A picture of a blocked toilet has caused quite a bit of debate over in The Surveyor Hub. And to reassure you, there are NO no pictures of it here.
It was filthy. One can only imagine the smell. And the debate was whether it should have been posted or not. Some people took offence and said it shouldn’t have been posted, that it was mocking vulnerable people who live like that and couldn’t help it.
It triggered separate threads telling people to grow up and another thread on pictures of very messy homes. Some of it was quite funny, disbelief at what we have seen but also it’s very sad and here’s why.
The job of residential surveyors is not for the faint-hearted. Clearly, some people do have social and personal issues and as residential surveyors, when we walk into their home, we really do walk into their lives, warts, grubby toilets and all.
The issue of said toilet raises the following thoughts –
- Some poor mite is living there, what do we do about that? Can we do anything about that? Is it our job to do anything about that? What would happen if you got involved? What can the surveyor do? Who would you actually contact and who would care?
- A property like this is likely to be an unsafe environment and not just because of the hygiene. If someone is living like that, there are likely social and mental health issues. Is it safe for the surveyor to be at the property alone?
- Is it an illegal tenancy, are there squatters? Will the surveyor come to any harm?
- How exactly do you value property in that condition?
- Why was the toilet that badly blocked? What is the damage? What is the remedy? What advice do you give the client depending on the type of service and report agreed? Did the client give the surveyor any warning??
- How bad is the rest of the house……?
So many questions. Yet, the most important question for us was this:
Where is the surveyor getting advice and support on how to deal with and process what they have seen?
The surveyor can’t unsee/smell a sight like that and coupled with the points I mention above it is disturbing. It can become stressful. The variety of things we see and experience as residential surveyors and valuers is unique. We are keepers of secrets as we slip in and out of properties – the only evidence our reports and professional advice.
There has to be an outlet, a letting off of steam since many of us now work from home and we don’t have the office or water cooler moments so often talked about as being essential to wellbeing. Platforms like The Surveyor Hub allow surveyors to do just that. Because to walk into someone’s home you need to have a layer of social sensitivity to what you are exposed to, to have the wisdom to know what the right thing is to do and to do the right thing in the moment.
We can all too easily become desensitised. And yet it can be quite a shock the first time you encounter the way some people really live. It is why building up experience on the job is important, not just for the technical stuff. Understanding the situations you find yourself, the reasons why and what you can do about it can help those with less experience cope better when faced with such situations – and they will do during their career.
We need to process what we see and sharing and discussing is a way to do that.
Every flavour of surveyor is different and unique. What we at BlueBox are creating is a home for the ordinary residential surveyor and valuer, because we have seen some grubby sights too.
Join us online or at our upcoming in-person events – find out more here.