What was your route into Building Surveying as a career?
When I graduated as a mature student in 2011, the remnants of the recession were still evident and there weren’t many graduate roles for building surveyors. I had an offer to work on a self-employed basis undertaking energy surveys for Eon Energy, measuring buildings and recording their suitability for retrofitted external insulation, roof insulation and new boilers being installed under the government’s energy schemes. After a year of experience under my belt, I had an offer to work with Roger North Long & Partners, mainly involving residential projects and surveys. After two and a half years at Roger North Long, I became a Chartered Building Surveyor. To further my learning and experience, I joined Cooke & Arkwright to take the step into commercial surveying, and I have not looked back.
Tell us about your work at Cooke & Arkwright.
Generally, my work involves contract administration/project management, schedule of dilapidations assessments and pre-acquisition reports. Fire insurance valuations, defect assessments and Party Wall advice are also in my remit.
Give us an overview of what an average day for you could entail.
It is a varied role. Approximately half my time is spent on inspections, which is great for me as working solely in an office all day every day would not suit me. One day it could be undertaking a fire insurance valuation of a large food processing factory, the next day I could be on my hands and knees in a flooded basement of a Victorian property!
What is your favourite part of the job?
I used to say problem solving! For example, finding where water ingress is coming from and potential remedial repairs. However, with the amount of wet weather we have had over the last year it has not been un-common for me to have a phone call every day from different tenants/landlords needing repairs for new leaks, so the problem solving has been a bit relentless! However, this is part of the job, and each property I inspect for whatever reason, I always learn something new. It is a very experience-led career.
What advice would you give someone starting out in property now?
University teaches you the very basics, you only really start to develop at the outset of your career, so gain as much experience as possible. I learnt most of my knowledge from shadowing surveyors undertaking residential building surveys. Going on two or three surveys like this every week, you learn the method and the likely issues to be found on a building based on its location and building type.
Tell us a bit about your experience of working from home.
I work only half the time in the office ordinarily, so it has not been that much of a change for me working from home. My wife and I have a four-year-old daughter, and with both of us working from home during lockdown it was occasionally difficult. We managed by taking it in turns to entertain her during the day. My first port of call would be Lego! That had a bonus as it meant switching off for half an hour and de-stressing.
Now that lockdown has eased and grandparents can help with childcare once more, working from home has become easy. I have now set up a proper office: no more kitchen table working, so I get peace and quiet (and no more bad backs!).