Case study

Chartered (residential) surveyor — Clare Nait-Ahmed Groom

Clare studied for a Masters to enable her to work as a residential surveyor in her parent's business. Discover what a typical day is like as a surveyor

How did you get your surveying job?

I work at my parents' building surveying company. They offered me a job a few years after my undergraduate degree and I’ve continued my studies (while working) to gain the necessary professional certification to become a chartered surveyor.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My undergraduate degree in French and ergonomics, studied at Aston University, is not directly relevant to my work but I went on to study for an MA Property and Building Surveying at Nottingham Trent University, which is a RICS accredited conversion course.

The content of my Masters is entirely relevant as it covered lots of general surveying subjects, which I have needed to draw from in my working practice. Including subjects like project management and quantity surveying and also more specific and focused optional modules, such as health and safety and building defect analysis.

Completing this course also meant I would be able to start my APC immediately - the route to becoming a chartered surveyor.

What are your main work activities?

I have flexible working hours, between 10am to 3pm, because I have young children. If I have a deadline or a client query however, I will work any spare hours I can find. I usually work from home or at my office - based in my parent's house.

My working day is generally office based - answering client calls, diary arrangement, preparing quotes for clients, invoicing as well as writing up reports. I'm responsible for carrying out the Quinquennial inspection and associated report for the Methodist churches of two districts. These are the five-yearly building surveys that must be done to ensure the safety of the buildings. I look after about 30 churches. I inspect two a month, which means I carry out inspections for about four days a month and spend the rest of the time typing up the reports.

The work I do for my parents' company (such as church inspections and measuring for extensions) is currently more aligned to building surveying. Soon however, the company will start offering the services more closely associated with residential surveying, at which point I'll be carrying out homebuyer reports - and valuations once I've completed my training.

How has your role developed?

Now I have children my working day has become shorter and more local, previously I would travel the country to different sites. That's why I decided to qualify as a residential surveyor rather than a building surveyor. This role is less physical and means I can be nearer to home.

I'm in the process of qualifying as a residential valuer through SAVA, which runs a Diploma in Residential Surveying & Valuation. This means I will be able to carry out all levels of survey from a full building survey to a Homebuyer's Survey as well as providing clients with a property valuation.

What do you enjoy most about residential surveying?

I like the variety in my job. One day, I can be in overalls in the roof void of a listed church building and the next, in someone's house, measuring up for an extension. It can be challenging, but that makes it interesting.

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

Juggling the workload and fitting it into the working day can be challenging.

Also, keeping on top of changes to regulations - but I try to choose relevant CPD to keep updated.

What are your top tips for choosing a Masters?

I specifically chose a Masters degree that would enable me to undertake the APC and therefore lead me to a profession. I would recommend asking for a breakdown of the subject areas that will be studied, so you can be sure they are relevant.

What words of advice can you give to someone wanting to get into this job?

Get work experience before starting to study - this will make the subjects much more tangible and therefore a lot easier to understand. I called up local offices and people were happy to help.

Networking and finding support is vital. Just get out there and let people see your face and know that you're on the scene and interested. Find a mentor - surveyors gain CPD points for mentoring so are happy to offer their time. A mentor is needed for the APC process too, so it will be invaluable later.

Once people get to know you, that you're interested in a career in surveying, they will want to help. You may need to chase them as they'll be busy. There is a definite shortage of newcomers into the profession, especially women, so the opportunities will be there.

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