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Day in the life of a surveyor, Matthew Cox, Surveying Manager

Matthew Cox gives an entertaining insight into his role as Gradient’s Surveying Manager and the career path that led him there. He also provides a thought-provoking assessment of the current and future challenges faced by roofers and the sector as a whole.


As a surveyor, is there such a thing as a ‘typical day’? If so, what does it consist of?

There is never a typical day as a surveyor. There are so many variables / challenges that arise. You prepare the best you can but undoubtedly there will be something that arises that is out of your control, inclement weather being one of the biggest factors. Site visits for surveys are where we spend the majority of our time, meeting on site to discuss project details with roofing contractors and clients alike.


What excites you about your job?

Helping people understand what can and cannot be done within the scope of any project, and the added value we can offer. There is a great sense of achievement once a project you have surveyed goes to site and is installed.


What made you want to become a surveyor?

Like many people in the industry, I left college not knowing what I wanted to do. I started labouring for a local roofing firm during the school summer holiday shutdown (any opportunity to earn some extra money when I was young). Being outside and working alongside a great group of people who wanted you to progress and do well was a great motivator to making a career in roofing.

I knew that if I could be of value to the company by installing roofing systems it would give me an opportunity to earn more money, which was everything to me in those days. I enjoyed it and found I was not too bad at it. In time, I progressed to running projects. I then started estimating, which was office-based. I was always looking for the next thing, then the role of surveyor with Gradient was advertised in the RCI magazine, and that was where my journey with Gradient / Recticel started.


What skills and experience do you bring to the role?

My knowledge of roofing and problem-solving on site through previous experiences; my willingness to help and educate within the industry.


Are you able to divulge any surveyor tricks of the trade?

To be diligent in your approach and to remember that often, all is not as it seems. You need a keen eye for detail.


Tell us about a project that was particularly gratifying.

The London Business School in Marylebone Road, London. It involved a variety of roofs and complexities to overcome.


Where is your work generally based? Have you worked in any strange/unusual places?

I work all over the south east. I’ve had the chance to work in fascinating places such as Harrods, Selfridges, and the Houses of Parliament. Places like this are unbelievable behind the scenes, so to speak.


What qualifications do you need to hold to become a surveyor?

Practical experience is above and beyond the most important qualification, as customers and clients need to know that you understand the roofing industry and its disciplines. In short, customers and clients are looking to us to be experts in roofing. This can only come from experience, learning and improvement.


If you could change one aspect of your job – be it a piece of legislation or innovation – what would it be?

Working at height can be improved with better methods implicated, and a more consistent and realistic approach taken.


What would you say to someone contemplating a career in surveying?

It’s not all sunny days. Be prepared for early starts as contractors are always the first ones up and on site.


How do you visualise the future of surveying?

You will always need a professional to look at a roof first hand and be available for face-to-face discussions. Technology will keep evolving, but people with experience will still be crucial to the industry. I believe with continued improvement in each of these areas, the future is very bright for what is an ever-changing sector.


How do you think other sectors of the industry perceive surveyors and the work they do?

Once people know what we can provide / offer and the added value we can bring to their projects, it is very much appreciated. Gradient is looked at as a leader in the industry and I am proud to be a part of it.


What ambitions do you have for your career and the future of construction?

To keep learning and improving and to further my career within the industry that I love.  As I stated, I started out carrying rolls of felt up a ladder (which is not the way to do things now). I want to pass my knowledge and what I have learnt onto others. Even though there is a shortage of skilled labour, there are some exceptional young people out there with a willingness to learn. There are so many great training providers and opportunities out there to ensure the industry continues to evolve.


Could you tell us about Gradient’s customer service provision and the part surveying plays in it?

The surveying team most of the time are first call on a project. So, it’s imperative that we can advise the customer accordingly at the start of the process and make it a positive one.