What makes a good building control team?

March 1, 2023


What makes a good building control team?

“Fundamentally, our job function is about health and safety – that is the purpose of the building regulations. Safe, accessible, energy-efficient buildings are our goal.” Martin Reavey, Building Control Manager at Harwood

For any team to function well, it needs open communication, defined responsibilities, trust between its members and a shared goal. How well that team works together can be critical to the success of the organisation, and building control teams are no exception.

A good building control team embraces creativity and innovation – it’s crucial not to underestimate the value that an experienced and highly competent building control team can bring to a project.

To find out more about what makes a good building control team, we spoke to Harwood Building Control Manager Martin Reavey

What does a building control team do?

Building control means ensuring that construction is completed according to the Building Regulations, which are the minimum standards for design, construction and alterations. Most building projects, including alterations, require building control approval, even smaller ones that don’t need planning permission.

Martin explains: “The work starts before the first builder picks up a tool and continues throughout construction. At Harwood, we encourage clients to engage with building control as early in the design process as possible, and with as much detailed information as they have. In this way, the client is able to benefit from the contribution building control adds in terms of creativity and innovation.

“I’d like to think that contractors and clients don’t just view us as an ‘enforcer’, we want to be enablers of safe and compliant buildings,” Martin continues,” our team should feel they’ve contributed to the success of a building project in terms of both safety and innovation.”

What does it take to become a Building Control Manager?

“It’s possible to work your way up by demonstrating construction-site experience and knowledge of regulations, in addition to mentoring staff and demonstrating business leadership,” explains Martin, “but most new professionals have a degree, HND, or similar qualification which can be gained by starting work as an apprentice and completing formal study while continuing that work.

“Most in this field will have, or will be working towards, chartered status with one of several industry bodies such as RICS, CABE or CIOB.”

What makes the Harwood team so successful?

  • Communication

“Good communication is vital to what we do,” comments Martin. “There are many stakeholders, from clients to architects to contractors, so keeping everyone informed and onboard is crucial. Creative problem solving really matters too, the ability to understand the needs of the client and to be adaptive.”

It goes without saying that at Harwood we have to stay on top of new legislation, and ensure that information is passed on to our clients through our skill and judgement. “We’re good at communicating with clients, it’s key and it’s a team effort everyone is engaged with,” says Martin,” whether that’s David [Woodward, Harwood CEO] meeting up with a client, or Jayden our trainee Building Control surveyor doing a plan check and speaking with them.”

  • Collaboration

Martin also identifies a collaborative mindset as a key characteristic. “I’ll take on a junior surveyor who doesn’t have experience yet, if they seem bright and inquisitive, they need to be the sort of person who’s always interested in solving a problem, whether that be internal or external. It’s about attitude as much as anything else – we all understand that we’re working towards a common goal.”

Through clear communication and collaboration with a client, if a defect is noted on a plan or on site, it can be quickly and clearly dealt with. “It’s so important to get involved early – we’re not designing a project, but we can assist with the design to get it to a compliant level,” explains Martin.

  • Competency

As a company, we always have numerous projects on the books. Harwood uses formal competency matrices to determine who can take on what responsibility on what task.

Martin explains: “Younger members of the team are given smaller jobs to lead themselves, and also assist experienced colleagues on tougher challenges, to familiarise themselves with a range of projects. The senior team will get together and assess the proposals presented by less experienced staff, in a formal process of internal peer review.”

At Harwood we have high levels of competency: “We strive to upskill our staff at all times, we monitor professional development, we monitor the progress of staff members from the beginning of their careers through to professional recognition and qualification.”

The structured and organised approach our teams take, with formalised communications and regular, cross-company surveyors’ meetings, for example, allow us to maintain an agile and streamlined approach to our work.

“There’s no bureaucracy that you might find in a larger company, our varying skills and ‘teams within teams’ approach enables us to be nimble and responsive to the needs of our clients.”

Working with Harwood working means guaranteeing that safety and quality are never compromised. If you’d like to discuss how working with our building control team can make your construction project smoother, contact Harwood today.