Meet the Surveyor

In our series of guest blogs, we meet those with key roles in the property industry.

Rebecca Jenkins is a Building Surveyor with Sussex Surveyors – you can also find her on Instagram as @the_lady_surveyor.


How did you start your career as a Surveyor?
I had many different roles within the property sector before making a career change to become a Building Surveyor when I was 35. My previous roles included running a Lettings business, managing property and estate agency, so I had great all round experience which really helps in my role as a Surveyor. Qualification wise I did a conversion course to achieve my Masters in Building Surveying – it’s a really good way to do it as the experience in the property industry really does help in delivering a tailored service to clients.

Describe your role as a Surveyor
My role is really varied – sometimes I spend a day at my desk – either at home or in the office, and sometimes I’m out at properties and sites all day. Alongside home buyer and buildings surveys I also carry out major defects analysis, specifications of work reports, party wall surveys and much more! The range of properties we deal with is huge – from new build developments to historic buildings.

What have your biggest challenges been?
One of the biggest ongoing challenges is being able to meet the huge demand for our services. We’ve taken on more staff so that we have more capacity and we haven’t seen a drop in demand for our services yet. The key is managing expectations in terms of turnaround times and operating in a way which is safe for staff and customers alike.
We’ve had to adapt really quickly to lots of regulatory change and of course all the challenges brought by the pandemic. I now work from home more regularly than before, as do the rest of the team. This is great as it allows us to juggle all our life commitments, but we’re careful to make time for team get togethers so that we don’t lose that closeness and cohesion we have as a team.

What changes would you like to see in the house buying / selling process?
This is a difficult one – we see our role as giving reassurance to buyers when they are making the biggest financial commitment they are likely to ever make. It’s great when buyers instruct us early on in the process. What I would like to see are more measures in place so that neither party can pull out of the transaction without a penalty either once an offer is accepted or once monies have been spent in good faith on the process. 
It would be great to see the buying/selling transaction speed up but I don’t think Home Information Packs, or a similar iteration that is provided and paid for by the Vendor, are necessarily the answer as all surveys really are tailored to the particular needs of the buyer, their circumstances and what they have planned for the property.

If surveys were commissioned by vendors there may be concern on the part of purchasers that they’re just not impartial enough and may omit crucial detail which may influence a purchaser’s choice to proceed. What vendors could do before they put their property on the market is get everything in order –things like an electrical installation condition reports, gas safety certificate, be aware of any warranties or guarantees that remain valid and ensure they have any applicable building reg certificates. Getting these prepared upfront will mean that they won’t get flagged as a potential hazard in the survey report. Also, Vendors should feel comfortable to be honest about any existing issues with their property. The Surveyor isn’t there to cause the sale to fall through or get the price reduced, we’re there to help the purchaser make an informed decision. We will almost certainly find the defects and without the Vendors knowledge on the extent of the problem or experience in efforts to resolve it we are likely to be much stronger in our caution over it in our report.


What do you think is in store for the property market in the next 12 months?
There’s certainly so much talk about what will happen in the next year and talk about a recession. Prices appear to be artificially inflated at the moment because of the huge demand and low supply. I believe people want different things from their homes as lifestyles have changed following the pandemic. People’s working patterns are likely to have changed, they want room for a home office, or spare bedrooms so that family can move in if they need to, they want gardens or outside space if they are going to spend more time at home. My concern right now is whether, with the increased costs of living (fuel, utilities, food) people find that they have overstretched themselves with the property purchases they’ve made over the last few years.

So inevitably the market will slow down – with people feeling the pinch they might be more likely to stay put and improve their current property rather than move. Increasing energy prices mean that a new property brings the unknown in terms of how much it’ll cost to heat and run, so there’s an added incentive to stay put where you know the costs.

The dip we are likely to experience now is no doubt the recession we were due to have prior to the pandemic – it’s just been delayed by a couple of years. The government measures put in place helped to stave it off and I hope that, in the event of a recession, there will be sensible measures put in place to protect people, their homes and their livelihoods.