Rewarding excellence in the house building industry
- Credit: Lucy Taylor
Suffolk building site manager Derek Ratcliffe has been named one of the best in the country in the house-building industry `Oscars’
After a life-time of commitment to the building industry site manager Derek Ratcliffe, 57, from Ipswich, has won a top national industry honour.
Derek was presented with his NHBC Pride in the Job national trophy – often known as the Oscars of the house building industry – at an awards night in London.
He said: “It was a great surprise and a great honour. I had won the regional title in Leicester but there were about 10 finalists in each section. I didn’t expect to win.
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“When the runner-up was announced I thought that was it. “And when they said my name I thought I was hearing things. I was shaking.”
He received the award from the host, comedian John Bishop, but doesn’t remember if he said anything funny to him.
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“I think I was in shock.”
His wife, April, and colleagues from his employer Landex Living, were there to see him receive his trophy.
Derek took the UK title in the Small Builder category for Park Gate in Ipswich. This luxury development of six contemporary homes, facing Christchurch Park, is nearing completion. He is a veteran of the industry with a career so far spanning 41 years.
Just five exceptional house building site managers have been recognised with these national titles, for building homes of the highest standard, and beating around 15,000 others to be named as the UK’s Supreme Winners during the NHBC Pride in the Job Awards 2014 gala final.
Derek’s career began when he trained as a carpenter, originally joining Sadlers in Ipswich in 1973 after leaving Copleston School.
“It was a four year apprenticeship,” he said. “I worked out on site from the start. I did joinery at Ipswich College, too.”
He has worked for a number of local builders over the years, Sadlers, then Cubitts and was then with Featherstone for 22 years.
“I started with Landex about four years ago. The first new homes site I managed was in east Ipswich, just two houses.
“Since then there was the Valley Road site (four homes), and now six here at Park Gate. Now we have a new site, for 21 homes at Boxford, which we have started. We are still in the early days there.
“I love what I am doing. I love being out on site. I couldn’t work in an office. I love to be out, all weathers.”
Derek is a real perfectionist. He said: “I like to see things done properly. It worrries me if they are not. You get a real sense of achievement when you see it looking really nice, and you are happy with the completed house.”
He hasn’t forgotten his early days in the industry.
“I am still a carpenter; I always will be. I have my own tool kit, some I have had since I was an apprentice. “The other lads pull my leg about it.
“They probably came from Martin & Newby in Ipswich. I still like to roll my sleeves up and do a bit.”
He has built an extension to their home and more recently has constructed a pigeon loft in the garden. This ‘des res’ has electricity connected.
“I am getting back into racing pigeons,” he said. “I used to do it as a teenager. Then I played football for 22 years for Murray Rangers.
“Now I don’t play football I am getting back into pigeons. You have got to have a hobby. I have four pairs breeding at the moment.
“There is always some project to be done at home, too. This year I have a bathroom to replace.”
The awards are run by the NHBC (National House-Building Council), the UK’s leading warranty provider and standards setter for new-build homes.
They are dedicated to recognising site managers who oversee housing projects from start to finish across the country.
They have the greatest impact on driving up quality standards on site for the ultimate benefit of homeowners.
The winners of the competition’s five builder categories are the best site managers in the UK working on projects registered for warranty with NHBC, which covers around 80% of the new home insurance market.
Mike Quinton, NHBC chief executive said:“NHBC exists to drive up standards in new-build housing, and the Pride in the Job Awards have been an integral part of that mission for nearly 35 years.
“Site managers play a central part in the success of any project, but the benchmark for success rises each year. Our champions beat an incredible number of others to win the title, and can justifiably claim to be among the best in the business.”
In a relatively short time, Landex Living has been extremely successful in the Pride in the Job competition with other awards going to Tony Burrows and Stephen George. The company is based at Holywells Road, Ipswich.