Well, it’s a new year, but not a new start. It’s more of a continued improvement, building on everything I learned last year. It’s not a slow start either, as I’ve got a study day today and am spending my time reading BRE (Building Research Establishment) Digests! I’m looking forward to getting back out with my mentor, James, and inspecting houses.
One thing I haven’t talked about much yet is the level of interaction we have with householders; not because we don’t have any, but simply because I’ve been so excited about what I’ve been seeing.
Customer care is such a fundamental part of the job. And it’s not just about householders. We have daily contact with estate agents, our Area Managers, other surveyors in the area, not to mention our bookers and other teams at e.surv. One thing is for sure, there’s always someone around to help.
If you’ve been following my journey since it began, you might remember me talking about all the surveying equipment I received back in October.
As you might expect, we had lots of kit delivered. What you might not expect are these attractive shoe protectors Oh yes!
But they’re not just there to keep our steel toe-capped Louboutins clean and shiny! Shoe protectors play a vital role in demonstrating our professionalism and respect for people’s homes.
As you can imagine, we spend an awful lot of time walking around the outside of each property and believe me, no one wants you to walk on their lovely cream carpets with dirty feet. People are often pleasantly surprised when you pop a pair of protectors over your shoes.
Some people have asked me if I get lonely when I’m not working with people all the time and I can honestly say the answer is, ‘No’.
During most appointments, you get a chance to chat with homeowners. They’re usually a little nervous, so it’s vital to make them feel comfortable about who we are and what you’re going to do.
It wasn’t something I’d thought about until I started the role, but it’s not exactly normal to have strangers wandering around your house, is it?
We always take the time to introduce ourselves, outline what we’ll be doing, and ask some brief questions that will help us with completing our reports. We’ve found that this helps reduce some of the anxiety that sellers or homeowners feel when we visit.
This week has been interesting – we’ve met some characters.
We valued a property earlier this week at which the vendors had sadly split-up halfway through building an extension. Inspecting the fabric of the building in its raw form was a great experience. But given the sensitivity of the situation, good people skills really helped as both vendors naturally wanted the property to achieve a high selling price. That leads to the inevitable question, “So, what do you think it’s worth?”.
We’ve found the best way to address this age-old question is to advise that if we collate data in the morning, it’s not really until the afternoon once we’ve conducted our research that we can truly answer that question. Vendors often press us for information, so being firm but polite is always the order of the day.
What a day! I’ve been busy reading, and then reading a bit more, interspersed with some videos followed by a bit more reading. Today’s study was on walls, and who’d have thought there was so much to take in!
Our Training team does a great job with the learning materials. We’ve got “essential” reading lists, together with the “supplementary” reading – and then further reading for us to attack when we need to carry out more research.
But it’s not just reading, we have webinars, quizzes and Skype calls, not to mention a good old-fashioned telephone call to a trainer or our mentors for help if we need it.
Today has certainly been an interesting one though, with a large focus on Non-Traditional Housing Construction. This is something it’s essential to be able to spot when out on appointments, so there was a lot of reading for a reason!
It’s going to be weird for me this week, as I’m only out with James for two days. That seems a little strange. We’re so used to going out together daily that weeks like this one are odd.
We were offered tea and coffee at each of our appointments today – something I know we’d both love to accept but normally we politely decline so we can get our appointments done as quickly as possible. You do get into a routine on each valuation, taking routine questions, measuring up, assessing the condition of the house, making sure you take the right pictures, following the lender guidance etc. If you deviate from your routine, it tends to slow you down – it’s vital at this stage to check and double-check that you’ve done everything you need to, to avoid problems with completing reports later in the day.
Yesterday, I mentioned that I was only out with James twice this week – that’s because today, I was at the King Power Stadium in Leicester for one of our regional Colleague Conferences. It’s a great opportunity to network with other surveyors, find out what’s happening in the company, and hear more about the plans for the coming year.
I have to say, Russ had really built up our expectations of the pie that had been served for lunch the previous year – but alas, no pie for us this year! There were, however, some very nice flapjacks in the morning and chocolate chip cookies in the afternoon, so I think he can be forgiven!
I was back out on the road with James today for a full day of appointments. There was a lot to chat about in the car, following yesterday’s conference.
We completed a couple of Buy-to-Let valuations. They’re always interesting as you never quite know what to expect. Sometimes, the tenants know we’re coming, but often they don’t have a clue, so tact and diplomacy is required, not to mention negotiation skills if their landlords haven’t given them the lowdown on why we’re showing up. All in a day’s work.
While James was out at his first appointment of the day, I collected keys from one of the agents before we headed off to our next inspection. It’s always good to try and forge friendly relationships with all the agents as we frequently need to chat with them when researching the property and surrounding area.
Today, it was worth the effort as I ended up needing their help to access a flat when the key fobs weren’t working.
NG7 is an interesting suburb of Nottingham. James told me all about the network of underground caves near the property we were visiting, all of which were dug up during the war. You’d never know you were walking over these vast caverns. It’s made me even more curious, but there’s no means of getting down there to investigate!
I’m not trying to make anyone jealous or anything, but I’m not actually surveying this week. At least not houses, anyway.
I’ve managed to sneak away for a skiing holiday. So, while James is busy checking outhouses, I’ll be checking out the snow…
I did tell you I was on holiday, didn’t I? I can’t go anywhere without appreciating the architecture and I can’t get away without sharing with you a picture of the vaulted ceiling I saw today.
There really are some lovely buildings around the world and it makes you appreciate the variety and of styles and construction techniques.
But back to the ceiling – it’s great, isn’t it?
Back to work today and I’m feeling a bit daunted by the week ahead. I’ve got to get up to speed with the reading having missed a study day on Friday. But hey, the snow was calling, and I couldn’t pass up one final day of R’nR!
Wow! I spent last week at a ski resort, but there’s no way I was as cold then as I have been today. At one stage, I thought my toes were going to fall off!
However, I’ve had more practice with my site plans as I assisted James with a Homebuyers Report. It must have been a decent site plan as James took a photo to include in his report. Result!
I spent some time chatting with a vendor today, while James was measuring up. People are often curious when two of us show up and about the valuation process, as a whole. They’re always pleasantly surprised to hear that we endeavour to complete and sign-off the report on the same day – there’s no flies on us surveyors!
We’ve had a slightly less hectic day today but by no means have we had chance to slack off!
We’re normally in and out of people’s houses in 30 minutes or less, which gives us enough time to fully measure up and record all the aspects of the property we need to consider when deriving a valuation.
That said, when we arrive at one like we did today with multiple extensions, it’s always a challenge working out how best to proceed – practice makes perfect …
I can’t help but think that somehow, today has been somewhat staged, I’ve sat on my study day today, learning about rainwater goods, while it rains steadily outside.
It’s been a good day and I’ve enjoyed learning about the various component parts, how they should be fitted, and working through numerous other facts and figures.
I’ve also spent some time today reviewing what we’ve already learned. I can’t believe we’ve all come so far in such a short space of time. Before we know it, we’ll be submitting to the RICS!
So, now to find a suitable property for my Case Study. No pressure there!
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