Daniel Cook

"Initially I became interested in construction after taking part in a practical construction unit task at school. My interests soon turned to surveying once I had learnt the variety of work it involves."

Job Title: Commercial Graduate Trainee

Employer: Crest Nicholson PLC

Job: Commercial Manager / Chief Surveyor

About my job

What does your department do?

There are three main areas within the Commercial department – Estimating, Buying and Surveying.

Estimators review drawings and specifications of a site and advise on the total build cost, which is particularly important when assessing the viability of a site and getting a project approved. Estimators will also produce and set the budgets for each trade during the construction stages.

Buyers are responsible for procuring the construction materials. They produce all schedules and quantities of the materials required for construction from the production drawings and use these schedules to place orders.

Surveyors are responsible for procurement and tendering processes as well as ensuring financial control is kept on all projects. They are responsible for the creation of tender packages, negotiating costs with sub-contractors and value engineers and managing the sub-contractors when on site dealing with any variations or issues, should they arise. They are also responsible for reporting on costs.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

On a day-to-day basis I assist senior surveyors and the commercial manager. My tasks include; compiling and sending out tender packages, chasing sub-contractors for quotations, completing tender analysis, arranging pre-start meetings on site and dealing with any issues or queries. I also submit clearance forms, sub-contractor orders and invoice payments via our ordering system. When my role requires I attend cost review meetings and design team meetings.

Throughout my placement I will also rotate to the other disciplines within the commercial department and assist the buyers and estimator in their roles.

What do you like about what you do?

I enjoy the fact that this role is focused on the construction part of property development. It is interesting meeting a variety of people and dealing with a wide range of logistical issues, a lot of which are site specific. You get a lot of job satisfaction when you discuss these issues with other departments e.g. Technical and find a solution as a team. I most enjoy visiting different sites regularly and witnessing projects take shape from initial drawings to a finished product.

Why did you choose this career?

Initially I became interested in construction after taking part in a practical construction unit task at school. My interests soon turned to surveying once I had learnt the variety of work it involves. Following some work experience at a surveyors office specialising in commercial property advice, I learnt that I preferred the construction side of surveying rather than the property consultancy side.

Working for a large residential developer such as Crest Nicholson provides you with the opportunity to develop professionally. The Graduate Scheme provides opportunities to rotate and experience other departments such as Technical, Build, Land & Planning, Sales & Marketing, Customer Services and Finance. This is very beneficial and allows you to learn about all aspects of the business.

What qualifications did you need to get this job?

Degrees in Quantity Surveying and Construction Management are very relevant and beneficial for getting into this role. I graduated with a RICS accredited degree in Property Development BSc (Hons) which was quite broad but it involved a number of quantity surveying modules. If you are looking to become a chartered surveyor through a graduate APC route you need a degree accredited by RICS.

Is there any particular advice you would give to someone looking for a career in your area of work?

I would say this career is suitable for someone interested in learning about residential construction and the process of property development. You should have a good work ethic and want to develop professionally. I believe it is essential to have the ability to report information and issues clearly and concisely, have good organisational skills and strong communication skills. Being able to work as part of a team is also very important.

Questions & Answers

What hobbies or interests do you have?

DJ’ing & Martial Arts.

What’s your favourite type of music?

House music.

What’s your favourite film / film genre?

Gladiator. Action/Thriller.

Where’s your favourite place to go on holiday?

Ibiza, Spain.