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.
New building surveyors usually earn
$50K-$65K per year
Building surveyors who are managers usually earn
$90-$160K per year
Source: Hays Salary Guide, 2017.
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.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
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.
Skills and knowledge
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.
- 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 dangerous, and may work at heights and in enclosed spaces
- may have to travel to isolated sites.
What's the job really like?
Building Review Officer (building control processing)
What sort of work do you do?
I am a Building Review Officer. I work in the council office, processing the building consents that come through the door and making sure they comply with the relevant legislation.
What do you enjoy about your job?
There is a fair bit of problem solving in my role and it’s always good when you find a solution for a client which helps them get their consent across the line - if there is an issue or uncertainty, a quick site visit with one of the inspectors usually irons out the creases.
You participate in the continual improvement of the buildings that we live and work in. This is why I love what I do.
Is there any downside to your job?
Occasionally you get negative input from customers due to a myriad of issues outside your control. Good communication skills are a must in this job.
How did you get into this work?
I took up a cadetship as a Building Control Officer (BCO). This allowed me to gain experience and training across the various functions of a Building Control Authority [such as a city council].
There are now new educational pathways available for people looking at a BCO career which include a National Diploma in Building Control Surveying instead of traditional industry experience.
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.
A minimum of four years of secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include English, maths, physics, construction and mechanical technologies, and digital technologies.
Additional requirements for specialist roles:
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).
- Information about the New Zealand Diploma in Building Surveying
- Information about National Diplomas in Building Control Surveying
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.
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.
You need to be a strong people person with good communication skills, and you need to have good literacy skills because in our industry we rely an awful lot on the written or spoken word, so you've got to be very concise and accurate.
Building Control Officer
Useful experience for building surveyors includes:
- hands-on work in construction such as carpentry or plumbing
- work in quantity surveying, architecture or engineering.
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.
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 Officials Institute of New Zealand website - information about the Accredited Building Surveyor programme
- New Zealand Institute of Building Inspectors website - information about registration
- New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors website - information about registration
Find out more about training
- Building Officials Institute of New Zealand
- (04) 473 6002 - BOINZ website
- Capable New Zealand Otago Polytechnic
- 0800 762 786 - email@example.com - www.capablenz.co.nz
- New Zealand Institute of Building Inspectors
- (09) 435 4255 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.nzibi.co.nz
- New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors
- 0800 11 34 00 - email@example.com - www.buildingsurveyors.co.nz
- The Skills Organisation
- 0508 754 557 - firstname.lastname@example.org - skills.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Construction boom and building issues create demand for building surveyors
Demand for building surveyors is strong due to:
- a construction boom that is predicted to last until 2021, meaning more building work will need to be assessed
- the extra 22,000 houses that are needed over the next 10 years in Auckland
- the need for assessment of buildings that are leaky, earthquake-prone or contain asbestos, and the rebuilds of such buildings
- building work to repair earthquake damage in Wellington and Kaikoura
- the Christchurch rebuild
- an ageing workforce – many building inspectors and surveyors are approaching retirement and will need to be replaced.
Although the number of building surveyors is increasing, there is still a shortage of workers. As a result, building surveyor appears on Immigration New Zealand's regional and construction and infrastructure skill shortage lists. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled building surveyors from overseas to work in New Zealand.
According to the Census, 1,002 building surveyors worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Demand for building surveyors and inspectors strongest in Auckland
Building surveyors are in demand all over New Zealand, but the strongest demand is in Auckland.
Types of employers varied
Most building surveyors work for city, regional or district councils, or independent construction or building inspection companies.
About a quarter are self-employed.
- Auckland Council, 'Where Could I Work?', accessed July 2017, (careers.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz).
- BRANZ and Pacifecon, 'National Construction Pipeline Report 4', July 2016, (www.branz.co.nz).
- Building Officials Institute of NZ website, accessed November 2015, (most0010175.e-xpert.co.nz).
- Building Performance website, accessed November 2015, (www.building.govt.nz).
- Dunbar, S, general manager, New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors, Careers New Zealand interview, February 2016.
- Hays, '2017 Hays Salary Guide: Salary and Recruiting Trends', accessed July 2017, (www.hays.net.nz).
- Hill, N, chief executive, and Conder, T, education and technical manager, Building Officials Institute of New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, February 2016.
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List', 27 May 2019, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Regional Skill Shortage List', 27 May 2019, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Scott, N, chief executive, New Zealand Institute of Building Inspectors, Careers New Zealand interview, February 2016.
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
- Stuff, 'Auckland Housing Shortage to Continue Despite Reforms: MBIE', 19 March 2015, (www.stuff.co.nz).
- Worksafe New Zealand, 'Key Rule Changes', 18 December 2015, (www.business.govt.nz/worksafe).
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
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.
Last updated 13 October 2020