Five minutes with Kevin Dawson


After almost 50 years in local authorities, freelance public safety consultant Kevin Dawson C.Build E MCABE now focuses on training the next generation of building control professionals

Q Have you always had an interest in construction?

My dad was a senior site agent for a national company, and as a result I was occasionally allowed to accompany him on site. From that, my interest in the construction of buildings developed. This led to me being offered a position as quantity surveyor, which I turned down as I decided the role of a building control professional sounded more interesting.

Q What was your route in?

In 1970, I started my career as a trainee building inspector at Boston Borough Council. From there I moved on to several Lincolnshire local authorities, and ended up as a Building Control Manager at Peterborough City Council – a position I held for 17 years.

Early in my career, I decided to obtain a professional qualification; the only route available at that time was via a correspondence course, which led me to join CABE (then known as the Incorporated Association of Architects and Surveyors) in 1977. 

Q Did you change direction at any point and if so, why?

During 2014, I became the head of Peterborough’s Resilience Service and led on sportsground safety in Cambridgeshire. This involved football and rugby grounds, racecourses and a greyhound stadium. During 2018, I decided to leave my local authority roots behind and deliver training to new entrants into building control –

I wanted to give something back to the profession. I now work with degree students and mature entrants, and lead on introducing building control standards to future safety managers.

Q What attracted you to safety?

I have always enjoyed engaging with people, listening to their concerns and offering solutions. Also, a public protection role proved to be appealing as you never know what you are going to face from one day to the next.

Q What are the current challenges of your role?

The never-ending changes to building legislation and technical standards, and putting these across to students and professionals in a way that enables them to understand why these changes have happened. If you are able to understand the changes, this helps in accepting them.

Q What question do you get asked most often?

“How long does it take to become a fully qualified?” My reply is to make sure you have a good support network, both in the workplace and from a professional body. After three or four years, you will have gained enough confidence to have a working knowledge of legislation and technical standards, and have the knowledge to offer alternative technical solutions.

Q What inspires you?

The enthusiasm of students and new entrants. The challenge is to develop this to enable them to progress in their career. There are certainly now more opportunities given the current shortages of competent and qualified surveyors.

Q What is the biggest challenge facing the profession?

Adapting to change. For the first time, technical standards are high on the political agenda due to the net-zero carbon requirements and the Building Safety Act. Building control professionals will be at the forefront in ensuring these challenging targets are met and in ensuring the health and safety of occupants.

Q What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

To be patient and to listen and learn from others. 



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