I get asked a lot by people who hope to get into the construction industry whether a degree is needed if you want to become a building control surveyor, and what professional qualifications you can achieve. I give the same answer each time: a degree is not always necessary, but it will make your life easier if you complete an RICS-accredited degree because it will shorten the timescale needed to achieve chartered status. Having done an accredited master's myself at Kingston University, I am now progressing through my APC towards MRICS status.
To help me prepare for the last 15 months of the process, I have come up with some coping strategies. I want to hone my public speaking skills for my final interview in June next year, in which I will be quizzed by three APC assessors, so I have found it useful to practise PechaKucha presentations. These consist of 20 slides you have to get through with only 20 seconds for each; to ensure that I have processed the information and that I'm not just reading from slides, I use images only.
Another strategy I find useful is to network with other surveyors doing their APC and to keep up to date with developments by reading this journal as well as Modus and connecting on LinkedIn. By doing so, I have been able to access good resources and CPD.
My employer, jhai, is gearing up for an audit by the Construction Industry Council in the coming months. This brings to the fore the need for the utmost professionalism, which includes keeping CPD records up to date and demonstrating that our duty as approved inspectors is discharged properly. It is thus important for a company to employ a good proportion of chartered surveyors, highlighting the necessity of the APC pathway in Building Control.
In my role as a building control surveyor, I relate my experience of the working day back to the APC in my diary and consider how the knowledge I have gained can be applied and demonstrated. One example of this is a project I was working on recently. Although this was completed in 2011, a final inspection was not requested until this year. The homeowner informed me that she was not in possession of the Gas Safe and Part P electrical certificates for the works undertaken. I told her we would need these to demonstrate compliance with J1– 3 and Parts 1 and 2 of the Building Regulations. I searched the Gas Safe website and found out that the gas work was completed in 2013 and she could purchase a duplicate certificate. This experience was valuable, and helped me achieve the Client care competency.
My experience of more complex projects is increasing. I am currently working on a site where land is contaminated; an investigation revealed that the topsoil contains fragments of ash and slag and a strong petrol odour in various locations. Advising on this project will help with completing the Contaminated land competency in my APC summary of experience. As I work in London, I also find it useful to ask colleagues in other regional offices whether they have projects I could work on, given that ground conditions and construction techniques can vary throughout the country.
The case study of the APC is undoubtedly the most sizeable element of the 24-month structured pathway. It will differ to my master's dissertation as I will have to refer to my own experiences and offer detailed and professional advice. I renewed my RICS membership in January as I continue with the APC, which promises to be the toughest but most rewarding journey of my career.
Uzoma Jemade is a trainee building control surveyor at jhai firstname.lastname@example.org