Building Surveyor

Outline of Job

The job of a building surveyor is to aid and advise clients on the construction of a building. They will work on the planning and implementing of new buildings, and the restoration, maintenance and preservation of older buildings. A building surveyor will be concerned with all aspects of building development, needing to be knowledgeable in design, refurbishment, sustainability, and building regulations. Projects can range from houses to large industrial structures. If building regulations have been violated a surveyor may be asked to provide expert opinion on legal proceedings.

Daily Activities

  • Surveying buildings for faults
  • Making sure buildings are easily accessible
  • Monitoring project budgets
  • Surveying damage for insurance purposes
  • Providing expert opinion on legal proceedings
  • Making sure building regulations are met
  • Advising on energy efficiency
  • Assessing who is accountable for structure repair costs
  • Working on the preservation of historical buildings
  • Preparing building plans and designs
  • Advising on issues such as boundary rights and conservation grants

Skills Required

  • Attention to detail and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work as an individual and as part of a team
  • Good communication skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Understanding of building regulations
  • Organised approach
  • Able to comprehend building plans
  • IT competent in design software
  • Negotiation skills

Expected Earnings & Conditions

Typical starting salary for graduates is £18,000 - £20,000, with experienced surveyors able to earn £23,000 - £38,000, and those moving up to senior level capable of earning up to £50,000. Salaries will vary according to the organisation and individual experience, with agencies in London normally offering higher rates. Other benefits may include a company car and a pension scheme.

Working hours are usually nine to five, with over-time a possibility. Promotion is likely to increase working hours, and some social time may be used to liaise with clients. Much of the work is based on-site, meaning you will need to be of good physical fitness. Travel during the day is frequent and you will need to wear safety equipment when working on-site. With experience freelance work is a distinct possibility.

Qualifications & Experience Required

A degree qualification will be needed to become a building surveyor, with further training also a necessity. You will need to choose a degree accredited by the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors), or by other institutions including the CIOB (Chartered Institute of Building), BIFM (British Institute of Facilities Management), or ABE (Association of Building Engineers). Appropriate degrees include:

  • Construction
  • Surveying
  • Civil engineering
  • Building engineering

It is also possible to start out as a trainee and work toward the necessary qualifications in your spare time. In London, for example, the CSTT (Chartered Surveyors Training Trust) offers work-based education opportunities for people aged sixteen to twenty-four with at least four GCSEs graded A-C. Without a recognized degree you will need to undertake postgraduate study in surveying.

This can be done through a company graduate scheme, a university course accredited by the RICS, or through a distance learning course, such as that offered by the CEM (College of Estate Management). A driving licence is generally required, and IT skills are essential. Openings are advertised in newspapers and by recruitment agencies, but it is also a good idea to send out speculative applications.

Additional Training & Development

A building surveyor can move up to project management level with experience, and then to management or partner level after time. Promotion will be based on experience, with additional training also essential. Those in the public sector will typically work for a variety of local agencies, such as universities, governmental placements and hospitals.

When starting out in the role of building surveyor you will be required to work under the CPD (Continuing Professional Development) programme in order to work toward chartered status. You will need to apply to become a member of the RICS or CIOB to achieve this status. With the RICS you will need to complete the APC (Assessment of Professional Competence) programme, available for those with an accredited qualification, lasting two to six years. The CIOB offer various ways to chartered status, such as the PDP (Professional Development Programme), usually lasting three years.

NVQ qualifications would also improve your credentials for future promotion. Related courses would depend on your speciality, but would be based around areas in surveying, maintenance and environment development.