What is a building control officer?
Building control officers and surveyors make sure that regulations are followed when buildings are being constructed. The building regulations cover areas such as fire safety, public health, energy conservation and accessibility. If you want to use your knowledge of safe construction to help keep building standards high, this job could be ideal for you.
You’ll need to have good problem-solving skills. You’ll also use your excellent communication skills to explain technical terms and regulations clearly to members of the public and other professionals like architects and engineers.
Most new building control surveyors have an HNC, HND or a degree, or an equivalent qualification in building studies or a related subject. You may also move into this job from another role in building and construction.
What does a typical day look like?
As a building control person, you’ll work on the planning and construction phases of building projects to make sure they meet building standards. Projects can range from a small housing extension to a large city centre redevelopment.
In this job you’re likely to:
- Work closely with architects, designers, builders and engineers.
- Make sure building designs and plans meet regulations.
- Suggest ways to make the building project more cost effective like reducing energy and water use.
- Carry out regular site inspections at each stage of the building process.
- Write inspection reports and keep records.
- Issue completion certificates.
You may also be responsible for surveying buildings that have been made unsafe by events like fire or bad weather. You’ll give advice on work that is needed to make the buildings safe, or approve their demolition if they are beyond repair. Other responsibilities include authorising entertainment licences and checking safety at public venues like sports grounds, open-air events, cinemas and theatres.
On all projects you will take into account how your decisions will affect the contractors' time and costs. If you decide that a building project doesn’t meet regulations, you may start legal proceedings to change or stop building work.
Working hours and conditions
You would normally work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. You may sometimes be on a 24-hour call-out rota, for example if the emergency services needed you to inspect an unstable building.
You will usually split your time between the office and site visits. You can be on site in all weather conditions and some jobs may involve working at heights on scaffolding or ladders.
Starting salaries can range from £21,000 to £26,000 a year.
Experienced inspectors can earn between £27,000 and £38,000.
Senior inspectors can earn up to £50,000 a year.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
Local authority building control trainees
Most new building control surveyors have an HNC, HND or a degree or an equivalent qualification. Employers may also prefer you to be an accredited member of a professional body such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Chartered Institute of Building Engineers (CABE) or The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).
Relevant degree subjects include:
- building studies
- civil engineering
- structural engineering
- building control
- building surveying
Experience of working in building and construction may help you get into this career. It can also help you to start building up contacts in the industry and give you a taste of what it’s like to work in this sector. Having a group of contacts may help you to find paid work later on. You can get experience trough a placement year whilst at university or college, through part-time or holiday jobs or by work shadowing.
You may also move into building control from another area of building or construction, like quantity surveying.
Trainee of the year 2015 Shaun Farman - Read his story
Training and development
Once you start working you would normally receive on-the-job training. You may be encouraged to work towards a degree or a postgraduate award if you don’t already hold one.
Becoming a member of a professional body such as RICS, CABE or the CIOB may improve your career prospects. It can also reinforce your professional status and show that you keep your knowledge and skills current. Other membership benefits include continuing professional development, training and events.
Your route to membership may depend on your qualifications, you level of professional experience and your current job role. Visit the RICS, CABE and CIOB websites for more information.
Skills, interests and qualities
To be a building control officer or surveyor you will need:
- A thorough knowledge of building regulations
- A good understanding of the technical side of construction
- Good problem-solving skills
- A tactful approach
- Strong IT skills
- Excellent communication and negotiating skills
- The ability to explain technical terms clearly to members of the public
- Time management skills and organisational ability
- Good teamwork skills, with the ability to work alone when required
Building control job opportunities
This article first appeared on the National Careers Service website.