You may believe that being a building surveyor is a boring and uneventful occupation but this can often be far from the truth. There are occasions that make you want to laugh, cry and definitely cringe with sheer embarrassment and sometime horror.
I have listed just a few funny and sometimes bizarre incidents that have happened to me while on Building Surveys.
1. Crawling through a dark loft space and coming face to face with the doll from Chucky, it gave me nightmares for a week.
2. Looking out of a child’s window and seeing a sea of used nappies on the flat roof outside.
3. Surveying a confined loft space and banging your head on a live wasp’s nest. You don’t realise how fast you can move until you need to!
4. The joys of lifting manholes and finding the sewer has been blocked for a week and you wish you had no sense of smell.
5. Being told by the estate agent “the lock is a bit stiff, you need to use a bit of force” snapping the key in the lock with the dawning realisation you been turning the key the wrong way – not the best start to the day!
6. Being told by the home owner that he removed the roof truss web supports in the loft so he could use it for storage, but he has no idea why his roof has started to sag.
7. Trying not to make eye contact with the vendor after finding certain toys in a prominent position on their bedside table.
8. Spending three hours with an over friendly Chihuahua with the vendor saying, “oh he really likes you!” – “Yes, my leg knows!”.
9. Being told by the agent that the Vendors not home, opening the door and finding the vendor running down the stairs half naked with a bat in hand thinking you’re a burglar. First rule of surveying “never believe the agent and always knock first”.
10. Being bought in to ascertain the cause of rotten and de-bonded window boards, having the vendor insisting that watering the pot plant with no saucers beneath has nothing to do with the issue and it must be rising damp.
11. Drenched from head to foot looking like a drowned rat trying to explain to the vendor you were just testing the shower, not having one.
12. Looking into a roof void and finding the partially removed chimney breast are being held up by a couple of bookshelf brackets and twigs - “So much for Building Control”.
13. Contractors digging a basement below a three-storey building, four metres deep and three metres wide with no shoring or support and wondering why I am shouting at them to get out of the hole. They see no apparent problem with this as they do it all the time. They must have divine protection or believe in reincarnation because you won’t get me down that hole.
Being a building surveyor may not always be the most interesting or exciting of jobs but as you can see there are occasions that make my work that little bit more interesting! The extraordinary events that can some time befall you can make you wonder why you keep doing the job. However, its these unforeseen events and the people you meet while you’re doing your job that keep you engaged and enjoying building surveying.
Christian Howe, Managing Director at Howe Chartered Surveyors