3 April 2019
Noel is an Associate at development consultancy PRP LLP
What’s your background?
My early career was spent working for my father’s construction firm before becoming a building inspector in Suffolk. I moved to London around eight years ago and progressed through the ranks at NHBC in both an inspection role and then into a technical role where I was assessing the design and technical aspects of non-conventional construction. This included everything from a single plot with a basement to a multi-storey tower with unitised cladding.
After gaining contractor experience at Durkan working as a quality manager, NHBC enticed me back to work within their Major Projects Team, where I found myself dealing with all the technical risks associated with high rise projects such as the Lots Road Power Station redevelopment.
How long have been in your current role?
I joined design consultancy PRP six months ago.
What does your current role entail?
With Andrew Mellor at PRP driving fire inspection services and assessments for housing associations on existing façades, I joined the firm to help in developing this service. This entails advising the client on the design and suitability of their façades, and the redesign of the façade if not compliant. This end-to-end service involves cost consultancy and a project management service, and site inspection services when a new façade is being installed.
What are some of the most important challenges facing the construction industry today?
It’s important to recognise that buildings are complex and sophisticated, therefore the competency of individuals is absolutely key. We need to be getting the right people into the industry and enticing young people. An ageing workforce has meant a lot of the experience and expertise in the industry will be lost, creating a skills gap.
What do you think of Hackitt’s ‘golden thread’ of design?
In a sense, this ‘golden thread’ has always been there and existed within Regulation 38 of the Building Regulations. It requires as-built information for a building to be communicated and that will form part of the ‘golden thread’. This has been extended further with the draft London Plan which talks about fire strategies being considered upfront at the planning stage. Hackitt and the draft London Plan has pushed Regulation 38 information that much further so that it needs to be considered at conception and all the way through the design, build and operating process. The ‘golden thread’ and digital record of the future will, therefore, be key considerations for new builds moving forward.
Who is ultimately responsible?
The construction industry is so fragmented that it makes it very difficult to make one person responsible. It’s important everyone understands their responsibility and their duty which shouldn’t stop at the end of what they are doing. Those involved in a project should still be co-ordinating and co-operating with everyone else within the building chain to ensure what is designed and specified is procured and ultimately constructed.
How can housebuilders balance climate change targets with profitability?
Modern Methods of Construction has a part to play in the demand for homes, skills shortages and environmental considerations. Quality management is an important aspect of that in terms of reducing waste through offsite assembly. There needs to be a ‘golden thread’ between what is designed and manufactured in a factory and what is installed on site. It can become fragmented when follow-on trades struggle to understand these new methods of construction. It’s where you have issues with quality and defects.
How important is the role of the Building Engineer within the industry?
CABE’s affiliation with the Engineering Council will bolster the competency of individuals. There is a key place for Building Engineers and the Association within the future Hackitt world. CABE has an important role to play, whether working in a site-inspection role for a consultancy like myself, or as a building control professional.
What do you like most about your work?
In my current role, the opportunity to work on so many diverse projects is incredibly appealing. Whether it’s a two-storey house or multi-storey project, there is a wonderful balance between the technological aspects as well as visiting a site and seeing the nuts and bolts of a project coming together.
When did you become a member of CABE and what do you see as the benefits?
I became a Chartered Member in August 2017, gaining knowledge and recognition within the industry. Within the building control and inspection environment, CABE is very important. It provides a lot of CPD on technical aspects, building regulations and is another route to gaining insight into changes that happen in the industry. Moving forward, I am keen to see what I need to do to gain the additional CEng qualification.
How do you attract your people into the industry?
The world of construction is far-reaching. With technological advancements finding their way into the built environment, this will be attractive to the next generation. However, being out on site and at the coalface brings diversity to the role, believe it or not it's actually quite pleasant during the summer.
More Information on CABE Membership.