Surveys in Scotland

Our man in Scotland is John Durie, first-class honours student of Building Surveying with a genuine passion for, and understanding of, old buildings and their care and maintenance. Read a potted history of John and his work below...

"I fancied being an artist when I was at school, always drawing and painting, but my dad, retiring as a senior officer in the Fire Service, advised me to join the Police or Fire Service for the pension, and provided the sage advice that ‘no-one likes their job’.

I spent 16 (not quite miserable) years in the Police in Glasgow, plotting ways to escape, and finally managed to do so in 2000 when I attended Glasgow Caledonian University to study Building Surveying, with the sole intention of working in building conservation. I was the only student to study Conservation, and based my dissertation on “The Sustainable Use of Historic Buildings”. I surprised myself by getting a first-class honours degree. I moved from one Glasgow city-centre firm to another, quickly losing interest in surveying flat roofed shopping centres, then joined the National Trust for Scotland as an Assistant Regional Surveyor. I was quickly frustrated by the limitations of time and lack of budget available to do justice to properties.

Money has never been an incentive for me - the ability to enjoy work, provide best advice and to contribute to practical conservation is my motivator. Old buildings need to be lived in but should not be expected to perform as a modern house; I want the opportunity to inform owners of ‘old’ properties that their care is simple and straightforward but fundamentally different from that of a modern building.

I have always been interested in old things (don't tell my wife!): cars, houses, furniture, history, people...they have a story to tell, provenance and patina. Probably the most compelling reason I have for loving old houses is the fact that they can never be replicated. No-one can afford to build structures the way they were built 100 years ago, neither in terms of the materials used nor the manpower - that’s why it is so important, when repairing or maintaining them, to get it right.

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