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Learning and Working in Lockdown as a Building Surveyor - Image

Learning and Working in Lockdown as a Building Surveyor

In 2020, Murray Birrell recruited two amazing assistant Building Surveyors. Rory Aldridge and Rebecca Malik joined us at time when, despite pandemic lockdowns earlier in the year, we were receiving new instructions from established clients and gaining some new ones as well.

Working under travel and social distancing restrictions gave us all new challenges to maintain delivering the level of service our clients expect. Video conferencing skills had to be developed almost overnight, though they quickly became almost second nature – residential connections permitting. More scheduled efforts to keep in touch with each other had to replace the water cooler moments, and collective calls with clients might have meant a little bit of tidying up the domestic background. The ways our newest colleagues have adapted to the situation has been exemplary. 


Rory Aldridge

Rory completed a BA in Property Management & Development and an MSc in Conservation of Historic Buildings. Prior to joining us in October 2020, he was selflessly working at a Covid drive-through testing site

“Starting my Building Surveying career during a pandemic has certainly been a challenge, especially with two lockdowns to contend with. However, I am still full of enthusiasm and eager to learn every day, I have just completed virtual training on the CDM* software we use. Despite having to adjust to working from home just a couple of months into my new job, I still feel fully integrated into the team. Video calls and screen sharing has certainly helped maintain face to face contact with my colleagues, even though it is just virtually.

I am lucky enough to be involved in some really interesting projects, including characterful Victorian terrace houses in Lewisham, Georgian Town houses in Belgravia and a large scale roofing project in Waterloo.

After four years at university, being able to apply this knowledge into practice in the real world is really satisfying. I am looking forward to building on this knowledge from the wealth of experience in the team around me.”

* Collaborative decision-making software is a software application or module that helps to coordinate and disseminate data and reach consensus among work groups.

Rebecca Malik

Rebecca’s interest in the built environment began when she moved to London eight years ago to study a BA in History. Fascinated by the City's historical architecture and constantly evolving skyline, Rebecca started working in leasehold property after completing her undergraduate degree. That was when she decided to pursue a career as a Building Surveyor and began studying for a Building Surveying MSc, and graduated in July 2020 from University College of Estate Management with a distinction.

“For the first two months, we were mostly in the office full time and doing inspections as normal. So that time was very helpful with regards to getting settled in and setting the foundations.

We have been mainly home based since the start of the current national lockdown. Most weeks I have still been going out to an inspection, though in many cases I have carried out meetings online. I have also been popping into our Covid-secure Petts Wood office once a week to have meetings with my line manager.


 Public transport isn't enjoyable during the pandemic, and given it is almost a year since the first lockdown I feel rather adapted to home working. I have been able to use video calls to keep in touch with colleagues and clients and screen sharing - with our better developed skills - is also an excellent tool. I feel this time round has been much easier to adapt than the first lockdown a year ago. 

I've also been doing online learning such as a 3-day AutoCAD** course, CDM software training and CPD.

Of course, when you're at home you miss out on incidental conversations, but it has been working well.”

**AutoCAD is computer-aided design software that enables drawing and editing digital 2D and 3D designs more quickly and easily than you could by hand. The files can also be easily saved and stored in the cloud, so they be accessed anywhere at any time.

Stuart Birrell FRICS, Director, adds:

"In early 2020 we were looking to take on a least one graduate to provide ongoing assistance in a way that provided more ‘youthful energy’ to the firm, and also bearing in mind our commitment to train new members of the profession. It is important that companies like ours take this responsibility seriously in order to take the profession forward.

We put that plan on hold during the original lockdown. However, after we returned to relatively normal working in July, and due to the volume of new instructions we had received, we decided to go ahead with recruiting for two positions.

We have been extremely fortunate as Rory and Rebecca are intelligent, committed and dynamic people, and they have made a swift impact on the company.

Whilst we were in the office, agreeing training regimes and mentoring was relatively easy.  We were a little concerned as to how all of us would cope once restricted working practices were reintroduced, but we needn’t have worried. As a company we have got more used to communicating online at length and in greater depth, and even though it is definitely less effective than working in the office, both Rory and Rebeca have risen to the challenge. 

They are obviously hungry for knowledge and keen to learn from their more experienced colleagues within the company. They have really gone the extra mile to help us make this work. Once we are back in the office things will be easier, and we are absolutely certain employing these two valued members of the firm was the right decision."

If you could picture yourself working and developing your career at Murray Birrell Chartered Surveyors, please check our current vacancies at

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