Building Surveyor

    If you are wondering how to become a building surveyor, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of the construction industry, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Building surveyors advise clients about the design and construction of new buildings and the maintenance, repair, renovation and conservation of existing ones. Clients can range from individual house owners to large commercial and industrial companies with property assets.

    Your work as a surveyor would vary depending on the type of project, but would usually focus on three main areas – surveying, legal work, and planning and inspection.

    Typical responsibilities:

    surveying properties, identifying structural defects and making recommendations for repairs
    assessing damage for insurance and loss adjustment purposes, for example as a result of bad weather, fire or flooding
    assessing dilapidation liability (who is responsible for building repair costs)
    advising clients on issues such as property boundary disputes
    acting as a client’s advocate or standing as an expert witness during formal legal proceedings
    checking properties to make sure they meet Building Regulations, and fire safety and accessibility standards
    dealing with planning applications, and improvement or conservation grants
    assessing homes for energy efficiency and producing Home Condition Reports (see the separate job profiles for Domestic Energy Assessor and Home Inspector).
    You may cover all of these areas, depending on the size of your company, or you might specialise in just one.

    Your other duties would include supervising a surveying team made up of assistants and technicians.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of good building surveyors include:

    good problem-solving skills
    a working knowledge of surveying technology, IT and computer-aided design
    the ability to work to a high degree of accuracy
    the ability to interpret data
    strong communication, negotiation and presentation skills
    the ability to prioritise and plan effectively
    the ability to understand a client’s business needs
    a commitment to continuing professional development
    the ability to work as part of a team and to take responsibility for decision making
    a comprehensive knowledge of Building Regulations
    an understanding of planning legislation, and health and safety issues.

    How to become a surveyor
    To qualify as a building surveyor you will need to complete a degree course accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), followed by professional development (see Training); or start in a trainee position with a surveying firm and study for qualifications whilst working.

    Relevant degrees include:

    civil engineering
    building engineering.
    If you have a non-accredited degree, you will need to take a postgraduate course in surveying. You can do this through a graduate traineeship once working or by studying full-time at an RICS-accredited university. If you are working in engineering or construction, you could take a distance learning postgraduate conversion course with the College of Estate Management (CEM). For more details about this, contact the CEM.

    If you have a BTEC HNC/HND or foundation degree in surveying or construction, you may be able to work as a surveying technician with a company and take further qualifications over time to fully qualify. See the separate job profile for Technical Surveyor.

    The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIOB) Faculty for Architecture and Surveying have details about surveying careers and accredited degree programmes.

    Training and Development
    Once you are working as a building surveyor, it is very important to continue your professional development to fully qualify, by working towards chartered status. You can achieve this through the RICS or the Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIOB) Faculty for Architecture and Surveying.

    If you have a RICS-approved qualification, you can complete the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC). This is a period of supervised practical training to build up your professional knowledge and skills. It can take between two and six years to pass the APC, which leads to chartered status.

    The CIOB has a variety of routes to chartered membership of its organisation, which depend on your qualifications and experience. You work through a Professional Development Programme (normally around three years) followed by a Professional Review.

    You can also work towards NVQ qualifications, once you are working in this field. The exact award will depend on your job but may include one of the following:

    Surveying, Property and Maintenance Level 3
    Built Environment Development and Control Level 4.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Starting salaries for newly qualified graduate building surveyors are between £18,000 and £22,000.
    Experienced surveyors earn between £23,000 and £38,000.
    Senior staff with chartered status can earn up to £50,000.

    Job Prospects
    Opportunities for building surveyors are very good. You can find jobs with a wide range of organisations, including local authorities, construction and engineering firms, building conservation bodies and specialist surveying practices.

    Your options for career progression could include jobs in project or senior management, partnership in private practice, self-employment as a consultant, or working in related fields, for example building control. See the separate job profile for Building Control Officer.

    Useful building and construction resources:
    Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
    Surveyor Court
    Westwood Way
    CV4 8JE
    Tel: 0870 333 1600

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