Surveyor Diaries: Sarah – ‘Two Months In…’ - e.surv Surveyors

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Surveyor Diaries: Sarah – ‘Two Months In…’

We’re almost at the end of December and our resident Surveyor-in-training, Sarah Shanks-Pell has just completed her third month of intensive training.

We’re almost at the end of December and our resident Surveyor-in-training, Sarah Shanks-Pell has just completed her third month of intensive training.

A few weeks ago, she bounded into the office to join her fellow graduate trainees for their latest workshop and dropped off the latest excerpt from her diary. It was great to hear all about her adventures over the past month, even if the floor plan exercise still gives her nightmares …

1 November

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We completed our first full study day today and I’m still really enjoying my Trainee experience. Although I must confess, for a couple of hours today, not so much! 

One of our tasks today was to produce a floor plan and prepare measurements for our own homes. Well, I drew the short straw there, didn’t I? I’ve always loved our house, for all it’s quirks and odd angles. Hmmm, today I didn’t, and I apologise to any surveyor – without an iPad – who has ever had the pleasure of measuring up and sketching out our house. However, due to challenges of my first attempt, my drawing and measuring skills are on the up, so that’s a bonus.

This is just a small section of my first attempt – before I finished and without many of the measurements on. I have to say, this was also one of the many that was thrown away in a fit of temper after I’d made a mistake. I’m not a natural artist and it’s a skill I intend to improve.

4 November

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It occurred to me recently while out with my mentor, James, just how many little jobs around the house need doing but have implications that few of us tenants or homeowners really understand.

What may appear to be a small repair could well contribute to more significant issues at a later date. I took this photo earlier today and I’m fairly sure I’ll see this situation again in a different property. 

5 November

Today was interesting. As a little challenge, James asked me to complete a manual mock inspection, then complete my SCTs so we could compare results. It was so useful to see how much I’d learnt after just one month. Onwards and upwards!

6 November

When we complete a mortgage valuation report, we are generally asked to record the percentage of roofing that is flat. One of the properties we visited today had a 100% flat roof and it was clear why it’s so important to maintain these structures regularly. It’s been very wet recently and the top of the roof was like a swimming pool, although not quite deep enough to jump into. Not mid-morning exercise for me then!

8 November

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I’m hitting the books again today after some annual leave yesterday. I’m feeling fresh and ready to fill my brain with lots of new facts and information. It’s going to be a big topic today as I don’t want to ahem, “crack up”. Any guesses? Okay, bad joke, I know. Today, we’re looking at Structural Movement and while this isn’t a property we inspected, James spotted a property he thought I might find interesting to look at. He does look after me : )

11 November

I shouldn’t really say this, but the rain is great for identifying defects! We’ll be looking at damp and condensation a later this week and it really is the weather for identifying issues with rainwater goods. Good weather for ducks – and surveyors.

12 November

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The best advice I could give anyone joining our trainee surveying programme is to make sure you ask your mentor to point out defects to you as they go along. My mentor, James, does this as a matter of course but it’s so easy to miss things.

That said, today, I didn’t need glasses to see what might have been going wrong here. Internal walls had been removed as well as a potential case of sulphate attack, making this once straight and proud chimney a little bit curvier and twisted in the process!

13 November

Something you may not anticipate having to deal with as a surveyor is difficult people. Today, we encountered a fairly aggressive tenant who didn’t appreciate having to allow us access to carry out a valuation in his home. Customer care is everything, and tact and diplomacy skills are a real must in our role. 

14 November

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I was positively hopping up and down with excitement today after this roof space inspection.

It was my first sighting of foam insulation, which I thought I’d share for your delight …

15 November

Today was our study day on, ‘Dampness and Condensation’. There was so much information to take in and I’m having to be fastidious about recording my CPD to make sure I’m not in a panic come submission time. That’s good practice for surveyors.

I was working on a project with Tom, which we presented by webinar later in the afternoon. Our knowledge was then tested by two other trainees, Ben and Andy, who asked questions following our presentation. It’s a great way to learn and it gives us experience about presenting our findings and talking knowledgeably about issues.

18 November

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While many days follow a similar format, there’s always something interesting to look at. Here’s a great example of a date plaque on a Victorian terraced house, I couldn’t make head nor tail of it at first but then I saw the pattern.

These properties really were built to last and this one had stupendously high ceilings – a great start to the day!

19 November

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My cellar obsession won over again today when I saw this great example of a honeycomb sleeper wall. Sadly, some of the beauty of this has been wantonly destroyed but it was good to see, nonetheless. It has to be said though, there was great ventilation throughout the cellar, perhaps the driest one I’ve seen yet.

20 November

I’ve spent a good proportion of my day today catching up on reading for our Study Day tomorrow. We’re concentrating on Timber Defects and Decay this week – such a massive topic. Something tells me I’ll be reading all this over again. Eyes down……

21 November

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I almost thought I was in the Wild West today; the cowboys have been out in force! Suffice it to say, I’ll just let the rest of the pictures do the talking. Dear oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!

23 November

I’m packing my bags again today, getting ready to pop down to our Head Office in Kettering again. I’m looking forward to catching up with my fellow Trainees and to learning more about the various functions carried out at Head Office. 

24 November

It’s been an interesting day. We’ve had training from two experts on Asbestos and Ladders. I have to say, I preferred the asbestos training to the ladders but perhaps that’s because it’s something that are always looking out for. It was also good to see some familiar and friendly faces of colleagues in and around the offices and at our hotel.

25 November

We’ve spent time today with our Customer Care team, having a read through some of their files and generally learning more about how they can help our clients and also look after the surveying workforce. It’s been a really interesting and eye-opening day.

26 November

We’ve met so many helpful and knowledgeable colleagues today, having spent time with the Risk & Audit Team, Booking, Post Valuation Queries, Post Valuation Technical Queries, Valuation Service Coordinators, Work Allocation and Client Services. Thanks for all your help everyone! 

27 November

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I think today is the day that most of us Trainees have been looking forward– we got our iPads today and while we’ve all seen our mentors’ iPads and enjoyed having a quick look around the software, we’ve finally received ours and we’re all so excited.

Ash from our Learning and Development team spent time helping us navigate around the software and giving us lots of handy hints and tips to make it as easy as possible. We’re now just itching to get going, not to mention all desperate to see our families again. Homeward bound…

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