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How to Become a Building Surveyor: A Beginners’ Guide

Do you know that the average salary of building surveyors is more than £48,000 in England? And that’s not all; anyone can become a building surveyor and can earn around £70,000 per year. So, if you are a school-leaver or don’t have a degree, you can also become a building surveyor.   

Building surveyors assess the quality of buildings, from houses to public and commercial properties. They examine the condition of facilities and advise on ways to improve the condition of the facilities.

Although, that’s only the tip of the iceberg regarding a building surveyor’s duties and responsibilities. In reality, they are a valuable member of any construction team. They often advise architects and builders on:

  • Maintenance procedures of the building,
  • Keeping building safety standards high,
  • Determining the value of the property.
  • Advising on tenders and contractors, and more.

So, are you considering a career in building surveying? If you are, you need to understand the various aspects of the position and the significance of the work you’re about to undertake.

We, One Education, prepared this blog for you. Read on to know all the essential information related to building surveyors. Also, you can learn how to become a building surveyor.

Table of Contents

Who is the building surveyor?

A building surveyor advises clients or employers on the design, construction, maintenance and repair of buildings. They survey buildings and then make a report on their findings. If the result is not up to the standards, they make appropriate recommendations to meet the criteria.

Building surveying is one of the most comprehensive areas of surveying practice. The workload of a building surveyor is varied. The workload can include everything from the conservation and restoration of historic buildings to contemporary new developments. They are involved in all aspects of property and construction, from supervising significant mixed-use developments to planning domestic extensions.

What are the responsibilities and duties of a building surveyor?

The duties and responsibilities of a building surveyor are vast. As a building surveyor, you will need to:

  • Make sure projects are completed on budget and within the deadline.
  • Advise clients on schemes and projects. Also, determine required construction material.
  • Advise on the management and supervision of building maintenance.
  • Deal with planning applications for the client and advise on property legislation and building regulations.
  • Create scheme designs with costings, programmes for completion of projects and specification of works.
  • Organise documents for the business proposal.
  • Advise on appointing employees, such as contractors, designers and procurement routes.
  • Determine existing buildings condition, identify and analyse defects, including proposals for repair.
  • Advise clients on energy efficiency, environmental impact and sustainable construction.
  • Giving instruction on the preserving or conserving of historic buildings.
  • Carry out feasibility studies on sites.
  • Prepare insurance assessments and claim them.
  • Assess and design buildings for people with disabilities.
  • Instruct on construction design and management regulations of the building.
  • Negotiate dilapidations with clients (when there is a legal liability for a property’s state of disrepair).
  • Advise clients or workers on the health and safety aspects of buildings.
  • Advise on boundary and ‘right to light’ disputes and party wall procedures.

What to expect when you will be working as a building surveyor?

The following are some aspects of this job you can expect when you start your journey as a surveyor:

  • In this job, you often have to work on scaffolding and in difficult spaces. So, you need a reasonable level of fitness and mobility to perform the daily task.
  • However, it is not mandatory to be physically fit to work as a building surveyor. Sometimes, you will see physically disabled surveyors within the profession.
  • Building surveyor jobs are available in most areas of the country. However, if you reach chartered status, you will have more chances of getting a job quickly.
  • Self-employment and freelance work are common in building surveying. After gaining experience, you can establish your own consultancy firm. So, you can be your own boss.
  • You may have to work with other specialists such as architects and quantity surveyors. If you have been with a company for a long time, you may have the opportunity to become a partner or corporate director.
  • Sometimes you may have to travel to the sites within a working day is frequent. However, overnight absence from home is uncommon.
  • You often have to meet with contractors to discuss technical documents or visit clients/public members who have no construction knowledge. This means that you will require good communication skills.
  • Overseas work or travel is occasional.

Salary of a building surveyor

According to the RICS Macdonald & Company Rewards & Attitudes Survey 2019, a building surveyor’s average annual salary is £48,000. However, a chartered building surveyor earns around 38% more than their non-chartered counterparts.

After graduating, you can expect to earn around £22,000 to £26,000 per year. Although, if you can get a job in London, you will have the chance to make more. After a few years, you will be more experienced; you’ll earn around £28,000 to £50,000 per year.

At the senior level position, the annual salary can rise to £70,000. There is the potential for the paycheck to reach a six-figure if you become a company’s partner or director.

Working hours of a building surveyor

The average working hours of a building surveyor are 38 – 40 hours a week. As a building surveyor, you have to work 9 am to 5 pm like other office jobs. Sometimes you have to meet and socialise with clients outside the 9 to 5 schedule.

The work of a building surveyor is much less desk-bound than some branches of surveying. Although, you may have to work long hours when it is necessary. And also, you will be working alone for significant periods of time when working on site.

Is the building surveying the job right for you?

Every profession requires some specific skills and knowledge to perform the daily task. There is no point in choosing a career in surveying unless you have a passion for the profession and a determination to learn. You will also need formal qualifications to become a building surveyor.

After becoming a building surveyor, you will be working with a wide range of clients. You will also need to demonstrate some personal abilities, such as:

  • Working efficiently and with meticulous attention to detail.
  • You need to understand and analyse professional and relative data when required.
  • Be proactive and problem solver. 
  • Have excellent team management skills.
  • Be able to plan, prioritise and work effectively and to complete it before deadlines.
  • Good communication skill and negotiate effectively verbally and in writing.

So, do you have the above-mentioned skills and can handle the work toll? Then, this job is right for you. Become a building surveyor and earn a lot of money.

Read on to know the different routes of becoming a building surveyor.

How to become a building surveyor

A career in building surveying is not only limited to university graduates. A school-leaver can pursue this career and become a building surveyor. You can get into this career through:

  • A university course
  • An apprenticeship programmes
  • Working towards this role
  • A graduate training scheme

Through University

You can become a building surveyor by taking a course from the university. There are plenty of universities that provide building surveying related courses. The related course’s subject is:

  • Surveying
  • Construction
  • Civil engineering
  • Building engineering

The courses must be approved by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). If you don’t have the above-mentioned degree, but you have a degree in different subjects, you can also pursue this career. For instance, the degree you have is in economics, law or maths; you could take an accredited postgraduate qualification in surveying.

There are other subjects that may help to provide relevant knowledge about building surveying include:

  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Languages
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social sciences
  • Urban and land studies.

Entry requirements for a university course

You will usually need:

  • For a degree: 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent.
  • For a postgraduate course: a degree in any subject.

Through apprenticeship programmes

You can become a building surveyor through an apprenticeship programme. Apprenticeships offer training to the interested body and provide a great way to enter the profession.

RICS are keen to remove the barriers for young people who might want to get into building surveying. Everyone knows that a university degree can be expensive, and it is not for everyone.

A school leaver can sign up to the Chartered Surveyors Training Trust (CSTT). This organisation offers apprenticeship schemes to help young people become surveyors. And also help them qualify for associate membership (AssocRICS).

Building surveying degree apprenticeships are available via a range of employers. You will need five years to complete the apprenticeship degree. During this time, you will work four days a week and spend one day a week studying in a partner university.

You will get a salary from the employer during that time. Because an apprenticeship is all about paid training. A building surveying degree apprenticeship (level 6) won’t cost you anything either because the government or your employer will pay all the fees. You can also secure a long-term earning potential and progress your career from apprenticeship.

Entry requirements for apprenticeships

You will need to do this apprenticeship are:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
  • Apprenticeships are a very effective way of learning new skills, boosting your knowledge and gaining first-hand work experience. The training enables you to gain transferable skills for the jobs.

On completing your degree apprenticeship, you’ll end up with a B.Sc (Hons) degree in Building Surveying. Also, you will get registered as a Chartered Surveyor with the RICS. And then it’s time to let the big money, big projects and good times roll.

Working towards this role

If you have a relevant foundation degree or HND and are working in this industry, you can also become a building surveyor. For instance, you are working as a surveying technician, you may be able to do further building surveying qualifications.

Through other routes

There are other routes to become building surveyors. Many companies provide a postgraduate qualification through a graduate trainee scheme; you can enrol with them. Or get trained in building surveying through distance learning with the University College of Estate Management.

The Building Surveyor Training course is open to all people, and there are no formal entry requirements. To become a building surveyor by this route, you need to have:

  • A passion for learning,
  • A good understanding of the English language
  • Numeracy skills,
  • IT skills
  • And need to be over the age of 16.

For instance, you can take training on building surveying from One Education. The course is delivered through an online learning platform. You can access this course and materials through any internet-connected device. There are no formal deadlines or teaching schedules so that you can study the course at your own pace.

After successfully completing this course, you will receive:

  • An Endorsed Certificate of Achievement from the Quality Licence Scheme.
  • CPD Certification from One Education.

Required skills to become a building surveyor

The daily responsibilities and duties of a building surveyor are very diverse. To perform the day-to-day task, you will need to have a lot of skills, include:

  • Technical knowledge and competence of this field.
  • Good oral and written communication skills.
  • A logical and practical mind.
  • The ability to identify and analyse problems in order to find solutions.
  • The ability to build relationships with clients and colleagues.
  • Good negotiation, presentation and report writing skills.
  • Ability to assure employers or clients that you are adding maximum value to clients’ businesses.
  • Ability to take on higher levels of responsibility with encouragement and motivation.
  • Good IT skills, including computer-aided design (cad).
  • A driving license.

Where can I get the necessary work experience?

You should work for an employer or visit some sites before you start studying for a career in building surveying. From the working sites, you can understand what the job is, and is it the right job for me. If so, you have some experience that you can add to your CV.

Getting the necessary work experience makes your CV look good and also helps you land a job quickly. You can get the required experience in two ways. One is working for construction companies, and the other is working for a non-profit organisation.

From construction companies

Doing work for a construction company can help you decide if this is the right profession. These will also help you find a job. You can gain experience from working in:

  • Architectural firms.
  • Engineering design consultancies.
  • Construction and property consultancies.
  • Real estate firms and real estate services companies.
  • Property design and management services.

You can include work experience in your CV if you:

  • Work shadowing (even if it’s just for a day).
  • Work placements in a company.
  • Work placements on a degree course.
  • A year internship programme for pre-university/undergraduates.

From working voluntarily

Volunteering works always look good on a building surveyor’s CV. From doing volunteering work, you will be picking up valuable life and work skills that will help you throughout your entire life.

Even the unnecessary work skills which don’t seem immediately relevant to building surveying can help you get the job. These irrelevant skills will show the employer you have the right stuff and make your job application stand out.

Professional development of a building surveyor

To become a surveyor, you have to successfully complete a degree that is accredited by the RICS. From there, you can pursue a master’s degree or work towards chartered status. You can achieve chartered status through the completion of the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC). It is a work-based professional training scheme, and it usually takes two to three years to complete.

The APC scheme includes on-the-job learning, regular meetings with a supervisor, and an assessment interview. Upon completion of the APC along with academic qualifications leads to chartered surveyor status and RICS membership.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is an essential aspect of the building surveyor role. You need to maintain professional competencies and practice standards as your career advances.

Professional organisations such as RICS support CPD for surveyors. There are several training courses available that support and enhance building surveyor’s skills. RICS offers a range of courses that cover:

  • technical topics,
  • personal development,
  • management and leadership,
  • and business skills.

You can also take qualifications and training from other professional organisation are includes:

Being a member of a professional organisation can also help with CPD. This organisation can provide access to professional journals, easy communications and a network of professional colleagues.

Career prospects of building surveyors

As a building surveyor, you will have a lot of opportunities to progress your career. You have the opportunity to gain broader experience and also promotion. As you gain experience, you could move into projects or take responsibility for planning, controlling, and coordinating projects from inception to completion.

If you succeed in these roles, you may have a shot becoming departmental head or manager in the public sector. In private sectors, you may have the opportunity to become a director, partner, or open private practice. The career ladder of building surveyors is below:

Chartered Building Surveyor > Apprentice Building Surveyor > Assistant Quantity Surveyor > Project Surveyor.

You can move between these below public sectors to advance your career:

  • Local authorities,
  • Universities,
  • Hospital trusts,
  • And government posts.

Most large organisations have formal promotion channels for surveyors who take on increased technical and managerial responsibility.

How you want to advance your career entirely depends on you. You may choose to specialise and become an expert in one particular area or follow the standard career path. Another option, once you achieve your charted status, you can set up your own private practice.

Who are the employers of building surveyors?

The demand for building surveyors is increasing day by day. They are required in various real estate markets, including leisure, residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial.

Chartered building surveyors’ job location is not fixed; they worked for various organisations. For example, you could work in the private, corporate, public or voluntary sectors. There are also a lot of opportunities for non-chartered surveyors. Typical employers of building surveyors include:

  • Specialised private practices, e.g. surveying firms, specialist property consultancies and construction companies.
  • Central government, e.g. valuation office.
  • Public-private organisations.
  • Local government, e.g. local authorities.
  • Large property-owning organisations. For example, you could work for housing associations, retailers and leisure groups.
  • Loss adjusters.

There are opportunities to work abroad with various international property and construction companies. Because the professional qualifications in surveying are recognised worldwide.

Where the job vacancies advertised?

Many large private companies take fresh graduates once a year. The deadline for intake varies from company to company. For private companies, the closing date for intake is as early as December or January of your final year. Other companies will accept speculative applications slightly later.

Public sector organisations rarely accept speculative applications when hiring employees. They usually advertise vacancies as they occur.

Once you’ve gained enough experience, you could consider self-employment as an option. You can look for job vacancies at:

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Conclusion

The responsibility of building surveyors is to ensure that buildings are constructed safely and are suitable to be occupied. To do this, building surveyors assess, consult, advise and enforce legislative requirements.

The work is not tedious; you get to work in both conditions working in and outside of the office. Every day you have to face various challenges, and this can be very exciting. The perks and benefit of becoming a building surveyor are immense. Also, you can earn a lot of money as a building surveyor.

Be a building surveyor. By doing this, you will become a responsible member of society.

June 11, 2021

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