Will Barnard shares insights into his journey towards becoming a RICS-qualified Chartered Surveyor and why he chose the real-world experience over a traditional university route.
Hello Will, great to have you here in the interview chair! Can you walk us through the path that led you to become a Quantity Surveyor and ultimately to our conversation today?
Like many young adults, I finished school and came out unsure of what I wanted to do. At that time, a big influence came from family members who were working within the construction industry. My journey started with an opportunity at RG Carter, where I joined as a trainee, dipping my toe in various departments; construction, surveying, estimating. It was during one of these rotations that I came across surveying. I recognised the significant value it could add to construction projects and eventually pursued a RICS accredited degree in Quantity Surveying.
I continued the final year of my degree at Hopkins Homes, Denbury Homes’ former sister company, and completed it in 2021. Since then, I’ve continued my educational journey by undertaking an MBA Masters in Construction and Real Estate at Denbury Homes, a personal commitment supported by the team.
Wow, that’s a commitment! How do you manage to balance your full-time work with the demands of a master’s degree?
It’s a lot of hard work, but I enjoy it which keeps me motivated. The finish line is in sight, too. I’m set to complete it in February.
Denbury Homes plays a huge role in supporting me. We can work flexibly, and the team is understanding which makes it easier to juggle both work and studies. What’s great is that my master’s program and my role at Denbury go hand in hand – they complement each other well.
The team is also getting behind my journey to become a RICS-qualified Chartered Surveyor. They’ve been instrumental in helping me build my professional portfolio by encouraging a wide range of experiences, not limited to surveying alone, but also by involving me in different areas like land, property transactions and sales. This will be invaluable in helping me to meet the criteria to achieve Chartered Surveyor status.
What have you most liked about learning in this environment, rather than at university?
Combining my academic pursuits with working in the real world allows me to enjoy the best of both worlds. I’ve been able to gain hands-on experience while simultaneously securing a degree and professional qualification in surveying, setting me on a solid path to embark on the master’s and focus on the leadership and management aspects of the business.
My time at Denbury Homes so far has been incredibly beneficial because it offers a level of autonomy that I might not have found in other companies. The Denbury team gives me great opportunities to take on more responsibility, which not only makes me feel trusted but contributes to my personal and professional growth. This kind of autonomy and responsibility might not have been possible if I had chosen the traditional university route. The real experiences I’ve had at Denbury, where everyone mucks in and collaborates across different departments, make for a fantastic and supportive workplace culture.
That sounds extremely rewarding! Can you tell us more about the culture at Denbury Homes and the collaborative dynamics among the team?
Whether it’s the leadership or the close-knit nature of the team, there’s a strong sense of unity and cohesion. In our open-plan office, collaboration comes naturally, with surveying, buying, sales, planning, design, technical and land teams working side-by-side in the same space. This setup encourages easy idea sharing, where everyone bounces off one another and productivity is high.
Our shared dedication to each project creates a hive mind, where our collective mindset thrives. It truly is great to have everybody together. Questions are swiftly answered, everyone knows each other, and the sense of teamwork is palpable.
Hive mind – I like it! What does a typical day look like as a Quantity Surveyor?
One of the things I love most about my job is that it changes every day. It goes back to what I said earlier – Denbury Homes values autonomy, allowing me to decide where I need to be. Some days, you’ll find me in the office, while on others, I’ll be out on site. I can also balance this with working from home. There isn’t a fixed routine; it’s all about the task at hand.
A significant part of my role involves managing subcontractors. This includes tendering subcontract packages to various trades like bricklayers, carpenters, and plasterers, reviewing quotes and placing orders, then reviewing completed work and invoices, making sure that each is paid promptly. We use smaller suppliers and local trades where we can, so I contribute to strengthening these relationships with manufacturers and merchants in the area.
I’m also responsible for generating cost reports for construction sites, ensuring that they align with the initial budget and considering the project as a whole. It’s my job to consolidate all these costs and liaise with different teams to incorporate their expenses into our comprehensive report. Forecasting in this way serves a vital role in ensuring that construction can continue.
We need to stay attuned to market trends and inflation, which is an essential part of our approach and my role as a Quantity Surveyor. The construction market is always changing. It keeps us on our toes, and we are equipped to adapt.
And with construction, anything can happen. It can be unpredictable, whether due to market fluctuations, technical challenges or onsite issues. You can find yourself involved in a wide range of scenarios, but with the strength of the team, that is how we face these challenges. We’re all in it together!
That lovely statement leads me to my last question: What does the Denbury Difference mean to you?
When it comes to the workplace, what sets us apart is that everybody genuinely cares. We are all in it together, not just for financial reward, but for our customers and the communities we shape. We focus on creating beautiful homes of superior quality that blend with their local areas. It’s also the stunning finish and remarkable quality of our homes, a result of the incredible teamwork we have here. When you’re on a Denbury site, you can’t help but notice the little details. It’s in these finer points and exceptionally landscaped elements that you truly know what the Denbury Difference is.