Published on: 18th February 2019
Chris is a building surveyor in our Leeds office and has worked at Sanderson Weatherall for just over 14 years, we recently sat down with him to discuss his career so far and what he makes of the future of building surveying.
What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?
I have two types of day:
Office: I am an early riser so start the day at 7:45 or earlier. When I get in the office I make myself a cup of tea, clear the outstanding emails that have come in overnight and then keep the building projects I am running on course. This can vary between preparing drawings or specifications, sorting out outstanding matters from a site visit or dealing with new queries.
Site Visits: Travelling to a job is usually time-consuming and so I prefer to take the train which gives me the opportunity of processing some paperwork at the same time. The remaining time is usually spent wearing away my shoes walking around the property taking details and identifying any problems, as well as meeting with contractors and agreeing solutions.
What is your favourite building in the region, and why?
I don’t have any particular building in mind, but I really enjoy working on historical buildings. I have inspected many buildings that are hundreds of years old and never cease to be fascinated by their construction methods and detailing. I can spend too much time on one of those inspections as I get totally engrossed.
Tell me about one of the standout projects that you have been involved in.
The most challenging and satisfying projects I have worked on was the Café and Conference Centre project at Derby for LCR. This involved creating an entirely new food preparation facility in an existing refectory whilst still keeping the existing facility operational. It involved phasing the work and good communication between all parties. We also incorporated various energy reduction measures to make the property as efficient as possible.
What does the future look like in the building consultancy industry?
There are a number of challenges coming up and Building Surveyors are well experienced in adapting to changes. Green matters are becoming more and more relevant not just to new buildings but the renovation of older properties. Unfortunately, not all clients take this attitude and so the challenge is to demonstrate that it is in the long-term interests of the client that their property is brought up to modern energy standards.
What would you change to influence the future of the industry?
Movement away from FRI leases to place the responsibility for maintenance of building on the Landlord and give a longer-term focus on maintenance and energy consumption. There is no incentive for a tenant to undertake improvement to the building that will one be of real benefit after the lease expires.
If you could give one piece of business advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Look at your strengths. Not just in your chosen profession but globally and build on those strengths. Don’t wait – do it now!
Do you predict technology taking over the job of a building surveyor?
When I started, all work was prepared on typewriters and there was great excitement on the arrival of a FAX machine. Although the core job of inspecting buildings and preparing reports has changed little over what is now close 40 years the method of undertaking that work is totally different.
I don’t see IT taking over the writing of reports on the type of one-off inspections we undertake. The client requires a clear concise summary of all the defects in a building and, most importantly, links these together as necessary. Without machines learning how to undertake the inspections and linking the cause with the effect then technology cannot take it any further than it does at present. Identifying a defect in the roof and linking it with dampness in a room internally cannot be done by machine but is crucial to a good report.