Build our future

Published : Mon 8th May Author : Nick Dutton, Lead Building Surveyor

Think you know what it means to work in building surveying at the National Trust? Think again. As the largest building conservation organisation in Europe, the Trust sets out to protect the nation’s heritage – and building surveying plays a vital role in that. Nick Dutton, brand new Lead Building Surveyor for the London South East region, shares his immense enthusiasm for the profession and reveals why the National Trust offers a unique opportunity to thrive, and further a career in building surveying.

One of the major strategic aims of the National Trust is to look after the places we love – and as building surveyors, individuals like Nick Dutton, are doing just that – demonstrating how vital the profession is to the cause of the entire organisation. The building surveying team deal with all issues concerning buildings, from compliance, day to day and cyclical repairs, all the way up to large building projects. This means that a career in building surveying at the National Trust offers incredible breadth and variety.

London South East is one of six regions in the National Trust, but contains around 25 percent of properties with 192 Grade 1 and Grade 2 star listed buildings, circa 890 let estate cottages, 32 registered parks and gardens, 178 ancient monuments and almost 3,000 hectares of land. It’s an incredibly important region and the largest community of building surveyors within the National Trust.

“The collection of buildings is both unique and diverse requiring special skills, care and attention – and most of all a love for buildings,” says Nick. “There are not many organisations or roles able to offer this level of variety – from the very small, to the very grand and everything in between. There’s no doubt that working in building surveying at the National Trust represents a truly unique opportunity.”

Making a difference

Since he was very young, Nick has been aware of the National Trust and he’s always had a desire to work for the organisation given the range of properties and their conservation ethos. “It’s a unique charity, preserving a great deal of the country’s heritage for the future. Since becoming a surveyor it was obvious to me that I would one day come to the National Trust. Having worked in a number of building surveying roles both within consultancy and client side, it was the right time for a change. I’d reached the point in my career where I was ready to pursue my dreams, a career that really fulfilled me.”

Collaboration in conservation

Nick’s just two months in to his role at the National Trust, but it lives up to everything he hoped it would be. In fact, it’s the ability to work with a group of people who share the same ethos and values as him, with a similar outlook on historic buildings that has really brought the role to life for him.

Nick’s role as Lead Building Surveyor is a new one for the National Trust that came about following an investment into the building surveying function within the organisation. As such, Nick and the other regional leads are working closely together to ensure the building surveying community is acting as one. They work at raising standards across the board, promoting collaborative working within the building surveying community, championing the conservation work undertaken by the Trust and role of building surveying, and acting as mentors and technical leads for their regions.

“I work in close collaboration with the other regional Lead Building Surveyors to ensure we’re working in a consistent fashion. We share ideas, knowledge and techniques across the regions, so that best practice is shared and achieved across the country. It’s a very collegiate vibe, which I’ve not experienced in this way before.”

For Nick, the best part of his role is promoting the skills of the building surveyors and championing the work of the National Trust to an internal and external audience. He’s reaching out to organisations and individuals who share the organisation’s aspirations, as well as those that don’t. Which can be challenging and exhilarating all at once. Whether it’s creating new collaborations, or joining forces with amenity societies and conservation charities there’s always a new challenge ahead. Being able to promote not just the vital work the National Trust does for the nation, but the building surveying profession as a whole, makes his job incredibly inspiring.

If you’d like to make a difference, and give back to conservation, join us and help us deliver our vision. Head over to our Building Surveying page to find out more and to apply.