This month we ask Steve Blacker at award-winning property developers Kebbell to tell us a little more about a day in the life of a site manager.
What made you first want to become a site manager?
I was actually a carpenter but I was really intrigued about the running of a site and how it all came together so I progressed to an assistant site manager position and have been a site manager now for 20 years.
What skills do you need to be a site manager?
A trade background gives you a head start. You need to be knowledgeable about the build process and have some IT skills, to understand what works commercially, be good at problem solving and have a good eye for detail. Strong communication skills, being a team player and a people person are really important.
What are your main responsibilities?
I am responsible for the day-to-day running of a particular construction project being developed by Kebbell. I have one eye on the timescales and another on the budget of a project, and I manage any delays or problems encountered and deal with all the sub-contractors. I like to get the best out of the people on site and our designs. Encouragement and quality are key. I keep a close eye on snagging and do daily inspections.
Tell me about your typical day?
Really every day is different depending on things like deliveries, weather, snagging, who is on site, the stage of the development and so on. There is a lot of travel involved because I live in Welwyn Garden City and drive every day, and occasionally at the weekends, to whichever site I am working from.
I get to site usually about 07:20 and spend the first part of the morning checking all of the tradespeople are okay and are aware of what the priorities of the day are. I order materials, I might deal with local residents or councillors or health and safety officers. Building inspectors do frequent visits at key stages. At about 16:45 I finish on site having made sure everything is locked up and is secure and I then head home and start looking forward to the weekend. I enjoy a clay-pigeon shoot!
What are the best and hardest things about the job?
The best thing is definitely taking a development from muddy field to building amazing new homes and then seeing buyers and their families move in. I enjoy seeing it all the way through. The hardest thing is when unexpected delays occur. Sometimes contractors or suppliers can’t meet deadlines which means schedules get pushed out which can be frustrating. Kebbell have an exceptionally high requirement level for quality and sometimes tricky conversations have to be had with tradespeople.
What have you been working on lately?
I have worked at Kebbell for five years, most recently on a new development of 8, two bedroom apartments called Misbourne House in Gerrards Cross which is set to complete in early 2021. One of the main issues I had to deal with on this project was getting hold of the materials we needed during both national lockdowns. I am shortly moving to a new site at Iver which will be a bigger build as a collection of 39, two and three bedroom luxurious apartments in three blocks with basement parking. The bigger project means more tradespeople on site. I like the variety but don’t really have a favourite project although I enjoy high end developments because of the even greater attention to detail needed.
What has been your proudest moment?
I was chosen for an NHBC Pride in the Job Quality Award in 2019 for the work I did as Site Manager at our Aubury Place development in London. We got top marks from an inspector and then I was chosen as award winner by a director of NHBC. We went to the awards dinner in Brighton and it was one of my proudest moments.
How long do you stay on a project at any one time?
It really depends on the size and build of the project. For example, I spent three years working on Aubury Place but just one year at Misbourne House.
How has Covid-19 affected your job?
It has mostly affected our suppliers and several times we have been close to the wire like nearly running out of roofing materials! As Misbourne House is made up of eight apartments social distancing was easily achieved by the tradespeople working separately in each apartment.
What do you think makes Kebbell different from other housebuilders?
Everyone at Kebbell is a team player and we always strive to deliver the best homes possible. We are always looking for any opportunities to enhance a house. For example, if it is possible to create a little more storage or change the position of a TV point, to maximise the flexibility of a room, we will take the time and effort to do that. It is often me who sees these opportunities whilst we are building so I will consult with Nick Kebbell, our Managing Director, and the rest of the team and together we perfect the change. We always think about how people will actually live in our homes and constantly question “would I be happy with that in my house?” If the answer is no then we make any changes necessary to turn it into a yes!
What do you think makes a house a home?
Family is what makes a house a home.
To find out more visit https://kebbell.co.uk