InSite | InSite 2023: Meet the Speaker - Natalia Thomas-Alvarez

Meet the Speaker



Premier Guarantee will once again host expert speakers to discuss the key issues facing the construction industry this year, tickets for which you can get here.

Attendees at InSite: Building Safety and Standards will hear speakers debate and discuss the Building Safety Act, the 2025 Future Homes Standard as well as the industry codes of practice.


In this interview, we speak to Technical Competency Manager at Premier Guarantee Natalia Thomas-Alvarez who tells us about her experiences and plans for InSite.

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There is so much change going on in the industry at the moment, coming to conference such as InSite is vital as you’ll get to hear about so many topical issues.

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Can you tell us about a bit about where it all started for you in the industry?


I began my career in the construction industry as an Oak Framer, which I loved! I knew I loved construction then but was keen to learn more about the process from start to finish. I then worked as a trainee building control surveyor for my local authority. I absolutely loved going out and about on building sites, talking to people and learning! I was lucky enough to progress through the department, until I was department manager.


I enjoyed managing the team. I had 13 surveyors. From the outset of the Hackitt review I ensured all the staff gained professional membership, and provided an array of learning and CPD for clients.


I then moved to Socotec building control, working on some of their major projects, including HRBs new schools, offices etc. Learning is something I’m passionate about. I’ve done a masters, a graduate diploma, degree and have published a research article in the Journal for Automation for Construction.


How about the road to where you are today. Are you able to tell us about your experience – biggest challenges or proudest moments?


Myself and my colleague Matt Shum recently went on an around-the-country tour where we were able to meet face to face with over 120 of our surveyors delivering a session on why we need to improve competency and how we do this.


We presented a comprehensive breakdown of building control law and legislation which we believe to be the fundamental foundation to understanding the building regulations and why we do what we do. Although it was a challenge logistically I feel so proud that we were able to give our teams this great initial introduction into our new competency regime.



What is it about your job that keeps you going, whether it is the challenges, inspirations or the people around you?


My role as technical competency manager is extremely challenging, as I need to try and navigate through the new legislation and requirements imposed by the BSR to ensure all our surveyors can demonstrate their competency, whilst awaiting information and guidance on how this is to be achieved.


Although it is a challenge my mind is 100% focused on the fundamental need that the industry as a whole needs to embrace competency and create a new culture of learning, development and knowledge sharing. That for me is the main objective and what inspires me the most.


Tell us a bit about your presentation topic for the InSite event in September. What can attendees look forward to?


Competency is a hot topic in the industry and is relevant to anyone designing or constructing any building to which the building regulations apply. Building inspectors are the first to be going through a process of registration for competence; but, new duties for designers and contractors will require demonstration of competence shortly. It is therefore important that everyone who is involved in this process starts to consider any gaps which may need to be addressed in preparation.


Having specialised in competency, I want to talk to the delegates about why it’s so topical, what the future may look like, what lessons we are learning from going through the process and how companies can begin to prepare for the requirements.


I can’t promise an inspirational TED Talk but I hope to give an honest update on what competency entails and how we can embrace this with an open mindset and positivity.


What advice would you have for those considering attending our InSite event, bearing in mind the landscape of our industry at the moment and the need for obtaining knowledge and sharing ideas?


There is so much change going on in the industry at the moment, coming to conference such as InSite is vital as you’ll get to hear about so many topical issues. It is a great way to stay on track with the changes that have come and are coming. I’m really excited to be part of such a great event and look forwards to meeting everyone.

See the full agenda for InSite


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Every care was taken to ensure the information in this article was correct at the time of publication (August 2023). Guidance provided does not replace the reader’s professional judgement and any construction project should comply with the relevant Building Regulations or applicable technical standards. For the most up to date Premier Guarantee technical guidance please refer to your Risk Management Surveyor and the latest version of the Premier Guarantee Technical Manual.
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