Meet Charles, an everyday hero working as a Building Control Surveyor at Herefordshire Council.
Below Charles has shared his story to show what a career as a Surveyor is like.
What's your role in a nutshell?
It’s my job to check – and inspect - that building work complies with the latest regulations set by Government. These cover everything from insulation and fire safety to drainage and internet access. I’m out and about a lot, working with all sorts of builders; that might be a huge developer building a new shopping centre to an individual building a small domestic extension.
I’m proud to be working in a role that I know helps our communities to be safe – at home, work and in our leisure time too.
Was this a planned career or one you fell into?
Planned. I did a Building Construction course straight from school and started working in a hospital doing building maintenance. When I moved to the council I undertook a ONC, then a further HND on day release for three years while working. Most of my 50 year career has been spent working in councils, mostly locally. Initially I worked in planning but quickly realised I wanted to be a building inspector so moved into Building Control. I’m 67 now and still really enjoy what I do – I wouldn’t be here otherwise.
Are you a doer, manager or leader?
Very much a doer. I love the technical side, rather than the management side. I did a Diploma in Management Studies but just prefer the practical side, I’m really not a natural leader – I leave that to other managers - although I do enjoy working with such a variety of people.
What do you love best & love least about your job?
Well for starters no two days are the same, I get to meet all sorts of people, and when I go into the office there will be a list of calls and visits for the day, all very different.
I love that I can see the results of my work too – I oversaw the redevelopment of the cattle market into a retail park in Hereford, a £29 million development – it caused a few sleepless nights at the time, but I know I played a role in making it happen.
The hardest part of the job is when I have to ask for a building to be taken down if it’s wrong and doesn’t comply, for example if the walls haven’t been built straight or the joists are too small. It’s just not safe to let it stay - that can be quite a difficult conversation with someone.
Do you need: Qualifications? University or apprenticeship or special skills?
In the current climate it’s harder to progress using the ONC and HND routes and learning ‘on the job’ because of the cost of training and absence to attend college. The more common route into building control is a degree in Building Construction, then additional external or internal training for the building control specialism. You then have to become a member of RICS – the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, or another suitable professional body such as CIOB, the Chartered Institute of Building.
Routine or variety?
There’s quite a lot of routine. Writing up visits and records on computers and producing statistics. When Government announce how many homes have been built those numbers have come from building control teams in councils. We have to forward statistics on how many homes have started and finished each month.
The variety comes in that every visit is different and the changing times bring in new demands. For example with homeworking becoming the way many people are working today people are looking for extra space, converting the garage, a spare room or building an extension or garden office – they don’t just want their workplace to be the kitchen table. That’s creating more work for us at the moment.
There’s also a lot of variety in my out of hours role for dangerous structures. One call at 11.30pm involved a car that has been driven into a house; I had to check it before the fire service put in a temporary support. Another was a four storey building that had burnt down and was dangerous so I organised a ‘big nibbler’ - a crane with a grabber than dismantled it piece by piece in Hereford town centre – much to the excitement of a big crowd of spectators!
Pay check or calling?
Definitely for the job satisfaction. It’s certainly possible to earn more as an inspector working in the private sector but I’ve chosen to stay with in the council sector, it’s rewarding in so many other ways; for example I’ve a great team of people to work with, really varied work and I’ve been supported to reduce my hours ahead of my retirement.
Is there development support available or is it DIY?
Being part of the RICS means I need to do 20 hours of CPD myself each year – Continuing Professional Development – and I am fully supported by the council to achieve this.
Staying put or moving on?
Well at 67 and in good health I’ll continue for a few more years, I still really enjoy my work, it's been great doing less hours in recent years so that retirement isn’t going to be quite such a shock.
Can you share a life lesson or specific career advice?
Find a job you think you will enjoy doing. And have the guts to do something else if it’s not for you. Don’t just stick to what your degree is in. Try different things out.
Charles, is an #EverydayHero, working to change and make better the lives of others and you can be an #EverydayHero too. Click here to find roles currently available within building control and surveying.
Click here to read about more of our #EverydayHeroes