Building control surveyors make sure that building regulations and other legislation are followed when houses, offices and other buildings are designed and constructed. They also check that property alterations, such as extensions and conversions, meet regulations. They may have different job titles, such as district surveyor or building inspector.
Building regulations are national standards for constructing buildings and are intended to make sure people in or around the building are safe. They also cover energy conservation and access for disabled people.
Before construction gets under way, building control surveyors check applicants' plans, drawings and specifications to make sure they meet the regulations. Surveyors employed by local authorities can reject plans that fail to meet the building regulations. They also advise applicants on changes that will ensure the legal requirements are met.
Once the work begins, building control surveyors visit the site at different stages to ensure that the construction work is being properly carried out.
Their work includes:
If the building control surveyor believes a building no longer conforms to the regulations, they will ask for changes to be made. If changes are not made, they may have to take the owner or builder to court.
The work involves liaising with members of the public, councillors, planning officers, construction professionals and organisations such as the fire service, environmental health departments and the Environment Agency. They may also liaise with historic building conservation officers and special interest groups such as the national heritage organisations (the National Trust, English Heritage, Historic Scotland and Cadw).
Other areas of work may involve licensing, safety at sports grounds, control of demolition and street naming and numbering.
Occasionally, building control surveyors may be called out in emergencies to check the safety of buildings that have been damaged by fire or accidents.
In local authorities, building control surveyors normally work 35 to 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Some are on call 24 hours a day in case the emergency services need their expertise to inspect a dangerous building. Flexitime, part-time work and job sharing may be available.
Building control surveyors split their time between the office and site visits. They could be on site in all weather conditions. They may also need to wear safety equipment such as waterproofs, safety boots and hard hats, and sometimes need to climb scaffolding and ladders.
The work involves local travel so a driving licence may be useful.
Starting salaries may be around £16,000 to £20,000 a year.
Overall, there are around 4,500 building control surveyors in England and Wales. There is a shortage of qualified staff.
Local authorities are the main employers of building control surveyors, who tend to work in building control departments or in departments providing a range of property-related services.
A small number of building control surveyors are approved building inspectors. They need to be registered on the Construction Industry Council's Approved Inspectors' Register. There are 61 approved inspectors on the register - 22 individuals and 39 businesses.
Jobs are advertised in Building Control Journal and Building Engineer. Trainee posts may be advertised in local Jobcentre Plus offices, Connexions centres and local newspapers.
Most direct entrants into building control surveying have at least two A levels/H grades or a degree. The minimum entry requirements are five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), including maths, a science subject and a subject that demonstrates the use of written English.
Relevant qualifications include the BTEC/SQA Higher National Diploma (HND) in Building Studies or Civil Engineering, or a degree in a subject such as building control surveying, building surveying or civil engineering.
For an HND, the minimum entry requirements are normally one A level/two H grades and four GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3). For a degree, they are usually two A levels/three H grades and five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), including English and maths.
Some entrants combine on-the-job training with day or block release study towards a BTEC/SQA National Certificate/Diploma or an HNC/HND in Building Studies over three to five years. They may also work towards NVQ/SVQ Level 4 in Built Environment Development and Control.
Graduates with relevant degrees usually receive on-the-job training to top up their academic experience.
Many local authorities recruit staff as assistant building control surveyors and support them through part-time study until they become fully qualified.
Employers may require building control surveyors to be members of a professional body, such as the:
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) - membership is with an appropriate RICS-approved degree, postgraduate qualification or diploma.
Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) - for surveyors who specialise in architectural surveying.
The Association of Building Engineers (ABE) - members are professionals who specialise in building technology.
The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) - for surveyors specialising in the conservation of the historic environment.
Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions to help scientists, technologists and others with their work. They can work in research and development, scientific analysis and testing, education and manufacturing.
They are employed in a wide range of scientific fields which affect almost every aspect of our lives.
Building control surveyors should:
The larger local authorities with large building control departments usually have well-established promotion routes to team leader, senior building control officer and head of department.
Building control surveyors may diversify into other branches of surveying, including home inspection surveys for home information packs (HIPs).
It is also possible to become self-employed, work as a consultant or specialise in an area such as fire protection.
Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB),
Englemere, Kings Ride, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7TB
Tel: 01344 630700
Construction Industry Council,
The Building Centre, 26 Store Street, London WC1E 7BT
Tel: 020 7399 7400
The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC),
Jubilee House, High Street, Tisbury, Wiltshire SP3 6HA
Tel: 01747 873133
Local Authority Building Control (LABC),
137 Lupus Street, London SW1V 3HE
Tel: 020 7641 8737
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS),
Surveyor Court, Westwood Way, Coventry CV4 8JE
Tel: 0870 333 1600
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.