The varied work of a trainee building surveyor

A trainee building surveyor is taking on varied work that will develop her skills, as the fourth in our series on apprenticeships explains


  • Jordanne Wilson

05 April 2020

I have recently been increasing my experience of schedule conditions, preparing an unprecedentedly lengthy report for an office building that is due to be repurposed for educational use. I've found in past instructions that the value of a schedule of condition to landlord and tenant alike lies in the level of detail included – even if much of that detail is almost the same across 120-plus rooms. However, this job was educational, and allowed me to hone my inspection and data collection skills.

Two ongoing dilapidations negotiations with which I'm involved have concluded positively for both clients. Having helped prepare several schedules of dilapidations previously, I found it good to observe and contribute to the next stages and gain more insight into the process. I've also been brought on to a batch of planned maintenance programmes on other office and industrial facilities. These are an excellent way to increase my knowledge in the competencies of Building pathology and Construction technology and environmental services, and to improve my ability to calculate budget and estimated costs for different works.

What appears to be taking up a lot of my time presently is project management and contract administration on two minor repair projects. One involves leaking water below ground, the other leaking water above ground. I am finding the first slightly more interesting, because over the past three years I've learnt that a roof is always leaking somewhere - and those that aren't will probably do so soon. I have previously had isolated experience with project management and contract administration individually, but I am especially enjoying working on these two projects from inception to completion as they offer an holistic view of the process.

Although at the time of writing I feel as if I have just started the winter term, my lecturers are already requesting my assignments for final submission. I have nearly completed the fundamentals of my module on built environment technology, covering low-rise residential construction technology, and the next stage will look at openings in external walls, windows and external doors before concluding with internal finishes, sanitation and utilities. My final assignment in this module will be to compile an illustrated portfolio demonstrating my understanding of basic low-rise residential construction, and depicting an array of standard and code-compliant construction methods.

As part of my CPD I enjoyed a site tour of Bank Tower 2 in Birmingham which included discussions about the building and its challenges. Construction on the project which is on a brownfield site in a highly restricted location in the city centre started in June 2017. Challenges included the sequencing of the works with lower floors receiving final finishes concurrent with the construction of those above delivery and storage of materials on such a small site and the placement of hoists. The contractor also explained the effective strategy that had been followed for keeping channels of communication open with the subcontractors and ensuring that milestones were met and design challenges were quickly overcome.

I am meanwhile helping to organise the RICS Matrics Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, in which there has been a surprising amount of interest. In line with this year's RICS Matrics chair's challenge we have decided to be sponsored in aid of Plastic Oceans UK. As part of the wider challenge, local groups will also be arranging plastic pick-ups in an effort to reduce ocean waste.

Finally, Savills joined celebrations at the RICS Young Surveyor of the Year Awards 2019 held at London's Royal Garden Hotel in November, for which I was nominated in the Apprentice of the Year category. This extraordinary night showcased some of the industry's brilliant young talent. The evening was hosted by the remarkable J. J. Chalmers, who described his inspirational journey from Royal Marine to Invictus Games gold medalist to TV presenter. He shared the many lessons he had learnt, but the ones that will remain with me are never to rest on my laurels, and to understand that I am the only obstacle to achieving my goals and surpassing my ambitions.

Jordanne Wilson is an apprentice building surveyor at Savills jordanne.wilson@savills.com

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