Q&A with Assistant Site Manager Chelsey Salt
We recently caught up with our new assistant site manager Chelsey Salt, who will be based at our Cirencester development Orchard Field. Chelsey joined us back in March and we look forward to watching her progress within the company.
Tell us about your background Chelsey
I was born in Leicestershire and left school when I was 16 to begin a plumbing and heating apprenticeship. I worked on site for nine years for a plumbing company, after that I worked in the office as an estimator, planning heating designs and estimating for contracts we were bidding for.
So you decided office life wasn’t for you?
Not at all! After ten months I had had enough and decided I preferred being out in the fresh air rather than in an office all day. I could have gone back to plumbing and although I loved doing it I wanted to progress. A manager had a contact at Barratt Homes and he put me in touch with a director who offered me a job as an assistant site manager.
So you were still in an office then?
Not really, being an assistant manager means you get the best of both worlds, the day is split between being out on site and being in the site office. I was able to study for an NVQ level 4 in site management alongside learning on the job. The training taught me how to plan tasks, run a site and what I needed to look out for and the NVQ gave me the technical knowledge I needed.
So how did the move to Stonewood come about?
One of my ex-colleagues was at Stonewood and he organised a chat over Teams with some of the directors. They were all so enthusiastic about the company and the site that as soon as the call ended, I knew it was the place I wanted to be. I just had such a good feeling with everything they were saying. That was even more so after visiting the sites at Somerbrook and The Tannery and seeing the quality they were producing.
How have you found it switching to management?
You do have difficult days, especially as a young person and a young female, but it has been great. Generally, there’s a mutual respect between the guys on site and myself. The way I see it, if you treat them right, they treat you right. Site management comes with lots of responsibilities. When you are working as a tradesperson, you don’t realise how much goes into running the site and how much health and safety and paperwork is involved. It was a bit of a shock to the system, but it is part of the job, so you just get used to it.
What’s the most important thing about your role?
Health and safety is definitely a big factor, making sure people sign in, stick to the walkways and obey the rules. At Siddington it will be especially crucial because we are working with timber-framed houses. To make sure you stay on top of the site progress I try to walk round every day and look at every plot. I speak to all the tradesman and make sure they are okay and if there are any issues, they can show me in situ. I make sure that from our programme everybody is doing what they should be doing so we aren’t hit with any unnecessary delays. I check their work afterwards to make sure it is being done to the standard we require. I generally will be getting the homes through their inspections and customer ready.
What are the challenges?
I’m a bit of a perfectionist and for me the challenge is getting the houses up to the standard that I want in the timescale you are given. I want to walk away from a finished house thinking ‘I’d love to live in that’. Stonewood put the emphasis on high quality, which is one of the reasons why I came to work here. Personally, I’d rather take a slightly longer time to build the house but get it absolutely right and I think that Stonewood want that.
So quality is a watchword?
Absolutely. We have a quality checklist for the contractors on site and they have to go in and snag their own work. Then I will go in and snag it and later the contracts manager will look at it before a director signs it off. So there are a lot of checks to make sure the standard is really high. That’s the major difference here.
Plumbing and heating is your background but you must have picked up a lot of the other skills on a construction site by now
It’s really interesting because every day is a school day and I am always learning. I like to go round all the trades and ask them what they are doing and why. I’ve picked up quite a lot of knowledge doing that and to be honest it has helped me because I’m renovating my own house in Chippenham! I’ve done everything myself by picking up tips from people on site.
The low carbon homes at Siddington are a new departure for Stonewood Partnerships. It must be interesting to be overseeing them
It is exciting to be working on this site and the sustainable homes. I enjoy telling people about the solar panels, the timber frames and the air source heat pumps. It’s a 35 acre site and we are only building on 11. Stonewood are really thinking about the customers because there is a lovely private drive into the site, an orchard, fruit trees and ponds so it will be a really nice place to live. It’s an exciting way to go as a construction project and it’s brilliant that Stonewood is really pushing it on this site. It feels like it’s the future of housebuilding and is great to be part of it.
Will you be at Orchard Field for the whole of the project?
Stonewood has such a lot of other projects in the pipeline I don’t know where they’ll want me to go. But it would be nice to see the whole site through because I have been here from the start. I was here helping the guys put up the fencing around the site before the work started so it would be lovely to be here at the end and see everyone moving in!
What are your ambitions for the future?
I am happy being an assistant site manager while I am learning and I feel like I want to take the time and learn every part of the job. I want to keep working my way up though and at Stonewood there is every opportunity to do that. The environment of the company feels really relaxed and everyone is there to help each other. It’s a nice fun and energetic place to work. I’d love to be a contracts manager one day and then maybe above that, who knows? But at the moment I’m loving what I’m doing.
Find out more about our sustainable new homes at Orchard Field by clicking the link below;