How long have you worked in building control?

For 12 years. I passed my degree while working at Barnsley Council, but at the time there was uncertainty in jobs within the council and I went to work with the private sector.

What qualifications do you have? Did you need any additional ones for working for an local authority?

I have an HNC in Building and one in management. I have a degree – BSc Hons in Building Surveying from Sheffield Hallam University - and I am a full chartered member of the Chartered institute of Building Engineers. I'm also waiting for my results from the LABC Level 6 Fire Safety exam which offers IFE membership.

You left the private sector to join LABC. Why did you do that?

I was working for a family run business which was sold to a large investor, so I decided to look around at my options.

I had other offers in the private sector but when an opportunity came up at Barnsley I went for it as by then I had upped my knowledge and confidence as an inspector.

I knew the systems and fitted in well with the team, so this would be a good transition for me - I would also have more job security and a higher salary than first time with the council.

Does your current role differ from your previous one? If so, how?

Yes, when you're in the public sector you have more of a duty of care. For example, I deal with local residents on delicate issues like dangerous structures and enforcement issues which can sometimes overtake your day to day role as a building control surveyor.

My role in the private sector included more project management, customer care and events - there's no enforcement as such.

What are the main benefits for working for a local authority?

For me, I'm close to home, which is important as I have two young children. The council offers me job security, a good pension, flexi time and it has generally fair clear cut policies which are easy to follow, and I feel part of a team again.

Nicola with her two children


What do you like most about your current role?

Every day is different. You never know where you will be, what kind of job you'll be on, which people you'll be dealing with, or what issues may arise.

I like that I'm more involved now I have more experience and we're currently introducing the quality management system which I have been lucky enough to be involved in.

We are also looking at jobs to submit for this year’s LABC Awards which is exciting, and I recently took the new Fire Safety Level 6 exam to test my ability and try to prove my knowledge. 

And I like that I can bring different ideas back from the private sector. Not all of them fit but some do. It’s never boring and always a challenge.

What's the most exciting project you've worked on and what was your role in it?

Trying to introduce the quality management system we're working on as a team. I attended the away day in Darlington and am now involved in its implementation. I also like being involved in the LABC Awards and I've managed to get a few good quality projects submitted for this year. 

Fingers crossed they'll do well!

Has building control changed from a female perspective over this time?

I would say yes. When I first started in building control at the council as a trainee, the section was 15 strong and all male, I was the only female and still am at Barnsley Council. 

But we're accepted more on site these days than when I first started. I used to get a few strange looks from builders and the odd comment but they're used to me now.

I think sometimes they thought because I was young and a female I didn’t know what I was talking about. Now they listen to my advice and in some cases prefer to work with me and thank me for the time and effort I put into making sure I do the best for each project I work on.

Interested in making the leap from private to public building control?

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