Building Services Engineer

Councils have a considerable investment in property. They own the premises in which their administrative offices are based - the town hall or civic centre , libraries, museums, leisure and entertainment centres, theatres, schools, social houses, flats and sheltered accommodation.

Someone has to make sure all this property is safe and in good working order as it is being built and as it is maintained. Building services staff are responsible for its maintenance. The Building services engineer is a specialist member of that team with mechanical and electrical engineering training. The work is similar to that of the Heating Engineer or Technical Assistant - Mechanical.

Work Environment
Part of the day is spent in the office but a great deal of time is spent on various locations where council building or renovation work is being carried out. Some evening and weekend work is required to keep up with the progress of construction work or responding to emergencies when fire or burglar alarms have been activated. Protective clothing is provided and the engineer will carry a selection of tools with him.

Daily Activities
In general, building services engineers participate in housing projects and manage the services element - including drawing up specifications and taking part in site surveys. They are responsible forsupervising contracts involving the installation of new heating systems, electrical wiring and electrical testing of the council's housing stock. They also have oversight of existing systems in built premises.

Their day may start in the office where they will prepare themselves by studying housing plans, make calculations about appliances and equipment needed and costs and attend meetings with others involved in a building project. They prepare written specifications saying how the electrical and plumbing work should be done, what materials should be used and how long the work should take to complete. They may then go to a site fora meeting with managers and inspect work being done. On an on-going basis, they will monitor the progress of the installations, identify defects and, finally, certify that the specifications have been met. This will include an assessment of how the budget has been complied with. It is this signing-off that gives the local authority the go ahead to pay everyone who has been contracted to the project, either in direct building work or in supplying materials and equipment.

But everything does not always go to plan. There may be an emergency call from a council building where a fire has started from an electrical fault or the heating or lighting has failed throughout the building. They must respond promptly. This could entail taking staff from an existing installation to put matters right.

Building services engineers must keep sound written records of all incidents and the general progress of all work that falls within their responsibility. Managers must be informed if there are any serious problems affecting other areas of the building project and forewarned if it becomes apparent that the electrical and mechanical work is going to be seriously over budget.

Skills & Interests
To do the job properly you need:

  • drawing board skills;
  • to be able to compile specifications;
  • to be a team player;
  • interpersonal skills;
  • numeracy skills - to design services;
  • technical competence;
  • computer literacy including CAD;
  • financial awareness.

Entry Requirements
You must be qualified to HNC level but a degree is often required with at least five years relevant experience in a similar role.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
You would have access to further training and with suitable qualification could apply formore senior building engineering posts or others in drainage, heating or maintenance engineering. There are prospects of promotion to managerial posts in building control, operations and technical and professional services as well.

Further Information & Services
Asset Skills 
Association of Building Engineers 
Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers 
Modern Building Services Online 
Summit Skills

Careers Wales have produced Spotlight articles on careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths): and careers in construction:  

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales ( or in your local library, careers officeor school careers library. 

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