There are times in life when you might want to work with an individual – such as an artisan baker or dressmaker – but choosing a surveying company is generally not one of those times.
A good number of talented individuals and small surveying firms are out there and quite capable of doing the job, but generally speaking, bigger is better for several reasons.
We spoke to an established Liverpool based surveying company City Surveys & Monitoring Ltd to find out just why a bigger company, can provide more efficient results.
It’s a matter of scalability and resilience – if an individual falls ill or a piece of equipment breaks, a larger firm is in a better position to replace them quickly and keep your project on track.
Overall, this adds up to less risk for you as the customer, and creates a compelling case for value over cheapness.
Individual workers supplied by a labour agency can be tempting, as they are the cheapest option on paper when compared with the day rate of a fully-equipped surveyor from a large firm with their own vehicle.
But if the individual isn’t able to supply certain essential equipment, you could find yourself facing additional hire costs that weren’t obvious upfront, not to mention the cost of providing transportation.
‘One-man bands’ usually won’t have their own insurance and need constant project management from you, tying up your own time or further adding to the costs you face for putting someone else in charge of them.
Finally, when you rely on an individual, there is always the risk that they will not turn up – either because they have changed their mind about the job, or because they received a better offer from elsewhere.
Turning to a small firm of surveyors helps to reduce some of the risk, but is still not an ideal option, especially if your project is too large for them to realistically handle.
Many small surveyor firms have only 2-3 members of staff, so illness, holidays and even parental responsibilities can get in the way if they do not have another suitable employee to send along as a substitute.
Like a one-man band, the cheaper price is often a sign of corner-cutting, such as less rigorous quality control procedures and no guarantee of accuracy in the finished product.
By comparison, a large company of surveyors will often offer some form of guarantee or assurance of quality, including three-stage checks of the results generated.
Large firms are also more likely to have the proper insurance policies in place, such as professional indemnity, public liability and employer’s’ liability insurance – all of which can be too expensive for small firms to afford.
It’s not just about having insurance cover in place; it’s also about the scope of the policy. Larger firms have larger policies, which protect the higher value of larger projects. They are often bespoke policies arranged via brokers, and so much more likely to take in all of the specific risks with no gaps in cover.
The big boys
So what gives the big boys the edge among surveyor firms and one-man bands? There’s all of the resilience, flexibility and scalability mentioned above – the ability to handle larger projects, overcome obstacles and protect against risks.
Their equipment is often kept in better condition too, with regular servicing and calibration, combined with updated software to analyse the results obtained. None of the ‘make do and mend’ that can be seen among smaller outfits where the annual servicing costs of £1,000 or more are an impossible outlay.
And finally, the paperwork is more likely to be fully comprehensive, with a signed, legally valid contract for the job, agreeing that the firm will be responsible for their staff, equipment and transport costs.
While this will be factored into the day rate you pay, you benefit from knowing upfront what that rate will be, with no unexpected equipment or transport rental costs, and no additional demands made on your time.