Building inspectors, sometimes called building control officers or building surveyors, are qualified professionals who have expertise in building regulations and requirements. The primary role of a building inspector is to ensure that any construction or building work adheres to the relevant building regulations, visit a site or property at regular intervals to conduct thorough inspections.
When homeowners develop or build on their property, a building inspector will be appointed by a local authority or a private firm. Usually, building inspectors working for a private company are more flexible and able to carry out inspections at the homeowner’s convenience, though they may be more expensive. Conversely, inspectors appointed by a local authority are a little more affordable, though the wait may be longer to secure their services.
Certain things, like repairs and maintenance, power and lighting points, and buildings that are not for habitable use under 30m2, do not require a building inspection, but larger more complex projects need building regulations approval.
Generally speaking, the building regulations that building inspectors adhere to set standards for construction and design, making sure that health and safety are taken into account at all times. Because of this, building inspectors must have a wealth of knowledge and a firm grasp of the current regulations.
What do building inspectors do?
When you work in building inspection, no two days will be the same – the field is varied and highly fulfilling ranging from site work to office work.
Typically, building inspectors will work on planning and construction projects to ensure they are up to standard, and these projects can be anything from an extension at a residential home to larger-scale commercial or residential developments.
On an average day, building inspectors will work alongside architects, builders and developers to make sure everything meets the regulations. The role of a building inspector also involves recommending ways to improve cost-efficiency, and building inspectors are becoming more involved in making construction more sustainable.
Site inspections are a staple of this role, with every stage of the building process observed and logged in inspection reports, so meticulous attention to detail is a must-have trait.
Every decision a building inspector makes will need to take into account a whole host of other factors, so a wide working knowledge of the construction process is highly advantageous.
What training do building inspectors need?
Building inspectors need to undergo training to ensure they’re fit to carry out the task at hand. To start, most building inspectors have an HND or similar, or even an equivalent qualification in subjects related to building construction.
Building inspectors can enter this career through college or university, an apprenticeship, or work experience with an approved firm. The training needed to become a building inspector will take students through a course of professional development, from a junior role to full competency.
When newly qualified building inspectors begin working, they will be able to apply all of their training and knowledge to their new role, while learning more skills as their career progresses. If desired, building inspectors can also undertake further accreditations and training.
Some employers may prefer their building inspectors to be accredited with a professional body like the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the Chartered Institute of Building Engineers (CABE). This isn’t necessary, but that extra accreditation can help building inspectors go a step further in some cases.
What skills do I need to be a building inspector?
Due to the extensive knowledge required to work in this field, building inspectors need to be good at retaining a wide range of information. Because it encompasses so many different areas, a strong knowledge of the entire construction process is vital, though building inspectors can specialise in specific areas.
Another skill that building inspectors need is the ability to keep detailed records. Building inspection reports are a key part of the role, requiring extensive evidence gathering and note-taking. Some building inspectors use the traditional pen and paper to conduct these reports, though many are now moving to smarter, more efficient software to conduct building inspections.
Attention to detail, being great with people, the ability to take the initiative and analytical thinking will also stand any prospective building inspectors in good stead, helping them to progress in their career.
How much do building inspectors get paid?
There is no flat rate for a qualified building inspector as the role is so varied. However, new entrants to the field can expect to start with a salary between £22,000 to £27,000 per year, depending on experience and location. More experienced surveyors can then progress towards a salary of between £30,000 and £40,000 per year, with senior surveyors netting approximately £60,000 per year. With ample experience, building inspectors can progress into management roles like site management or construction management, or even into more technical roles like building surveying and civil engineering.