A Day in the Life of an Apprentice Quantity Surveyor

A Day In My Life…

Hi, I'm Louise, Apprentice Quantity Surveyor (QS) at Faithful+Gould, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group. Many people think a career in construction doesn't have many opportunities, but it's really a vibrant industry. I collaborate with numerous professionals and tradespeople, creating buildings that many groups of people will enjoy for years to come.

Today's off to a sweet start.

I started my day at the Cambridge Office, where it's our monthly 'feel-good' day. Because it's also Shrove Tuesday, the marketing team sent out pancakes with lots of toppings. Little things like this create such a fun, dynamic work environment. So, after a Nutella and banana pancake, I dived into my emails and to-do list.

Making a difference to the wider team

One of the emails was from Tom, who works in an office on the opposite end of the country. Although I've never met him in person, we're collaborating on the same project and always try to help each other out. We stay in touch regularly to ensure our client benefits from a consistent approach across the business. 

After answering some of Tom's queries, a calendar alert popped-up to remind me to look at our office defibrillator. I'm one of the Cambridge Office's first aiders – we share various tasks, such as checking expiry dates on first aid kits or making sure emergency equipment is in working order.

Lending my expertise to get the job done

We have so many exciting projects on the go here. They range from universities to schools, hospitals and hotels. We all chip in and help each other out when necessary, ensuring documents are checked and issued. There's a real sense of enjoyment from knowing that everyone is pulling together to make every project a success. 

Today, Bob asked me to check an important document for a local primary school we're working on. It's a cost estimate that covers the entire project so the client can decide if they would like to proceed. I checked for errors in the calculations, as well as formatting and spelling. After this was authorized, Bob sent it off to the client. 

"I love working for an employer that encourages me to develop in my job role and take on responsibilities."

My next interesting challenge was a client query about a defect on a live project, asking what grounds we had to challenge it. My initial thought was, "I'm not sure" The contract documents were prepared before I came on to the project. So, I searched through them to check the specs, cost of works, and how much it may cost to rectify. 

 

Support whenever I need it

 

At Faithful+Gould, I'm always able to reach out to someone more experienced for support. We hot desk, and today I happened to be sitting next to my line manager, Michelle. She always offers me a perspective I hadn't considered or points me in the right direction. She also gives me the freedom to carry out the work myself and use my initiative. After a short chat, I replied to the client with my thoughts, attaching supporting, relevant documents. And we agreed to discuss it at the next site meeting.

"I love taking ownership of projects and really getting to know them inside out, so I can give advice to clients and other members of the team. It feels great knowing I've helped people and carried out my job well."

Lunch with a serving of well-being

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I always try to go for a walk on my lunch break. But today was cold and drizzly, so I ate lunch with Alice in the 'Wellbeing Zone.' It's a lovely space our mental health first aiders, Emma and Harriet, created with activities to encourage us to take a break and relax. We chatted a lot and worked on the office jig-saw, which left me feeling happy and recharged before my site visit.

A tricky valuation assessment

The site in Peterborough is a secondary school, where we're building a new three-storey classroom block and playground area. The new build is a clever modular structure. The modules are being made in a factory, with all the walls, floors, windows and even radiators pre-fitted. We'll connect these all on-site before the electrics, carpet, ceiling tiles, etc. are installed. 

I did the walk around with the Contractor QS. My purpose was to assess their works and whether they were entitled to payment. After the inspection, I knew that the works were not complete, and therefore could not be paid for under the contract. 

It can sometimes be uncomfortable to disagree with someone in the project team. But my priority is doing the right thing and carrying out my role to the best of my abilities. By discussing my thoughts with the Contractor QS and explaining the reasons why I couldn't certify the payment, hostility and conflict were avoided.

 

So at the end of my day I can say…

I love my job because no two days are ever the same. I may be on site for the morning, afternoon, a whole day, or not at all. My office is in Cambridge, but I sometimes work from the London Office, and I can work from home if I need to. I have so many opportunities on a range of projects, working with so many different teams. I don't think it's possible to get bored with this much momentum and variety! 

If you'd like to read more about what I do and how I became a Degree Apprentice in Quantity Surveying, check out my Faithful+Gould Profile.

Surveying

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