Meet Martin, our Senior Site Manager at Devonshire Homes21 May 2021
Since its launch in 2020, Longston Cross has been inundated with house hunters looking to plant roots in the bustling market town of Bovey Tracey. Surrounded by the wilds of Dartmoor National Park, homes at Longston Cross are selling fast, particularly now that a home in the countryside appeals to those looking to escape the big cities. Martin White is the Senior Site Manager behind the site who, with his resilient team, has tackled the challenges which come with managing a new build homes site during a national lockdown. We caught up with Martin to see how he is getting on and what the future holds for Longston Cross:
Hi Martin! Tell us about your background in the housing and construction industry…
I started my career in 2003 at another independent Devon construction firm when I saw the opportunity to work on a commercial development. My first job was working on the construction of the Met Office in Exeter and I started running my own sites within three years of joining the company. I left that company to join Devonshire Homes in 2014 and here I am, seven years later!
What stands out for you about Devonshire Homes as an employer?
I’ve never wanted to work for a big PLC as you’re seen as just a number. Working for a smaller, independent firm, you really feel like your work and the effort you put into your job makes a big impact. I also like how Devonshire Homes is local to me as I am a Devon boy born and bred. The company’s values are something that I am truly passionate about. At Devonshire Homes, we build high-quality homes and I believe that sets us apart from many other new home builders. The product is something I truly believe in. I want to build homes that I would live in and I would purchase myself. If I wouldn’t like to live in it or own it, then why would I expect anyone else to? That’s been my motto throughout my entire career.
Describe your typical day and your main responsibilities as a Senior Site Manager at Devonshire Homes…
Every day is different. My main responsibility is ensuring that the whole site is running smoothly and that everyone who is working on site is happy. I can be dealing with up to 60 people a day at Longston Cross so there’s a lot to think about from sales to sub-contractors, head office queries to customer care. I could be doing anything from dealing with technical items right through to unblocking the toilets! There’s always new teams and professionals to meet and communicate with as well throughout the build process. At Longston Cross, we’re currently liaising with Archaeologists, Ecologists, the Environment Agency, Structural Engineers, the Public Rights of Way Officers, the Tree Officers, so ensuring that everyone works in unison can be challenging. In between it all, we strive to deliver the high-quality homes that we are known for. That is the order of the day. Managing every aspect of a construction site whilst producing quality, traditional homes.
What do you enjoy about being a Senior Site Manager at Devonshire Homes?
I enjoy the buzz I get when I see the progression of a site and delivering high-quality homes that the customer loves. There is nothing like the satisfaction you feel when a site is complete and the legacy of Devonshire Homes lives on, with the site really complimenting the surrounding area. At Devonshire Homes, many of our properties are bought or rented out by local people which I always like to see. I think it’s a real testament to what we do. It’s nice to see newcomers to the area as well, but I think it’s equally rewarding to see local people actually embrace what we’re doing rather than having a developer vs. locals’ situation. I don’t like that as I take great pride in the homes we create so I do get personally offended if people think that we are just here to flatten the countryside. I’ve got kids who are now coming up to an age where they want to purchase homes and I would hate to think that they would buy a property that was just a timber box which nobody has put any care into. People work hard to buy their homes. It’s one of the biggest purchases they’ll probably ever make so it is important that as the house builder, we get it right all the way through from the ground up.
Is there a site that you have particularly loved working on during your time at Devonshire Homes?
Rivel’s Green in Cullompton is my baby. We launched that site in 2016 and it contained 100 homes and took two years to reach completion. All the homes had sold before I left the site, so it was very successful. We even won some national awards! We scooped the Best Social or Affordable New Housing Development award at the LABC Building Excellence Awards 2018 in London. I was also Highly Commended in the Site Manager Award which was a great personal achievement. Winning awards is a testament to everybody who works on a site. I try and get a good team together for each site I manage with individuals who really buy into what I’m trying to achieve so it’s nice to get recognition on their behalf as well. Considering Rivel’s Green was only my second house build site, those awards were quite an achievement and good for Devonshire Homes’ reputation as a reliable, high-quality housebuilder as well. We’re aiming for the same level of success with Longston Cross as this too is quite a big site at 156 units.
How has the pandemic effected Devonshire Homes and how well has your team coped with the turbulent year?
It’s certainly been challenging as I’m sure every industry has experienced. We’re only a small team but I missed having the team around and the face-to-face interaction. Our monthly project meetings on site are so important and it’s essential that we get back to that. During the height of the pandemic, the team have had to rely on my photographs and programme updates but it’s not the same as seeing it in person. For everybody involved in the build industry, it’s probably added 25% to the workload. Whilst site visits from the relevant team members are now taking place again, the majority of large meetings are still held online and we’re still relying on videos and photographs, which again has added a considerable amount of work to us on site. I won’t be sorry when it’s over like most people I’m sure! I work closely with the on-site sales team and they continue to experience demand for our houses which is great. You could argue that living in the countryside in a region such as Devon is appealing and all it has done is accelerate that demand.