Member focus

Abbie Holt ACABE, Assistant Building Control Surveyor at Ball and Berry, on her unexpected route into the profession.

Q Have you always had an interest in construction/engineering?

I wasn’t sure what profession I would follow – I certainly hadn’t considered construction. I joined Ball and Berry building control in an admin role, but I quickly found I had a keen interest in learning about all aspects of construction, from the legislation to how the bricks are laid. I was hooked.

I had almost no knowledge of building control procedures or even why building control was required, but my interest in the subject grew. I became particularly enthusiastic about the Building Regulations and the Building Act and wanted to enhance my understanding of their requirements.

In my employment, I was given the opportunity to grow my interest through professional qualifications in building control. Six years later, I have completed a level 3 NVQ and level 4 diploma and am eager to continue.

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

Yes, I always thought I’d be in an admin role, but three years into my role I was given the opportunity to progress as a Trainee Building Control Surveyor. This allowed me to get out on-site with other surveyors and experience a different side to building control. The on-site experience helped me realise I wanted to work towards a more technical role, resulting in my position today as an Assistant Building Control Surveyor.

Q What are the current challenges of your role?

I suffer from dyslexia but wasn’t diagnosed until early on in my career. It means I require a different learning style to most people.

After being offered a route on an NVQ, I realised that there was a different way to gain professional qualifications that could be adapted to suit me. It can prove challenging at times, but as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Q What question do you get asked most often?

If I’m on-site, it tends to be questions such as, ‘Should you not be at home cooking?’ – very amusing.

If I’m in the office, it is more people asking, ‘How it’s going? How are you finding it?’

Q What inspires you?

Without the support of the directors at Ball and Berry, I very much doubt I would be on the career path I am today. Early on, my eagerness to learn was noticed and the directors took this as an opportunity to incorporate it into my everyday role.

The continued support and knowledge given inspires me to want to do better for myself, but also to demonstrate that they had put in their time and energy for a good reason.

Q What is the biggest challenge facing the profession, in your opinion?

In my opinion, the most significant challenge confronting the profession is the notable gender disparity within the construction industry – there’s a substantial overrepresentation of men compared to women.

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

To start a savings account – ha ha!  

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