Suzanne Hatswell: Tell us about yourself.
Alex Pope: I graduated from Sheffield Hallam University in June 2011 and joined Faithful+Gould in September 2011 as a graduate building surveyor. I am based in the Euston Tower office in London, on the 31st floor.
I am currently on the Graduate Development Programme, working towards the completion of my APC, to gain RICS membership. This programme provides support and guidance to graduates in gaining their profession accreditation.
SH: What are you working on just now?
AP: I am part of a national team providing building surveying and project management services for a major banking client as part of a framework agreement. This makes up around half of the workload I am currently involved with.
As a graduate building surveyor the week of work is extremely varied, I spend on average 50% of the week in the office and the other 50% on site, carrying out surveys, inspections, attending site meetings etc.
I am currently in the early stages of running a refurbishment project at a London Theatre with minimal supervision from my line manager.
SH: Is it interesting?
AP: I find the role very interesting; the constant changing nature of the workload keeps me on my toes. The broad variety of competencies covered by a building surveyor means that you can be working on anything from party wall issues between domestic residences to carrying out a condition survey on city centre office or undertaking an inspection at industrial units. As part of the building surveying team in London I have been exposed to many clients and projects in which I have increasing involvement and responsibility.
SH: Why is the building surveying service so important?
AP: Building surveying provides an in depth analysis of all elements to existing buildings for clients. In many instances the building surveyor can be the first person a client is exposed to and therefore the relationship between them is paramount. A comprehensive understanding of a client’s requirements and business case along with a professional delivery of service throughout often encourages clients to use the business again, sometimes for additional services such as CDM-C and sustainability.
SH: What's good about the projects you are working on?
AP: As a part of the building surveyor team in London I have a wide range of projects available to me. The different roles a building surveyor takes on across a variety of projects helps you increase your knowledge base very quickly. The level of responsibility at an early stage is exciting and I find my line manager is always keen for me to progress to the next level.
SH: Are you enjoying this work and why?
AP: Absolutely! Since joining Faithful+Gould I have worked on lots of projects, the London team is brilliant at making sure that your work load is varied so you have a good exposure and understanding over all competencies in conjunction with APC training. I have recently had the opportunity to support the Nottingham office on a part time basis, to help deliver projects for local authorities. This is another example of how the work can take you to new places and to meet new people.
SH: How is your career progressing?
AP: Faithful+Gould provides a comprehensive structure in which to encourage graduates to thrive in the working environment. This in conjunction with a good relationship with my line manager has helped provide the variety and depth of work required to progress well with my APC. I am approaching the nine month review of my APC programme and already feel more confident in my ability within the profession since joining Faithful+Gould.
SH: What is the social life like?
AP: Throughout my first year there has been lots of opportunity to get involved with the social events organised here. The office summer party and the annual quiz were my personal highlights. The graduates took 1st place in the quiz much to the delight of our newly founded co-workers. I have also attended the events organised within our building surveying team, a welcomed addition to any working week. We have competed against contractors in both 5-aside football games and go-karting.
SH: What hours do you work?
AP: The office hours are 09.00 to 17.30. From time to time there are requirements for me to be on site early, or a requirement for me to travel a long distance to site. Some days I do a lot of travelling, it could be worse; I could be stuck in the office all week. Travelling around London is usually very easy. The hours I work do vary because of the location of some sites, this is something I have accepted and it doesn’t really bother me.
SH: What made you choose building surveying over any other career?
AP: Building surveying for me offers far greater diversity of projects and clients than most disciplines within the built environment. I have had the opportunity to work on projects that offer a large amount of responsibility and different challenges from week to week. At any stage within a project a building surveyor can have an integral role to play; in the initial design stage - understanding the clients' exact requirements, in the construction phase - managing multiple contractors against time and cost restrictions, or the delivered end product - managing the clients’ expectations to achieve an outcome suitable for its purpose. Building surveying allows you to see an entire project from conception to completion.
SH: What has been the highlight of your time with Faithful+Gould so far?
AP: Working in London with a top consultancy is a fantastic start to my career and my highlight would probably be the chance of running my first project with minimal assistance from managing surveyors. I have a small refurbishment project at a major events venue in Central London which is also a Grade II listed building. I have managed the project from the design stage, through the tender process and am currently about to commence on site.