Meet your local area Surveyor: Plymouth
First in the series of getting to know our South West Surveyors is Chris Maslen.
Chris is based in our Plymouth office, covering here and the surrounding area. We asked him some questions to find out more about his work background, typical work day and his client relationships.
Tell us about your work background and the types of projects you have worked on in your area
“I have over 10 years’ experience working as a Chartered Building Control Surveyor in rural and city locations.
In my earlier years as a trainee I managed areas of the South Hams whilst completing my post graduate degree in Building Surveying – namely barn conversions, extensions, loft conversions and simple new build houses and other building work. After graduation I managed industrial and commercial buildings within towns and bespoke complex dwellings (new build, change of use and extensions) in affluent Dartmouth and Kingswear.
In my most recent previous employment as a Principal with Plymouth City Council I was fortunate to work on the more complex and challenging buildings in the city. In 2021 two developments with the University of Plymouth – the change of use of high-rise (over 45m) Intercity House at Plymouth train station, and on the university campus an extensive extension of the existing marine research educational building including a wave machine and a virtual training centre for RNLI and other pilots.
Surrounding Plymouth centre there are areas of green and brown fields designated for development – volume house building to the north of the city at Derriford has commenced and more to start in 2023. And this year it has been announced that Plymouth and South Devon is to be a “freeport” including the Langage Energy Park.
The Plympton Langage Industrial Estate seems to be always expanding – I recently completed a phase of industrial buildings (storage and processing of articles) and I am aware of further planning approval. In the past two years or so we have seen an increase in fit-outs to provide storage platforms/mezzanine/first storey office.
Dotted around the city there are some creative industry organisations and other office type uses occupying empty shopping department stores – the Covid pandemic has resulted in more mixed tenancies, hot desking etc and not enough escape stairs!
Plymouth Derriford Hospital Trust is upgrading, changing and extending their estate, and Devonport Royal Dockyard has a very mixed bag of complexities. I have managed some simple thermal renovations and internal alterations to office buildings, and projects spanning in excess of a seven year build programme.”
Take us through your typical work day as a Building Control Surveyor in Plymouth
“There isn’t one!
I like to start early – check and set my activities for the day.
I will typically attend 2-3 technical advice meetings with Architects and Building Surveyors for projects at their earliest concept stage – I provide a light-touch check on the Building Regulations requirements triggered and discuss the guidance normally applied to that type of building – fire safety provisions including building height assessment, travel distances, number of stairs, and also Part L and F thermal and ventilation performance, and Part M access to and use of buildings.
We are invested in the value that this early engagement provides for all involved in the design and construction of a building. With the introduction of the Building Safety Regulator and the gateway framework for “in-scope” buildings, designers will need to have suitable fire safety statements / considerations for a valid planning submission; but why not take this approach for all buildings???
Site visits take place throughout the week at no particular time. I arrange my dairy to suit the activities on site or the member(s) of the design team that I’m meeting with. The Plymouth office has been appointed to sites throughout Cornwall and Devon – we are mindful of our carbon footprint and try to arrange visits to sites in one journey. We are travelling as far as Torquay for a conversion of a casino to a hotel, and to Truro for a block of flats and coastal holiday homes. The provision of new build portal frame industrial buildings in Plymouth/Plympton continues to be on-trend as well as small tower blocks of between 8-12 flats replacing redundant buildings and/or empty plots.”
Describe what a successful partnership between yourself and your client looks like
“I pride myself on my open and proactive relationship with my clients to help them achieve building regulations compliance – I endeavour to give clear direction and offer the routes to satisfying requirements.
A successful relationship would see me being invited to become part of a design team at an early stage so I can be there through all the RIBA stages to provide a clear understanding of the requirements and offer experience and solutions for their route to compliance.”
Our Plymouth office is the youngest office in the company, how is the growth of this office going?
“The Plymouth office is less than a year old – we continue to invest in raising our profile, meeting with new clients, engaging with old connections, demonstrating the value our service can provide.
Every couple of days I try to check-in with LinkedIn – it’s a great source for real-time information and updates in the construction sector, namely legislation and product innovation.
We are very pleased to have just had another Principal join the office, Rebecca Morley. Rebecca has a wealth of experience and knowledge of the construction sector, and over past few years she has worked as a Principal Building Control Officer managing complex residential and commercial buildings in a city and leading a team of Area Surveyors and Trainees.
Over the next few months, we will continue to engage with our existing Clients and meet new ones. We are sociable people who are committed and enthusiastic to provide our best to the Building Control profession, to doing better without comprise.”
As you can see, Chris is extremely knowledgeable on all types of construction sectors and has extensive experience working on all sized projects. Contact Chris on Chris.Maslen@cookbrown.co.uk or 075137 11036 to discuss your upcoming projects for compliance advice.