This post is the first in a series describing what various types of chartered surveyors do for a living. If you think you can say it better than me, offer a unique perspective, or have some essential tips for others who might stumble across Surveyors HQ, please visit the submit an article page for more information. I’m always happy to hear from those involved in the profession.
Residential Building Surveyor
When you first think of a surveyor, this is the person you’re most likely to think of. The residential building surveyor is the person who will conduct a survey on a property you want to buy, either on your behalf, or on behalf of a financial institution offering a loan or mortgage on the purchase.
Whilst all of this is true, it is a very narrow picture of where a residential building surveyor may work, and what they may do on a day-to-day basis. For example, your estate agent may employ in-house residential surveyors, but they may also work for local authorities or social housing associations, keeping tabs on social housing stock. This sort of work may also see the surveyor looking at other buildings such as schools or community centres. Alternatively, they may work for large housebuilding firms, being involved with a project from start to finish. Another potential task would might be inspecting leasehold apartment blocks.
Once the building surveyor finds a problem, they then inform owners about necessary repairs or maintainance, typically in the form of a professional written report. This is where the residential building surveyor showcases a range of skills, such as advising on maintenance and specific repair issues, helping non-experts understand local property trends in relation to their building, or ensuring compliance with government regulations.
As a residential building surveyor becomes more experienced, they may take a step up to a more senior project management role, overseeing large-scale residential construction projects. An alternative career path is to set up a private surveying firm, perhaps alone, or in partnership with other professionals they have networked with over the years. Freelance building surveying is possible for experienced surveyors as well, where established firms don’t have enough people to complete contracts they’ve won, or where it wouldn’t be worth employing a surveyor full-time.
Being a building surveyor is a responsible, professional occupation, and the salaries on offer are commensurate with this status. A surveyor on a training contract can expect to earn between £21,000 and £27,000. Once you’ve passed your APC (assessment of professional competence) and have earned the AssocRICS title, you can expect a pay bump up to around £30-35,000, depending upon where you are located. After further progression over another five years or so, you are then eligible to try to obtain MRICS status. Again, you should see your pay jump, to around £40-50,000. Beyond this, increases in responsibility equal an increase in pay. Firms in London and the south-east of the UK tend to pay higher salaries, but the higher costs of living in this part of the UK can offset these gains. Those with an entrepreneurial bent can increase their earning power yet further by setting up on their own. Many firms will also have a process for the best people to become partners in the business, in a similar fashion to those in law.
Unlike other professions, such as law, medicine or finance, building surveyors are pretty likely to be home for dinner in the evening and able to sit down with the family. The public sector doesn’t often require its surveyors to work late, but this may happen occasionally in the private sector in the face of looming deadlines. This potential for a better work life balance is key to recruitment in the profession.
Take a look at our Do I Qualify page to see if you could qualify to become a chartered surveyor.