree in fields such as building science, construction, architecture or engineering.

On-the-job qualifications for building control officers

Building control officers can study for the New Zealand Diploma in Building Surveying (Level 6), offered by The Skills Organisation, while they are working. This qualification is replacing the current:

  • National Diploma in Building Control Surveying - Small Buildings (Level 5)
  • National Diploma in Building Control Surveying - Medium and Large Buildings (Level 6).

Auckland Council's programme for graduates to become building inspectors

Auckland Council trains graduates in architecture, construction management or civil engineering to become building inspectors.

Physical Requirements

Building surveyors visiting construction sites need to be reasonably fit and healthy, as they need to climb to access roofs, and to crawl under buildings.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for building surveyors includes:

  • hands-on work in construction such as carpentry or plumbing
  • work in quantity surveying, architecture or engineering.

Personal Qualities

Building surveyors need to be:

  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • efficient and good at record-keeping
  • confident communicators with strong relationship and negotiation skills
  • able to translate building jargon into easily understood terms
  • responsible, with good judgement.

Skills

Building surveyors need to have knowledge of:

  • the Building Act 2004 and regulations, the Building Code and other related laws, and how these apply to plans and buildings
  • building methods and materials, including those used in the past
  • how to interpret drawings and architectural plans
  • maths, for calculations such as insulation, stormwater or bracing requirements
  • health and safety guidelines, particularly when working on building sites
  • how to use online reporting tools and inspection tools such as moisture meters.

Conditions

Building surveyors:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may need to work evenings or weekends
  • work in offices, on construction sites, and in buildings, including damaged buildings
  • work in conditions that may be dusty, dirty and hazardous, and may work at heights and in enclosed spaces
  • may have to travel to isolated sites.

Subject Recommendations

A minimum of four years of secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include English, maths, physics, construction and mechanical technologies, and digital technologies.

Building Surveyors can earn around $50K-$65K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Building Surveyor are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for building surveyors depends on their experience, where they work, and what type of work they do.

  • New building surveyors usually start on $50,000 to $65,000 a year, depending on their experience in the construction industry. 
  • Experienced building surveyors can earn up to $100,000. 
  • Managers of teams, or those who own their own business, can earn between $90,000 and $160,000. 

Private building surveyors may earn significantly more than this, but for those who are self-employed income depends on the success of their business.

Source: Hays, '2017 Hays Salary Guide', 2017.

Building surveyors may become self-employed or move into management.

If they work for a city or district council as a building control officer, they may specialise in: 

  • building control processing – receiving and processing building consents and reviewing plans
  • building control inspection – carrying out on-site inspections to make sure buildings are built correctly.

Years Of Training

To become a building surveyor you need three to 10 years' relevant work experience, and/or a building-related diploma or degree.

If your role involves site inspections you need to have a driver's licence.

Building Surveyor