Is Surveying A Good Career?

Matt Wilkie carrying out an asset survey for DLGI originally got into surveying by progression within companies. I worked the ground up from engineer and carpenter to supervisor then into contract management and finally into surveying.

Generally the work I carry out is for large corporations and governments. Over the years its offered a lot of good opportunities to travel. As well as much of the work being short to medium term contracts allowing changing between companies for more varied experiences.

The combined knowledge from surveying, FM industry knowledge and social housing maintenance often bring new ideas to companies I do work for.

There are often crossover types of maintenance but often due to the scale and the way companies develop often they have gaps in their systems they can improve on. Generally I try to improve on the business while I am there carrying out my routine roles. Often hired in to difficult roles requiring a lot of commitment to fix problems. For example housing associations where there has been a back log of work build up as well as often a lack of understanding of major projects. Sometimes these problems occur due to a lack of responsibility wanting to be taken that could put peoples jobs at risk.

As a consultant that risk is never there as I am only there short-term but also I am looking to make sure when I leave the business is running better than it was previously. Taking a big chunk out of the projects that people have a habit of putting off as well as clearing the backlog often results in a huge change for the company. Complaints and regular maintenance calls can often be associated with the projects that never seem to get done.

For example a collapsed sewer, the cost of putting a camera down the line, digging up the road as well as sorting out ownership of the pipeline is something I know many people would avoid doing. I on the other hand did all three and eventually seen a problem that had been on going for residents of high rise accommodation for 4 years suddenly finding that the overflowing toilets and other issues were now solved. How do you justify spending over £11,000 on a pipeline repair when your cost cutting expenses for a housing association?

Answer is that the line was constantly being flushed by tankers at least once a week for £200 a time. Based on just £200 a week giving a minimum of £9,600 per year in wasted expense.

Being able to put forward reasons for the repairs, inspection and eventual replacement will often get the jobs passed. In fact never had a job refused yet. At the same time this is more on the side of building surveyor/inspector for local authorities but does also overlap with asset surveying.

A recent project that involves huge quantities of drinking water via a pipeline was losing 3/4 of its supply on its 22km route. The entire line needs surveyed at the same time you can start with the basic tell tale signs. E.g. the lines are in a remote desolate area travelling along the side of it any greenery and signs of life are a giveaway that there is a leak! As there is no other water supply in the area.

The difference between the water supply and the sewer though is although both need justification and costing its much easier to check meter readings on a supply to show how much water is being lost and converting it into a real figure than assumptions of the sewer line. In fact because the company takes daily readings of its water you can get extremely accurate information and even replacing part sections of the water line you will be able to show a difference. Although recommend complete replacement in this case due to the materials used on the original installation.

Ok so there is a couple of examples and if your still interested then your probably interested in a career as a surveyor! But its not all travelling the world or even locally a lot of the work is office based and a lot of reading. Planning, regulations and specifications all need to be adhered to on whatever contract your working with. Also the fact depending where you are working there could be strict codes or none at all. Where there are none at all I generally try to set a high UK standard that often won’t be reached by local labour but gives a goal to aim to.

I enjoy surveying and to be honest I know I enjoy it so much it bores other people when I talk about it so apologies! But its been the bread and butter of the life I have and its given me a very good lifestyle. I have managed to experience many things I may not have done otherwise.