APC competencies: construction technology and environmental services

A fundamental matter

27 April 2016

Ewan Craig, a speaker at the RICS annual It’s Your APC conference, outlines how imperative the construction technology and environmental services competency can be

Example questions for this competency were covered in a previous Building surveying journal article (see July/August 2013, p.26), so this piece will look afresh at just how fundamental the competency is through a review of some of the previous items on other APC competencies between 2013 and 2015.

The levels

The requirements of each level of the competency are as follows.

At level 1

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the principles of design and construction relating to your chosen field of practice.

At level 2

Apply your knowledge to the design and construction processes.

At level 3

Advise on the selection and application of particular processes in your area of experience. This should include liaison with specialists and consultants to develop project-specific design and construction solutions.

The assessors will ask questions based on your submission documents. Do listen carefully to what they ask and answer them, rather than misinterpret the questions. Try to listen for command words that will guide you to the appropriate level: for example, know, understand (level 1); do, achieve, prepare, consider, apply (level 2); or advise, recommend, direct (level 3).

Design and specification

This article (March/April 2014, p.26) included questions on refurbishment and an industrial workshop. Your experience can also bring in the construction technology and environmental services competency, by applying your knowledge of the building’s construction to derive design or specification options and then make recommendations based on these. The connection between design and the construction technology and environmental services competency is explicit, with 'design' referred to in the definition of the competency’s levels.

Building pathology

The piece (October/November 2013, p.26) included questions on wall-tie failure and the effect of vermin on the building’s fabric. The construction technology and environmental services competency would be intrinsic to this. Knowledge of the building’s construction, how to apply this knowledge in considering possible causes, developing remedial options and noting any effect these would have on the construction are prerequisites to providing a complete solution.


This (May/June 2014, p.26) included questions on inspecting drainage and inspecting a flat roof, both of which would draw on your competency in construction technology and environmental services. The inspection, and your recommendation on the approach to take, would require a good knowledge of the building elements and how they should be constructed; to consider what information or data should be ascertained, what to inspect, how to inspect it and what further action to take such as where this uncovers anomalies.

Legal and regulatory compliance

In this piece (December 2013/January 2014, p.26) there was a question on ways of remedying a state of disrepair. You would need to apply your construction technology and environmental services competency to this, to appreciate the current situation, what constitutes the disrepair which repairs might be an option, and then to establish which would be the most economic and appropriate remedy.

Contract administration

This item (July/August 2014, p.26) featured a question on a variation order to repair a wall following discussions on site, and a further question on how changes to a building may affect the completion date. Your competency in construction technology and environmental services would help you understand and discuss the options on site, to repair the wall and specify the variation order to achieve the repair to meet your client’s brief. This competency would also be necessary to understand the sequence of construction, and what effect any changes to the construction would have on a building and the programme of works.

As this all suggests, the construction technology and environmental services competency can be seen as imperative, a foundation for many other areas of a building surveyor’s practice. To prepare for the APC, you should consider how your experience covers your competencies and be ready to address questions arising. You may also find it helpful to read the previous issues of Building Surveying Journal, as well as using isurv and other APC sources.


Given the time constraints of the APC, your answer should be a brief but complete response to the question. The answers given above are not exhaustive, however, so care should be taken to demonstrate your own skills, abilities and knowledge to the assessors.

Ewan Craig is an APC assessor and Associate with Ridge and Partners LLP

Further information

  • For details on the APC pathway guide for building surveyors, please visit isurv or the RICS website
  • This feature is taken from the Building surveying journal (March/April 2016)