David Owen, 43, is Redrow Homes northern regional engineer. The company is currently looking for a regional engineer to perform a similar role in the south of England.
Route to the job
I worked as a consulting engineering technician with Curtins from 1974 -78, took a full time degree at Aston University from 1978-81 and returned to Curtins in 1981. I left in 1982 to join RT James, returned again to Curtins in 1985 and two years later I became chartered. I then worked for RT James for a second time, staying six years, the most satisfying professional period of my life. After that I worked for Acer - now Hyder - and because of the marketing role I had there I was then invited to join David McLean as an engineering manager on design and build projects. I was there for four years, working on high profile partnering schemes with such companies as Shell UK and Barclays.
I expected the job to require broad engineering knowledge and the ability to communicate and liaise with consultants and our in house technical teams. Bringing a different sort of expertise into the organisation was a very important part of the job.
Some might think that you do not need real engineering skills in the housing sector but I would challenge that when we have brownfield sites to build on, and need to adopt a team spirit which includes all the professional bodies.
My work does have lots of variety - I see designers, review reports, and occasionally challenge them. The type of housing we work on varies too - it could be estates, it could be small scale, 'high density' housing which is integrated into the environment. And we are in the process of designing a nine storey apartment block in Manchester.
I act as an extra support to construction teams. If a construction manager is unhappy with a design, I act as a liaison link with all concerned and my job is to value engineer a better solution.
First, I would recommend engineers to go into housing; this is not a third rate engineering field. You have to build houses that are safe and secure - it is an important job. Engineers need to see that they are built properly. You may not be building fantastic bridges - but it is about creating an integrated environment.
And if you want to go into this field - you do need broad expertise, including commercial awareness, communication skills and the ability to put complex ideas into layman's language.