A rounded education: exploring new avenues for learning during your apprenticeship

Whether working on projects or her studies, one trainee building surveyor has seen success in a variety of different areas, as the fifth in our series on apprenticeships explains.


  • Jordanne Wilson

25 June 2020

Recently, my workload and projects have been immensely diverse. They have ranged from reviewing the leases of 85 logistics properties, in order to ascertain the landlords exact insuring obligation and liability, to the early stages of a new roofing project for a large multi-let office facility. I have also been involved with preparing multiple contract documents on a number of projects, including a car park refurbishment and landlord improvement works to a retail park unit.

The project mentioned in my previous article regarding a burst water main underneath a high street retail unit has  also finally drawn to a close. It was something of a learning curve given the elusiveness of the leaks and the perseverance sometimes required when diagnosing defects. The project also provided unforeseen opportunities for collaboration with consultants and utilities companies, allowing me to develop my competency in building pathology as well.

"I have picked up my pencils for the first time since GCSEs"

I have continued to work on planned maintenance programmes to improve my experience and, in several instances, moved on to review premises with property and facilities managers. Doing so has enabled me to view maintenance and repair work from both a commercial and a landlords perspective, and has given me an insight into how I can improve the information  and reports I provide in future to fulfil  the clients needs.

I have also identified licences for alteration as an area in which I want to  gain more experience. As a result, I was quickly able to get involved in a few instructions, one being a retrospective licence to install a mezzanine and another for an incoming tenants fit-out works. The latter conveniently tied in with certifying the same tenant's dilapidations works for a previous unit on which I also prepared the schedule of dilapidations.

I have spent some time revising my knowledge of measurement standards by comparing and contrasting gross internal area (GIA) as described in the RICS Code of Measuring Practice sixth edition and International Property Measurement Standards (IPMS) 2: Retail, in order to determine the differences between the two, and how this relates to the measurement methodology used for reinstatement cost assessments. While the differences between the two standards are minimal, there are some stipulations made in the IPMS that are not addressed in GIA and vice versa, which are important to note when undertaking measured surveys and reinstatement cost assessments.

At the time of writing, I have also just finished the first semester of the second year of my degree with Birmingham City University, which came and went far too quickly. However, it culminated in the successful submission of my Built Environment Technology 1 assignment  for which I was awarded a first - my highest grade yet - scoring 89 out of  100, which I was thrilled about.

Perhaps even more exciting are my final two modules for the year: Design & Surveying Skills and Professional Environmental and Materials Science. The former has seen me pick up my pencils, something I haven't done since GCSE art, to learn hand and orthogonal drawing skills and observational measurement. I have enjoyed this immensely and I feel it has already influenced and improved the way I record my site notes. The latter encourages innovation and curiosity about materials and technology and the way various design aspects such as thermal comfort and light affect a building and its occupiers. I am especially looking forward to the showcase at the end of the semester in which my group and I will exhibit what we have learnt in whatever imaginative way we choose.

A recent CPD event held by Eversheds, which provided an update on case law in 2019, was another highlight and brought some interesting modern cases to the fore, including Fearn v The Board of Trustees of the Tate Gallery [2019] EWHC 246 (Ch) and Neocleous v Rees [2019] EWHC 2462 (Ch). I also had the privilege of sitting on a round-table discussion for the March 2019 edition of Modus which discussed whether there was a disconnect between surveying degree courses and the requirements of the profession. I personally feel that this is not the case but I encourage people to read the discussion online in full as many great points were raised The good issue (Modus April, 2019).

Jordanne Wilson is an apprentice building surveyor at Savills.


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