Communication in construction is imperative, and throughout my time at Sheffield Hallam this has been at the core of everything that we have studied. From day one there was a distinct focus on ensuring the entire cohort could interact effectively with a wide range of individuals through the modules selected as well as the teaching and delivery methods of the lecturers.
Having spent 3 years with my classmates I have seen most of them develop both their professional and interpersonal skills immensely. As we depart education and embark on our full-time careers in construction, there is no doubt that our tutors have greatly enhanced our knowledge and abilities, ensuring that they produce the most well-rounded building surveyors possible.
Personally, this emphasis on communication, and in particular early communication, has benefited me greatly. Working as a building control surveyor, early communication with designers and contractors ensures full compliance is achieved with the fewest number of issues possible.
This skill showed its worth when I was tasked with project managing a new large industrial development. After receiving the drawings and specification I identified that the project would not comply with any prescriptive guidance. As this was noted early – and the client was able to instruct a fire engineer to provide a solution before works had commenced – there were no major implications to the project. Had we not established early dialogue and communication, this could have led to several issues down the line.
This site is one of many that I am project managing at present, several of which are vastly different in nature. The role of a building control surveyor means that we need a very diverse knowledge base, ensuring we can cover a wide range of areas. Throughout my APC journey I have been assigned progressively more challenging projects as I have developed my abilities. Tackling these more complex projects has without a doubt accelerated the learning process, ensuring that all competencies are met along the way.
The need to diversify is something that has been forced upon us all. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, businesses are being pushed into more creative ways of thinking and working. Here at Assent we took several steps to ensure the business would survive during these troubled times, including placing a proportion of the workforce on furlough while operating a smaller team of site inspectors.
Personally, furlough allowed me spend more than the mandatory paternal leave allowance at home following the birth of my son Rudie. It also allowed me to get ahead with my APC as well as making the finishing touches to my dissertation. I chose to cover fire safety in high-rise residential buildings for my dissertation topic, investigating in particular the changes that were proposed by Dame Judith Hackitt in her review of building regulations and fire safety.
As part of my research I conducted face-to-face interviews with professionals from various disciplines, getting their views on the report, the changes proposed, the Grenfell Tower fire itself and many other issues with fire safety in the UK. Throughout these interviews it became evident that many changes are needed; more skilled, competent professionals need to be upskilled, and most importantly the framework as to how high-risk buildings are assessed needs to be improved.
As I come to the end of my APC journey, the time that I am dedicating to my training and development is increasing day-by-day. Throughout my time at Assent there has always been an importance placed on suitable CPD being delivered to the workforce. Since the beginning of lockdown, we have had weekly CPD via Microsoft Teams. This weekly event has given me a reset point and a checkpoint to evaluate where I am at, and where I need to be.