My journey from seasoned builder to residential surveyor in 18 months.

Original Article
March 20th, 2024


Image shows Sava surveying graduate Chris Nichol alongside title 'From builder to residential surveyor in 18 months'

For learners completing the Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation, we understand that qualifying is only the beginning of their surveying journey – which is why we love to keep in touch!

We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Sava graduate and now owner of Horizon Surveys Ltd, Chris Nichol. Chris joined the diploma programme in February 2022 and, with hard work and self-discipline, achieved his qualification in just 18 months. Read more about Chris’ decision to join the surveying industry below or download his case study here to read offline.

What was your background before joining the surveying industry?

My background was in building, having been a builder for more than 20 years running my own building contractors firm, landscaping firm and also doing a lot of property development.

What made you pursue a career in surveying?

Covid hit in 2020, my long-time business partner retired and this motivated me to make a change. After a few months off looking for new ideas and projects, I came across Sava and the Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation, and after a few phone calls back and forth, I decided to go for it! I am not one for hanging around, so decided a week or so before the course started, even opting for the Nottingham course as it started sooner than the Manchester course which is actually much closer to me. 

How did you find completing your training with Sava?

The course went well. It’s a lot of information to take in over a short space of time, but the tutors are good, and my assessor, Anne Hinds, was absolutely brilliant. She guided me and was always on hand to help with all of my queries.

I was lucky that just as I went into the assessment stage of the qualification, I found a surveying mentor locally. He was great and actually employed me part time to shadow him as an assistant. This experience was invaluable! Without it I think my career choices once qualified would have been very different.

I completed my surveying qualification to officially join the surveying industry in October 2023. I was part of the February 2022 intake in Nottingham, so it took me approximately 18 months to complete, which is quicker than the average time of 24 months. I worked part time doing smaller building jobs whilst undertaking the course, so that helped with the timescales; I think for those working full time it’s understandable it would take longer.

What have you been up to since achieving your surveying qualification?

Post qualification, I carried on working with my mentor for a few months to gain experience (office and inspection) while going through the process of applying for my Associate membership with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (AssocRICS).

Once my membership application went through, I knew my path would be to start my own practice, having been self-employed for so many years previously. In February 2024 the decision was made, Horizon Surveys Ltd was registered and the process of RICS Regulation started. There were a lot of hurdles, from insurance to software and CRMs, but a month or so later it’s all coming together. I have an office, work coming in, and am about to take on someone to manage my admin so I can concentrate on what I enjoy, the inspections themselves.

Who knows what the future holds from here!

Would you recommend the Sava diploma to others looking to enter the surveying profession?

I would recommend the Sava diploma as it’s an alternative, vocational route into a profession that’s historically unavailable to many people from a non-educational/traditional background.

Looking to join a new and exciting industry? Hit the link to find out more about gaining an industry-recognised qualification and becoming a residential surveyor through the Sava Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation.