When the alarm goes off at 6.00am, Chartered Building Surveyor Andrew Ramsey’s biggest challenge is to get out without waking wife Jessica or nine-month-old daughter Robyn. It’s a home challenge to start a day of work challenges. A healthy breakfast is consumed before Andrew makes the 35-minute commute from home in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains to the Malcolm Hollis office in Pembroke Street in Dublin city centre. This avid Leinster Rugby fan will normally be at his desk by 7.45am and allows himself time to work through his emails.
After that, it’s on to the work plan for the day, concentrating on identifying the projects that need to be moved along with urgency. Andrew finds that getting this work done before the phones start to ring allows him to get ahead of work and, crucially, to be able to deal with any unexpected problems that arise.
Most days involve meetings on site or with other professionals. On the day we spoke, Andrew had interviewed architects that morning on the site of a project that he expects to develop shortly. After the meeting, the architectural firm invited him to tour the Google office in Dublin, which Andrew describes as “the cutting edge of office design and where we see office refurbishments in the future, with a huge focus on freedom of thought and employee development. I feel it is also closely linked to the concept of sustainability that Claire Solon has written about in this edition of the Journal”.
Andrew describes Pembroke Street as ‘Surveyor Central’ and his walk for a sandwich often involves bumping into other Chartered Surveyors. Given that the majority of Malcolm Hollis’ work is on instruction from other professionals – surveyors, solicitors, accountants, large funds and private property companies – the lunchtime walk sometimes doubles as a business development initiative. “It’s rare that I wouldn’t bump into someone we do business with at lunchtime.”
Afternoons often involve a team meeting. Andrew was Malcolm Hollis’ first employee in Dublin when he started just over three-and-a-half years ago. He now has a team including two Chartered Building Surveyors/Chartered Project Managers and graduate support.
That’s a decent level of business growth in that time and it is driven mainly on two fronts: the due diligence required on buildings that are being considered for purchase; and, the firm’s reputation as leaders in the field of dilapidations.
Malcolm Hollis also has an office in Belfast with four staff, and the company has 140 staff in total across 14 offices in Ireland and the UK. Recent refurbishment projects in Dublin have included the Elm Park frontage scheme for the nine townhouses near the Merrion Gates in Dublin.
Farrell Grant Sparks gave the instruction and Malcolm Hollis managed the project. Currently among its projects are two sheltered accommodation houses for Dublin Simon Community.
Work will usually run to about 7.00pm, by which time the roads are sufficiently clear to allow Andrew an easy return commute. By the time he has caught up with Jessica and Robyn, it’s nearly time to do it all over again. He says of his job: “The best thing about building surveying is the variety: no day is ever the same, no instruction is ever the same. Around every corner there is a new challenge to keep you on your toes and continue your professional development”.
Andrew is currently Vice Chair of the Society’s Chartered Building Surveyors Professional Group and will become Chairman next year.