Building surveyor as a second career

mess pres

I am coming to the end of a career in the military and am looking at my options for resettlement.

I have come across MSc courses in building surveying and am considering something in this sector as a second career. I enjoy meeting people, travelling about and obviously I am interested in architecture, and design.

Clearly getting experience will be key as this will be a move into a new sector.

I am wondering is there anyone on Arrse who is in this sector /taken this route, if so I would appreciate your thoughts.
I’m not a surveyor but I’ve known a few over the years partly through my previous career in local government.

Building surveyors are used by local authorities to manage their own properties including those that they rent out to the public. Mainly shops on housing estates and so on.

They are also used in a building inspection function where they monitor small construction projects such as house extensions being built on properties in the local authorities area. That’s a statutory function and can involve issuing various notices if a project isn’t being built according to regulations but it’s mostly just monitoring that regulations are adhered to and giving minor advice or instructions where it may be needed.

Working for a local authority in these roles isn’t a bad career. The salary can vary from lower mid range, mid range to upper mid range for local government management and there are chances of promotion to supervisory roles that occasionally come along if you want to apply for and be interviewed for them.

Another plus is that you also get to join the local government pension scheme which although it isn’t a final salary scheme now is still a good scheme especially for those who have earned higher salaries in their work.

There are of course plenty of other opportunities in the private sector for building surveyors. They are as far as I know all reasonably well salaried but it’s not an area where I can make any detailed comment.
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If you work in the private sector you must understand that you will be required to make detailed reports on a “patient’s” health but you will only be able to look and touch the skin of the patient!

mess pres

Thankyou both for the replies. Very useful did not consider the LA route. That opens up some more avenues to investigate.
In addition, does anyone have experience of getting into this without a construction background?
Happy to have a chat. I'm a charted building surveyor and engineer (a sponsored STRE was my second career).

Local authority is good. It's how I started many years ago originally as a land surveyor. Building surveying or building control are still options BUT many local authorities use consultants, outsource work or self employed Surveyors working on contract.

Private practice is a meat grinder. You're only as good as you're last project and if the client gets pissy, the senior partners get pissy...with you.

An MSc is good
I have an ONC, HNC, BSc and a post graduate in building conservation. They get you in the door as a junior to start your professional competency. You will not progress until you get chartered and that means the silk tie, pin stripped suited Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and you'll need documented experience (projects, reports, specifications, diagnosis). I passed first time. Most don't and return a year later. ( I was lucky, land survey, local authority, police force (looking after property) building society (looking after planned maintenance, then all maintenance then all the property and RE reserve, still quite young and a student member of local RICS committee.You had to play the game.

If you get up the food chain it's good. If you end up in a practice where you are running round juggling client's budgets, requirements, legislation, contractors and bastard senior partners it's not so good and until you are chartered unless you can get in with local authority you are at the bottom.

It's like diferent regiments/corps. Some good, some fun, some full of bullshit.

I have RICS, FCABE and CBuildE but that took a lot and you're always learning.

As said above, you often have to diagnose without opening the patient (or lifting the bonnet to explain why the car won't start) and that needs experience.

I've just spent two days going over a £6m mansion with a structural engineer. We were feeding off each other trying to work out the history and condition and issues for the client. It would have been easy to have missed the asbestos the owners had covered up.

Happy to chat
Can I just ask what degree you currently have? I’m about 98% certain that most employers would want a full undergraduate degree in a construction discipline. I have just completed my BSc (Hons) in Quantity Surveying (QS), and I have just started my PhD (it turns out I’m a geek).

If you want to be an academic, do the MSc/PhD; if you want to do it as a career, do the BSc. Unless you have lots of building experience, you could just top up with the MSc. The best thing to do would be to phone a potential employer and ask what they would accept.

Degree apprenticeships are an excellent option; you basically get paid whilst learning. I think it takes five years to do. But as the undergraduate degree takes between three to four years (if you do a placement year), an additional year is not much more. Lots of firms and local authorities are part of this scheme.

Also, why building surveying? I know I’m biased, but QS is an option; there are more QS jobs than QS’s, and the pay can be six figures if you work in London. Then you have a multitude of other specialisms; you can even specialise in property development.

And finally, what university are you thinking of attending?

mess pres

Thanks all for the replies. Lots of food for thought.

To answer the questions above....

My degree and msc are both non-construction related. This would be a total career change into a new sector. So I Would be starting from scratch. I am currently in healthcare.

I have had a look at the Rics website and read around the APC, very enlightening. I did not realise that the profession had so many specialist disciplines.

There are a few options for MSc courses one is a UWE and the other is at Northumberland. I share the concerns about that a MSc may not give me enough background knowledge to realistically get a entry level/APC pathway/graduate entry job with a firm-which as far as I see it is absolutely key to becoming chartered. However looking on LinkedIn there seem to be folks who have managed it with seemingly just a MSc and a unrelated BSc. Whether they are exceptions to a rule is unclear.

I will contact some firms and see what they say.

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