What You Need to Know
- Building control officers ensure that all the relevant rules and regulations are followed when new buildings are being constructed
- You may be working for a local council or, equally, you may find work with a private construction firm
- Daily activities can involve working closely with builders and architects, carrying out site visits, writing reports and checking public safety
- There is no one fixed route to becoming a building control officer, though you may need to have good academic qualifications to enter the profession
- Many UK universities offer three or four-year degree courses in relevant subjects, though studies should always be complemented with practical experience
- Once qualified, the Association of Building Engineers offers a number of short courses that can help you push ahead in this career
- As a newly-qualified building control officer you can earn upwards of £21,000 a year, while senior professionals may earn double this
What Do Building Control Officers Do?
Building control officers usually – but not always – work for local councils, ensuring that all the relevant rules and regulations are followed when new buildings are being constructed. The work can be highly demanding, but also highly rewarding, particularly if you take pride in seeing a project finished to the highest-possible standard.
As a building control officer, your job will be varied, with no two days being the same. Some of your main responsibilities may include:
- Working directly with architects, engineers and builders on everything from initial planning proposals right through to the completion of a project.
- Drawing up plans for energy efficiency and accessibility for a new building and ensuring these are closely followed.
- Carrying out regular site inspections, keeping accurate records and, if necessary, issuing safety certificates.
- Inspecting buildings damaged by fire or bad weather, checking their safety and, on occasion, ordering their demolition.
- Checking safety levels at sports matches, concerts and other events.
Qualifications and Skills
There is no one fixed route to becoming a building control officer, though, as a rule, you will be need to have good academic qualifications to enter the profession. For starters, then, you will need at least two good A-levels. Alongside this, many employers will also want you to have a degree. Fortunately, a number of UK colleges and universities offer related degrees, usually requiring three or four years full-time study. Options open to you include:
- Glasgow Caledonian University: Here, you can take a four-year BSc (Hons) in Building Surveying, with classroom learning complemented by practical experience.
- University of Westminster: Again, the course here requires four years full-time study towards a BSc (Hons) in Building Surveying.
- Leeds College of Building: This specialist college offers degrees and HND courses in Building Control Surveying, with both courses requiring at least five good GCSEs and two good A-levels.
Alongside academic qualifications, you will need to possess a wide range of supplementary skills and personal attributes. For instance, employers will almost certainly look for:
- A solid working knowledge of building rules and regulations.
- An understanding of the technical side of construction projects and even a good understating of civil engineering.
- Excellent organisational skills, the ability to manage your own time, meet deadlines and juggle several tasks at once.
- The ability to work as part of a team that may include construction industry professionals, architects, council officials and members of the public.
- Strong IT skills and excellent problem-solving abilities.
Training and Development
Once you start work as a building control officer, there are a number of paths you can take to further your career, with many local councils actively supporting their employee’s training and development.
The Association of Building Engineers (ABE) (http://www.abe.org.uk/learning/continuing-professional-development/) offers a range of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses, giving you the chance to boost your career prospects and earnings. Information on its varied courses is available on the ABE website, while the professional body also organises regular networking and training events across the UK.
Similarly, the Royal Society of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) offers a range of specialist qualifications geared towards helping you progress in this field. As with the ABE, to gain a RICS qualification you will need to pass written exams and have your professional competence assessed, though, generally speaking, the effort is worth it.
Pay and Benefits
As a newly-qualified building control officer you can expect to earn upwards of £21,000 a year in your first job, with starting salaries often as high as £27,000.
Experienced inspectors can earn up to £40,000 a year, with senior management-level inspectors – particularly those employed in the private sector – often earning in excess of £55,000 a year.
Alongside good levels of pay, working as a building control officer is intellectually-challenging and often highly rewarding, giving you the chance to work alongside a wide range of professional experts towards a common goal.
Despite the many benefits, working as a building control officer can have its downsides. Above all, the work can be stressful; you will be required to take on a large degree of responsibility, plus you will need to work to strict deadlines. Moreover, while the job is usually nine-to-five, you may be required to be ‘on call’ in the evening or over the weekend in case your help is needed assessing a building damaged by a fire, for example.
The public sector is the biggest single employer of building control officers, with local councils having their own small teams of experts on hand to ensure all new construction projects adhere to all the relevant rules and regulations.
A good place to look for new jobs, then is the Local Government Talent website www.lgjobs.com. Here you can browse thousands of positions for the one right for you plus you can also register for regular job alerts.
For jobs in the private sector, try the RICS recruit (http://www.ricsrecruit.com/) website, where jobs with employers large and small are posted on a regular basis.