1st May 2020
From Estate Agent to Surveyor: How a non-traditional route into construction can pay dividends

Andrea Rhoden, Finishing and Quality Surveyor at Rund shares her thoughts on how working in industries outside of construction can aid a successful future career in the sector.

“A career in construction can so often be misconstrued as being incredibly specialist. It is a common misconception that people have to build up specific skillsets and experience to work in the construction industry – so transferring from a different industry seems like a long and daunting process. What people don’t realise is that a non-traditional route into construction can give you a whole host of transferable skills to help your career flourish.

“For example, a background in property, whilst not specific to actual construction can have many benefits and offer an insight into the industry. This is true of estate agency, and whilst involving completely different day-to-day roles, can offer transferable skills and experience for a career in construction.

“Before entering the construction industry, I worked as an estate agent, with my role involving liaising with landlords and tenants, as well as conducting market appraisals, and, valuations. These included various elements of inspection, such as determining a property’s overall condition, highlighting specific interior and exterior issues and comparing the property to other houses within the area.

“It transpired that it wasn’t really the right job for me – it was a very competitive and sales-orientated market, and I wanted something more stable and hands-on. However, the role did spark my general interest in property and the foundations behind it, so after researching new careers, an option which caught my eye was a Building Surveying course at London South Bank University.

“Looking back at the different skills I learned as an estate agent, I can see how I’ve been able to use them to my advantage and help me get to where I am today as a Finishing and Quality Surveyor. Attention to detail is a key skill that I developed by carrying out detailed property valuations. This is of paramount importance in my current role, as I’m responsible for monitoring the quality, specification compliance and progressions of project works – ultimately, so that high standards of quality in construction can be achieved.

“One particularly transferable skill I developed whilst working as an estate agent was attentive communication. Having excellent communication skills is essential in my current role, in order to deliver high standards of quality in construction. I frequently liaise with clients and in-house contractors to ensure our projects are compliant, and as I’m on-site daily, both clear and concise communication is key to ensure everything is delivered to a high standard. What’s more, communication skills are vital in ensuring that clients’ expectations are managed throughout the entire project.

“Another key skill I learned as an estate agent is organisation, as I was having to effectively negotiate, communicate and work with numerous clients at once. Developing organisational skills helps improve lateral thinking and foreseeing any potential issues, which is essential in my current role in order to help deliver projects on time, on budget and to their highest quality. My role at Rund is particularly diverse as I’m working with an array of different clients and projects with different objectives, so having the skills to stay on top of these is incredibly important.

“In addition, the art of negotiation is something that rings true with both estate agents and those who work in the construction industry. Whilst as an estate agent you learn when to offer compromises and contest standpoints, as a Finishing and Quality Surveyor, I have to negotiate with various parties to ensure the project objectives are all met.

“It’s safe to say that a non-traditional route into construction can help give you life-long skills to aid your career in many years to come. In the future, I want to specialise even more in quality control, ensuring that the highest quality is delivered in every single project from beginning to end. This will come with challenges along the way of course, such as thorough management of client expectations – but my prior experience as an estate agent has allowed me to build the confidence and skills needed to tackle these challenges. I’m excited to see the next few years unfold as I carry on my career path journey and expand on my current skillset even further.”

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