Building Surveyor

Girl Did Good - Life After Lessons

Name: Gemma

Job title: Chartered Building Surveyor

What exactly is that?

I am qualified to survey your house on behalf of a potential buyer to see what the potential problems could be, point out ways to fix them and advise on specific things they may want to do with the house such as build an extension.

This isn’t even half of what I am qualified to do though, i can project manage construction jobs – anything from £25,000 upwards – they sky is the limit depending on who you are working for and this will consist of putting together a proposal for a clients requirements – drawings, specification schedule of works etc and submitting planning and building control applications, asking contractors to tender for a job, analysing that tender and recommending a winning tender to the client, issuing contracts, organising meetings and minutes, site visits and checking specific works have been completed by certain dates to ensure they can be paid – the list goes on and on. You can work for a big contractor, or local authority in the planning department for e.g., social housing, a private developer or even for yourself!

How did you get there?

I decided to go and do an MSc in Building Surveying after finishing my first degree in I.T and business and i found myself working in the box office at a local theatre. I managed to get myself on a secondment in the planning department of the Local Authority who owned the theatre and found i really enjoyed it so went for it.

My MSc was done part time on the job and it was hard. I had to work Saturdays to make up the time i missed during the week and because I attended a university in London there was a lot of train travel and sitting on train platforms bored out of my mind on dark cold nights.

It was worth it though because as soon as I graduated i moved jobs and found myself climbing the career ladder quite quickly. I always made sure my work ethic was spot on and it took me about a year before i felt comfortable and confident in my role but i got there in the end.

Give us a picture of a typical day for you.

I have a bit of a commute – its approx an hour door to door on a good day so I’m up at 6am, i do a quick workout, anything from HIIT to yoga or i go for a run, i have a shower and get ready for work and i’ll be out of the door by 7:30. I’ll get to work by approx 8:30, have breakfast at my desk and go through my emails.

If i don’t have any site visits that day i’ll be working on meeting minutes or organising my next meeting or sorting out a payment for a contractor or looking at a new job that’s come in, i can be working on anything up to 15 projects at a time so its always the same procedure but always something new.

If i do have a site visit, i’ll make sure i have all the kit i need, site boots, hard hat, hi vis jacket etc – most contractors provide everything but the site boots – its hard to get size 5 site boots! so it makes the commute to site a bit easier especially if you have to go by public transport. Some of my projects will be in London somewhere and i hate driving in London so prefer to get the train.

Lunch will be on the run some where – it may even be in a contractors site office if I’m in the middle of a site visit or meeting and then i’ll head back to the office. Or if I’m in the office there’s always something going on – we help colleagues get through their APC and we will hold lunch time practice sessions etc which is always a good way to review your own knowledge as well and we have to do 20 hours Continual Professional Development (CPD) so we might have a guest delivering a lunch time CPD session or something.

I usually finish work at approx 5:30/6pm and i’ll head home for dinner, tv and bed!

What’s the best thing about what you do?

The best thing is the feeling of freedom you can have. Im not stuck in the office all day and i’ll meet loads of different people and see lots of different places i wouldn’t have ordinarily. Also, its great to know I’m a woman working in what is still regarded as a man’s industry. It’s great to see a huge burley contractor not know how to take me when we first meet but when they get to know me and realise i’ll muck in with the guys they’re fine with me and i have never had a problem with any man assuming i can’t do the job.

What one thing would you change if you could?

The commute sucks, especially if i then have to go to the office, collect a colleague and then drive somewhere else.

What did you want to do for a living when you were younger?

A dancer or dance teacher. I spent all my spare time dancing.

Tell us about one thing you were insecure about when you were younger and what you did about it if anything.

I was shy but i kind of just got on with my own thing at school and then went to dancing in the evenings.

What advice would you give yourself at 18 if you could?

Its not all about your A Level results or what uni you go to. There’s a real world out there – why don’t you go and explore it!

What’s your favourite thing to do in your spare time?

I live by the sea so we try to visit the beach as much as possible. Other than that its about spending time with friends and family.

What’s the title of the last book you read?

The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

Share one beauty tip with us.

Eat your greens! And drink lots of water

Share one money tip with us.

If you can’t pay back the whole of the balance on your credit card every month you shouldn’t have one and store cards are for losers. Oh and start saving for the deposit on your first house NOW!

Share one life lesson.

You can’t always please all of the people all of the time and at the end of the day yes you need to consider others but you also need to put yourself first sometimes.

Tell us about your recent favourite purchase under £25

I am trying to reduce the amount of chemicals i use and i recently bought a gorgeous glass jar and filled it with sugar, coconut oil, some epsom salts and lime oil and made my first body scrub. It smells amazing and is great for waking myself up in the mornings.

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