How did you first hear about jobs in housing?
Working on a building site gave me an insight into housing and I had often spoken to the Clerk of Works from the Housing Executive. The Clerk of Works oversees and approves the standard of building. They told me about the technical aspects of the job and I knew what was expected for new buildings to be accepted.
How did you find further information about a career in housing?
There wasn't a lot of opportunity to gather information before an interview. It was really just what was available in the advertisement/job description and the recruitment pack that I received when I was invited to attend an interview. I also spoke to people who already worked in the technical side of the Housing Executive.
What was it that appealed to you when you were thinking about a job in housing?
I was looking for a job that was more secure than working on a building site. It also offered good benefits and pension arrangements. The work life balance was appealing, as was the opportunity to work flexible hours and take holidays when you choose. Before that I always had to take holidays during the 'builders' holidays' when the building sites closed.
How did you get your first job in housing?
I saw the maintenance officer job advertised in the Belfast Telegraph and thought my experience would suit the job. I felt it was time to get off a cold building site into more comfortable surroundings! I applied for the job and was successful.
What personal skills and qualifications did you have that helped you secure your first job in housing?
Twenty seven years as a joiner and foreman working on a building site gave me a good knowledgeable background into the technical aspect of building works and maintenance.
I also like to help people and am approachable and easygoing.
What skills & training have you gained since you have had your job in housing?
The environment I came from was completely different to being based in a Housing Executive office. Even simple things like answering the telephone and keyboard skills were daunting in the early days!
Many of my skills have been learned on the job and dealing with tenants on a daily basis has taught me sound people management skills and how to diffuse difficult situations.
I have also been formally trained in a number of relevant areas including:
All of these courses have helped me to do my job more efficiently and effectively.
Describe a typical day?
I usually come into the office around 8am each day. I take the time before the phones start to ring to check my appointments and inspections and to plan where I am going to go that day.
After that I try and catch up on the work that I inspected the previous day, including issuing work and inspections that need to be approved.
I usually try and leave the office by around 10.30 and start my visits. I call to the tenants and discuss problems or repairs that are needed. I post-inspect jobs that have been completed by the contractor and make sure that they are finished and up to the required standard. I can do up to fifteen inspections in a day, these vary from quick checks to make sure that simple jobs have been completed, to change of tenancy inspections which could take up to an hour and involves me ensuring that repairs to a property are up to a standard that allows the property be re-let to a new tenant.
When I come back in the afternoon I need to process the inspections from that day and issue the necessary work to the contractors.
All in all a very busy but varied day!
What would you tell people who are interested in a housing career?
This is the most flexible job I have ever had and offers me big benefits. It can be very varied and I feel a sense of achievement when people say thank you for the work that I've done.
Recently I arranged and planned for an access ramp to be installed for a lady who hadn't managed to get out of her house for a number of years. This request came from an Occupational Therapist and, despite difficulties with access to the property, we managed to install a ramp. Seeing the lady getting out of the house, able to interact socially and attending the day centre for the first time in years gave me a real of sense of satisfaction and achievement.