Job spotlight: Jayne Carabott, Orbit Homes

Jayne Carabott became Orbit Homes’ first female assistant site manager this summer. She will be based at the housing provider’s upcoming Felix Park development in Soham.

Describe a typical day in your job.

A cup of tea and welcoming the trades is my typical start to the day. This morning routine is a good way to ensure that everyone’s inducted, and it gives the trades the opportunity to ask questions. Being approachable is key to my role, and I’ve found this approach quickly builds relationships and is a great way to ensure everyone is clear on what’s needed.

After the morning briefing, much of my day is spent walking the site, supporting the team and ensuring health and safety procedures are in place and being followed.

You have a wealth of experience in housebuilding. What are the challenges housing site management poses? 

Much of my role is about forward planning and foreseeing issues. There are many factors that can affect build schedules. The biggest challenge is nature, mainly the weather, which can have big health and safety implications and impact on build progress.

“Trades not turning up when arranged or material shortages are big problems across the industry at the moment, with off-the-shelf items not always available.”

Jayne Carabott, Orbit Homes

I monitor the weather forecast closely to ensure the trades and materials are lined up when doing the work is feasible and safe.

It’s obviously key to ensure we have the skills and materials on site to deliver the work needed at that time. Trades not turning up when arranged or material shortages are big problems across the industry at the moment, with off-the-shelf items not always available.

We can’t help unforeseen circumstances but rearranging trades can take a lot of time and affect the build programme. To try and avoid this, I closely check all material deliveries, keep an eye on the team’s performance and welfare, and monitor the build progress to ensure everything is aligned to deliver the work planned for the next few days. 

What skills/attributes are essential for a site manager in property building?

An understanding of the end result is super important – these are people’s homes.

Having a trade is also a bonus. It enables me to understand some of the problems and challenges subcontractors may face.

Banter is important; having a laugh and joke during breaks keep the morale going. This has been especially important over the past 18 months with the pandemic. I think it’s essential to be able to let off a bit of steam – but it also means the trades will want to come back to work with you on site.

Knowing that you don’t know all the answers and probably never will, it’s really important to be able to ask the trades or contractors questions and for their advice.

Finally, try to enjoy what you do.

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