Name: Theresa Elesmore-Everiss

Tell us about you and your background!
Originally from Derbyshire, I grew up in the country and have always had a keen interest in Art and Design, Construction and the Built Environment. I believe some of this stemmed from my father’s influence who was a ‘Health and Safety Trainer’. I would quite often attend sites with him during the weekends whilst I was growing up, witnessing new construction developments, as he would be assisting/training operatives within construction sites to operate the machinery as well as courses in line with the ‘Health and Safety Executive’.

Having left school, I entered a BTEC in Art & Design at Chesterfield College. I also studied A-Levels and an Interior Design course during the evenings at the same time. From there, I went on to being accepted to study my degree in Interior Architecture at the ‘Kent Institute of Art & Design’, which is now ‘UCA’.

It was not until 2004 that I applied for the position of a ‘Trainee Building Control Surveyor’ at Gravesend (Gravesham Borough Council). I learnt whilst ‘on the job’, being supervised by one of the leading ‘Senior Surveyors’ and attended a day release college course at ‘Mid Kent College’ in an ONC in Construction. I then decided to make the transition to work for an Approved Inspector in the City of London, where my career has remained in the private sector.  I then went on to complete an HNC in Building Surveying.

Initially I took a break to have my elder daughter and returned to work after a year. I now have two daughters aged 8 years and 3 years, and I juggle parental responsibilities with having my career as a ‘Building Control Surveyor’.

Over the years, I have developed and gained considerable experience with ‘The Building Regulations’ and further legislation from a wide variety of projects in both the public and private sectors such as High-end Residential, Commercial, New Build, Extensions and Renovations.

What are the typical daily duties on site for a Building Control Surveyor?
As a Building Control Surveyor, I work on the planning and construction phases of building projects within the Built Environment to ensure that the building/development meets the legal requirements/Building Standards set out within the Building Regulations for specific building work. The Building Regulations are made under powers provided in the Building Act 1984 and apply in England and Wales. The current edition of the regulations is ‘The Building Regulations 2010’ along with revisions issued from time to time and most building projects are required to comply with them. These regulations set standards for aspects of building works such as Fire, Acoustics, Energy use, Accessibility etc.  Projects can range from a small Extension to Commercial developments whether this is a small Retail Fit Out or a new Office Building.

My daily duties are as follows:

– Work closely with Architects, Designers, Builders and Engineers.
– Make sure building designs and plans meet Building Regulations and produce a ‘Plan Check Report’ document which details a review against drawings received and items for which I may require additional information.
– Suggest ways to make the building project more cost effective such as reducing energy and water usage.
– Undertake regular Site Inspections at each stage of the building process and record the inspection within Site Reports and that these records are retained.
– Issue Completion Certificates.

What are the values and skills of a Building Control Surveyor?
– Knowledge of building and construction
– Having great attention to detail
– The ability to use their own initiative
– Analytical thinking skills
– Patience and the ability to reason and remain calm in stressful situations
– Excellent customer service skills.

What does your role entail when you are not out visiting sites?
Principally I help a variety of people in responding to emails or phone conversations about technical queries, new fee proposals for potential new works, updating records on existing projects and more importantly sitting and reviewing drawing and specification packages on planned work. This is beneficial as early as possible in the design process. A good Surveyor can observe and highlight areas that show non compliance. I can add value at this stage of a project and help to ensure the client gets a compliant design.

This is vital as early as possible to ensure that the project team are aware of any issues with the current design that do not fall within the Building Regulations or other legislation if applicable. A good Surveyor can observe and problem solve in terms of areas that show no compliance and is a good opportunity at this stage to add value to a project and help to ensure the client gets the building that they envisage whist complying to the Building Regulations.

What do you like about your role?
My career is varied, and each day is never the same, which I enjoy about the role. It means that in one day, I could visit a simple Extension, Retail Unit, Office Fit Out or a new Commercial Office building. These visits allow me to inspect work being undertaken by a variety Contractors. I am not office based, as I get to travel and see the areas that I cover, especially in the city of London. I appreciate seeing these developments from the design inception to the completed works which provides me with a great sense of satisfaction and pride.

What are the most challenging aspects of this role?
The main challenges at present within the industry are changes to legislation, learning from past mistakes and moving forward with a different mindset to implement these new standards with the relevant Consultants and Contractors on site.

How does the industry treat you?
Being a woman in the industry you may think that I have found gender challenges in a male dominated industry. However, I have never felt this, and I have always been well supported; particularly by my Peers, Colleagues and Contractors that I meet in design team meetings and on site. People are respectful and respond positively with any comments that I make. I am glad the number of females working in construction has increased over the years.

Can you provide examples of what kind of mistakes you most commonly come across?
There can be a great number of common mistakes found whether this be in the early stages of design and the ambitions of creating the client’s expectations which may not be compliant with the Building Legislation set. Then there are common mistakes of Fire Compartmentation on site and the minimum requirements and what materials that are adequate for the application to problems with dpc levels. Ultimately, the key is to be provided with as many details and specifications at design stage to rule out misinterpretations of the Guidance. Highlight to the client/design team issues early on and then it is paramount to ensure that the contractors adhere to these approved details, specifications and manufacturer’s installation recommendations for their materials/products incorporated within the development.

How do you ensure that you are adding value?
On all projects, I must consider how my decisions will affect the Designers/Contractors’ time and costs. If I decide that a building project does not meet Building Regulations, it is vital to be part of the design decisions early on to gauge and assist in the design on paper rather than when works are on site.

How to you uphold team spirit?
Within the company I hold a position as a ‘Principal Building Control Surveyor’ and I am lucky to have an amazing group of colleagues who have a wealth of experience and am able to discuss design issues and even technical issues that may arise out of a design or in reality when constructing a detail on site. Being in the position that I am, I can also support younger members of the team and watch them grow and develop into their careers as confident Building Control Surveyors. I believe there is a shortage of experienced Building Control Surveyors so mentoring is my way of continuing the cycle.

What do you enjoy most about this role?
I love helping our clients achieve their dreams by guiding them through compliance with the Building Regulations and other legislation whether this is building an extension onto their existing home, a new house or even simply seeing a workplace created. The most satisfying aspect of my job is receiving an application, reviewing the plans, inspecting the works on site and seeing the result. By being involved in an important part of the process I can say that I have been part of that building’s history!