Nick Cousins Surveyor

Surveyor Nick Cousins sheds light on his day-to-day duties – the good and not-so good bits – and offers a few interesting thoughts on roofing’s current and future function. 


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

I would be hard pushed to say that there is a typical day. Each day has its own variations, from location, project size and complexity.


Tell us about some of the challenges you encounter on a daily basis.

On a daily basis we come across many different challenges, and each project will have its own hurdles and issues to overcome. These can include anything from height restrictions, exiting falls/back falls, large numbers of obstacles and inadequate drainage, through to debris and standing water. Not forgetting adverse weather conditions.


What excites you about your job?

I enjoy a challenge. The more complex and challenging the roof, the more I want to come up with a solution. And although it may be stressful at the time, it’s a good feeling when the project is complete and working as anticipated.


What skills and experience do you bring to the role?

Patience and understanding of how a roof is draining, along with the impacts of the proposed designs.


What makes a good surveyor?

A good surveyor needs to have a good eye for detail to ensure that all the relevant information is collected at the time of the survey to avoid any issues when the job goes to site.


Tell us about a project that was particularly gratifying

There is not a particular project, but as mentioned, it’s satisfying when a complicated project works is overcome and completed to our usual high standard. For example, making existing outlets redundant and reversing falls to overcome the existing falls.


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

I cover a large area, mainly in and around central London. But I do get surveys on the south coast, which is a pleasant change. I have visited many large projects in London such as Battersea Power Station, London Zoo, Lord’s cricket ground, and the London Underground, to name just a few.


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

I hold an NVQ in roofing, but the 20 years’ working experience I’ve accrued in roofing is the main advantage for me.


What constitutes a perfect day for you?

Dry and warm weather, no traffic and a straightforward roof. They are few and far between, however.


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

The legislation and required targets are changing on a regular basis. It would make things easier and more practical if there was a blanket approach to all roofing projects.


Describe your dream project. Where would it be based? What would it entail?

This would have to be something that I could get my teeth into. For example, a large project to make a roof run dry and turning into a roof-to-terrace/bar and garden. London is already leading the way on this. More and more roof areas are being turned into bar terrace/gardens etc. Once these areas are completed it’s hard to believe you are actually on a roof and not on the high street.


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

I would advise them that every day is different and each day has to be taken with a clean canvas. Some days will be more stressful than others, so if you like routine and travelling to the same location, it may not be right for you.


How do you visualise the future of surveying?

Technology is advancing every day, and there is more high-tech equipment available. This will always help in carrying out surveys, but nothing is going to beat the naked eye and seeing the project first hand.


Tell us about a favourite funny/light-hearted moment you enjoyed in the course of your work?

We get to meet lots of different characters whilst attending site. A couple that spring to mind are roofing contractors known as the Chuckle Brothers – two characters that are brilliant at their jobs and can turn their hand to all roofing aspects. But as the name suggests, their work methods are sometimes like a sketch from the Chuckle Brothers, ‘To me, to you’!


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

I would say that generally it is greatly received. We are often complemented on the work we carry out. This is underpinned by the service offering here at Gradient, we always like to make sure jobs go as smoothly as possible.


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

I would like to stay within the industry. I have a large customer base with people I can rely on and vice versa. Good relationships and understanding on both parties go a long way in making working together more pleasurable and less stressful for all concerned.


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

Gradient supplies a service for all customers from the initial survey. This can be to begin a new enquiry or to confirm drawings. It involves us attending site and taking control of the design and tapered aspect of the project from the outset, making clients aware of the potential impact and issues that may arise. We also attend site to assist setting out, help installing crickets or deflectors, and generally anything that will assist the contractors.