Property insider view: Newly-appointed head of architectural services at DM Hall Calum Allmond

Job title Head of architectural services for DM Hall. It is a niche area, we prepare deed plans for submission to the Registers of Scotland, a critical part of property transactions that can often have complex issues that have to be overcome.

Calum Allmond, newly-appointed head of architectural services at DM Hall

We also assist with boundary disputes and produce alterations reports, providing guidance where a property owner has carried out changes to their homes without proper consent from the council. We provide a report, with drawings and applications, to the council for the client.

How did you get started? I havealways been interested in architecture. My holiday snaps were always full of roof types, ornate columns and, after a trip to Germany, the inside of an unfinished airport.

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In my final year at school, we were given the opportunity to study at Inverness College and I opted to do architectural technology. It has the creativity of architecture, while grounding itself in the science of building – a bridge between art and technology.

Picture: (c) 2016 Viktoriya/Shutterstock

Following that, I applied to Edinburgh Napier to study architectural technology. I started with DM Hall part-time during my final months of studying.

What is your favourite type of project? They are actually the ones that don’t grab the headlines. The deed plan jobs that sit in the background, often overlooked as a formality by the public, but which require problem-solving skills to weave together an explanation of what someone owns.

We have been involved with several large projects with documents dating back to the late 1800s that require careful analysis to understand, not least because of the ornate cursive handwriting favoured by the legal profession of that era.

Reading nearly 200 years’ worth of property sales and acquisitions is no small task and takes an experienced, diligent team.

What is your typical day like? Perhaps it’s a cliché to say no two days are alike, but it really is true. I can be at my desk all day one day preparing reports, and on a boat to the Isle of Arran the next.

With a small team, we cover mainland Scotland and its islands. Reports are often required in a few days which can present a challenge when you’re in Dunfermline, and your property is in Inverness.

What has been the worst time in the business? Without a shadow of a doubt, Covid and its implications. Everyone but me in my team was furloughed. I had just moved into a new property and there was no space to set up an efficient working space. Juggling the difficulties of not only working alone, but working from home and having no settled desk space was a nightmare.

Where do you live? My fiancée and I live in a two-bed flat in Bonnyrigg, just south of Edinburgh. The town is growing and busy, and still only 30 minutes from Edinburgh city centre or an hour on the bus. We both really like it there, and I don’t expect we will be moving anytime soon.

Does your job affect your social life? I am very work-centric and spend most of my time working, or thinking about it. I have not been in my role for long and I haven’t had the opportunity to meet many of our clients face to face, but I am looking forward to it. That said, I do like a holiday when I turn my phone off and leave the work to my capable team.

What advice would you give someone wanting to work in the industry? Our department is niche and the services it provides are specialised, but a key part to the role is an ability to use CAD programs. I would suggest that anyone looking to get into any area of work involving architecture invests their time in learning how to use CAD software. Our department is always looking at graduates from architectural technology courses to submit their CVs.

How is business? Our business in 2021 has been remarkably successful. We have taken the opportunity to do a full review of our fees and services to ensure we are competitive. The market fluctuates but our range of services means we are not always beholden to market conditions, especially with our property boundary work.

What innovations in the industry do you see making the biggest difference in the future? The building regulations are constantly evolving with a large focus on fire safety.

From February next year, it will be required for all homes in Scotland to have mains powered, interlinked fire and smoke alarms installed, something that was previously only mandatory in rented accommodation.

Within the realm of property registration, the Registers of Scotland are exploring the use of AI and blockchain which could completely overhaul the way that property registration works in Scotland.

What could the industry or the government be doing differently? I think there needs to be more communication by government and local authority regarding the importance of building warrants. A heavy emphasis is put on planning permission, but the two are different, and even within the industry the two are sometimes confused.

The regulations state that a homeowner is responsible for compliance with the building regulations, while many expect this to be the role of a contractor or local authority.

Many people don’t realise, for instance, that replacing a window with French doors constitutes an offence under the building regulations if you didn’t get consent.

Life file

Born and raised Born in Inverness and raised in Nairn –famed for its clean air and blue flag beaches.

Education Studied at Nairn Academy. Graduated from Edinburgh Napier with a first in architectural technology and a CIAT (Chartered Institute of Architectural Technology) award.

Family My father, Ralph, was in the RAF for 20 years flying Nimrods before becoming a primary school teacher. My mother, Dawn, is an occupational therapist. My fiancée, Shereen, is a qualified early years practitioner.

First job While I was in secondary school I worked as a beadle for one of the many churches in Nairn, so I have attended more funerals than I can count.

First home The first place that my fiancée and I stayed was in Gorgie in Edinburgh. I was still at uni, and it served us well, but we quickly outgrew it.

Plans for retirement I’m going to buy a campervan and disappear.

Personal motto I think my motto is “consistency”, in ensuring that everything we do is to the same high standard.