In our latest instalment we talk to Andy Butler. Andy is Westbury’s Master Builder, and is responsible for making sure that projects get built on time and to specification, and ensuring that the on-site teams run smoothly and efficiently.
What is your job title?
How long have you been working at Westbury?
I’ve been working at Westbury for about eight years now full time. Originally I was working on a contract basis; I met Jonathan about 15 years ago – when Westbury was very small – and he used to ask me to help build some of the projects from time to time.
What does your job involve, and who do you work closely with?
Although my job title might make it seem straightforward, there are actually many different aspects to my job. I liaise very closely with Sally, the Project Manager, in order to make sure that we progress and manage all the projects correctly and that everything goes smoothly. I also work with members in the other departments, such as James (Senior CAD Technician), and Nick (CAD Technician) as well as Jonathan, to make sure that the creative ideas are workable in reality.
In terms of tasks, I do the on-site survey for each project before the workings are done by the teams, and have a pre-site meeting with the clients to go through the drawings of their new extension and make sure they’re happy, before we start their project.
I also set up the site ready for each job, and then manage the entire project, including the site teams, throughout. Finally, I make sure that I visit the client throughout the build until the job is complete – this helps me to ensure that they are happy and that everything is progressing well.
Each day might be different, but on a typical day what might you be doing?
As I travel all over the country, I usually start the day early with the aim of beating the traffic. I’m usually meeting clients and visiting the on-site teams on the projects in progress. If I’m not out and about, I’ll be in the office, meeting with Sally and other team members discussing ongoing projects to make sure they’re going well, or talking about new projects in the pipeline.
What aspects of your job / working at Westbury do you most enjoy?
I am a people person so I enjoy meeting clients, and working from start to finish on their project; it’s really good helping them realise something which they may have dreamed about for a long time.
It’s also so nice to be part of and work with a great team of colleagues on site and in the office and production; it means that I enjoy every day, no matter what I’m doing out and about or in the office.
What aspects of having builders on site do customers struggle with the most / have least thought through before you arrive?
I always have a pre-site meeting with our clients to explain the project and the process of the build, in order to put their minds at ease and answer any questions they may have. This means all our clients can enjoy the build; as they have been advised what to expect, and given a chance to ask about anything which they might be anxious about, they always enjoy having our teams on site.
The thing that clients consider least would be if their new extension involves kitchen works i.e. having a new kitchen as part of the project. This has lots implications on the build and design which many people don’t fully consider. That’s when I help by advising on what is practical whilst making sure that the end result will work for them.
Toilets – do you bring your own and what else are the most common questions asked by customers? How else can customers prepare for you?
We will normally bring a portaloo to sites for our teams to use unless we are requested not to because the client has an external WC they prefer to use. The other thing we get asked about the most by clients is how many vehicles will be on site, as they can be concerned with parking limitations or annoying neighbours. These are the sorts of concerns that we aim to address in the pre-site meeting, and decide on solutions that work for everyone.
What’s your favourite Westbury project and why?
All the projects are so different and unique that it makes it hard to pick one in particular! However if I had to I would choose the swimming pool project we completed in Peterborough. We worked with Gunton Pools, and designed the orangery, which would house the pool, to join on to the clients’ house so that they could enter straight from the kitchen. Seeing the building evolve from the digging of the foundations for the pool and pool house to seeing the complete project was quite something. The extension was 137m2 , housing a 50m2 pool which was painted in salt stone. The floor to ceiling glazing on three sides of the orangery made it feel like you were still outside, and we included dozens of lights into the ceiling around the large roof lantern to make it feel like you were outside at night, with the stars above you. It was amazing when it was finished.
What do you like most about Westbury / what do you think sets Westbury above competitors?
The team at Westbury is great and it’s fantastic to be valued as part of it, and to be a big part of an ever expanding company. Also I am lucky to get to work with such an amazing product; the design and attention to detail in every project means that Westbury glazed extensions speak for themselves. As a company we will always strive to be the best at what we do.
What’s your favourite building / piece of architecture?
I have a lot of favourite buildings, mainly from the Roman and early Egyptian times but there are some amazing modern buildings like the gherkin and the Burj Al Arab hotel (the ‘sail’) in Dubai. It’s impossible to pick just one when there are so many different styles of architecture and design; they can all be appreciated in different ways.