One of the problems we repeatedly come up against when presenting the Kykloud surveying app to industry professionals are the sector traditionalists who feel that surveying reports should not be solely data driven, but consist of a longer-form written report which is as much about clever prose as it is about the building condition.

There are a number of pros and cons for both approaches but perhaps the great words of William Shakespeare will be able to represent the differences between the traditional and the Kykloud approach to surveying reports.

William Shakespeare, extract from the Tempest:

Prospero. My brother and thy uncle, call’d Antonio—

I pray thee, mark me—that a brother should

Be so perfidious!—he whom next thyself

Of all the world I loved and to him put

The manage of my state; as at that time

Through all the signories it was the first

And Prospero the prime duke, being so reputed

In dignity, and for the liberal arts

Without a parallel; those being all my study,

The government I cast upon my brother

And to my state grew stranger, being transported

And rapt in secret studies. Thy false uncle—

Dost thou attend me?

Using Kykloud’s model, this is how we would present the above quote:

Prospero: I trusted my brother.  I shouldn’t have.  Understand?

This is of course a light-hearted way of looking at this issue but the question remains, why do surveyors insist on writing longer-form reports?  There is certainly an argument that such reports are acceptable for individual building surveys and to a degree expected by the client but when surveying multiple assets, does the client really prefer such long-winded reports?  Or it is perhaps because by writing such perfectly constructed prose, surveyors feel they are more readily justifying the fee?

Kykloud employs the approach that by creating survey models which are specific to each type of survey required (for example NHS 6 Facet Surveys, defect snagging and HSE inspections), they can offer a data-driven reporting optionwhich is clear, functional and offers clients the chance to view information about their assets in an accessible format.  Rather than wading through an essay-like description of their asset, they instead are given the facts, with additional testimony offered where necessary and can compare and contrast outputs across their portfolio year on year thanks to the standardised format.

The move to more data-driven reporting is certainly capturing the imagination of many surveyors and we are most definitely seeing a move from many surveying practises to understanding that time-poor clients prefer a more efficient reporting format, particularly across multiple sites.

Is a more standardised reporting format necessary or welcomed by the surveying industry?  This is open to discussion because as any good surveyor will say, the report is only as good as the surveyor completing it.  However, by using standardised templates the report is generally more favoured by clients.  Whilst standardisation can improve accuracy, the debate around reporting formats in the industry is far from complete and takes in everything from competition to quality and fee rates.

There is also the argument around Professional Indemnity insurance which underpins a qualified surveyor’s advice.  There is a perception that PI insurers want “lots of evidence and detail” – does this mean they want the detail in four pages of text or one page of punchy text and data analysis in data form? It’s what is in the report that counts and the accuracy of the information and data provided – not how many words have been written.

Applying the Shakespeare angle above this can be further illustrated where the same information is presented in two different ways:

Long-prose survey report:

The windows in the east elevation of the property are softwood timbers and showing signs of deterioration and have reached the end of their useful life. They were installed in c1980 and require whole scale replacement. There are approx. five double casement windows each 2 m2 in size that require replacement and due to elevation height, temporary access will be required by way of scaffolding.

Kykloud data driven survey report:

Element Location Quantity   Unit Material/Spec Defect Age Yrs Remedial Action Associated Works Photo Ref
Window East Elevation 20 m2 SW Timber End of life 32 Replace Scaffolding to elevation Xyz

 

The data driven report will almost certainly become more useful when there are multiple properties being surveyed and presented in reports. The results can be pooled across a portfolio and analysed statistically and trends pulled out. You can’t run trends or analyse a paragraph of text in the same way.

Although the result often comes down to a matter of preference between both client and surveyor, there is a growing concern that the industry is proving slow to catch on to technological advancements which could positively impact on the everyday work completed by a surveyor.  In five years time, will clients even expect to receive a long, written report taking in every nuance about a building or as time has moved on, will some surveyors be left behind by still insisting on following the old rules?