'An RICS chartership is a job passport to the world,' my lecturer told my class in 2008, on the first day of my building surveying degree at the University of the West of England in Bristol. Any future career seemed a long way off at the time, though, let alone being chartered. But this remark always stuck with me – the notion that if I became a chartered surveyor, I could enjoy travelling and working abroad during my career.
But since achieving chartered status in 2014, I have been given the opportunity to inspect and work on a range of buildings in Europe and across Oceania and Asia. Our team is often required to be on site for inspections, frequently entering parts of buildings that the public will never see. Through my experiences, I have found that the profession can offer extensive and varied opportunities, and be a fulfilling and exciting career choice for the practically minded person.
From 2012 to 2015, for instance, I was involved with large external repair and maintenance projects at Brighton Marina on the south coast of England. Who wouldn't enjoy completing an inspection by the seaside? Well, in the summer at least.
In 2013, I was then involved with a feasibility study and full design and project management role on a significant historic town hall nearby in Sussex. The works included close liaison with the conservation officers and the installation of sympathetic glazed pavement lights above the building vaults, to highlight where ten Protestant martyrs were imprisoned before being burnt at the stake in the 16th century (see photo above). In 2014, I also prepared a maintenance plan for a police building, which had been the riot training facility for the London Olympics in 2012, deep beneath the ground in the Sussex countryside.
Glazed pavement light highlighting the scene of an historic martyrdom of Protestant women at a Sussex town hall IMAGE @ BEN ANDERSON
In 2015 I ventured further afield, and undertook a planned preventative maintenance report on a government building in the Northern Territory, Australia. This proved an exciting new experience as I could visit the area and surrounding national parks – something I would not have been able to do otherwise. Subsequently, I provided strategic dilapidation advice and negotiation for the Queensland government in 2016, when several premises were consolidated into one large, purpose-built building, saving millions of dollars for the taxpayer.
In 2016, I was also approached by a potential purchaser to inspect and report on three hotels in Wellington and Queenstown, New Zealand. The job involved a thorough inspection of all the buildings and assessing the condition of the fabric. The evenings and weekend I spent white-water rafting and skiing weren't part of the inspection, but I wouldn't have had the opportunity for these without the job.
In 2017, I was engaged to inspect a five-star island resort in the Maldives by a potential purchaser. This involved a comprehensive inspection of all the buildings and services on the island – which meant five days staying in this luxurious locale. As several of the buildings were built into the seabed, the job itself included some diving to assess the condition of structural timber posts.
Back in the UK the same year, I also advised a major global nutrition and hygiene brand on its potential dilapidation options and liability when it was considering relocating its London headquarters elsewhere in Europe.
Since 2017, I have been involved with the specification and project management of the external repair works to three important historic buildings across the City and the West End of London. The projects have involved liaison with specialist consultants and engaging with local government and historic environment officers. It is very satisfying to work with heritage assets such as these and ensure that they are passed on, in good condition, for future generations to enjoy.
If the above experiences sound interesting and you would like some more information about the work I've been doing, then do feel free to get in touch.
Ben Anderson MRICS is an associate at Cushman & Wakefield firstname.lastname@example.org