Year 10 Open Doors Trip to Thakeham Construction & Development Site

14th May 2024



Through the East Sussex Careers Hub we try to attend Open Doors Trips at least once a term.  This term we arranged to visit the Thakeham Construction site in Newick.  

We were greeted by Sarah & Sam, two of Thakeham's Social Value Managers, (it is their responsibility to liaise with the local community in a variety of ways, around sustainability of the construction site, working with local communities to help them understand what Thakeham give back during each of their builds and includes working with local schools to talk about careers in the construction industry) and Danny, the Newick Site Manager.  Sarah and Sam have both had careers outside of the construction industry before working for Thakeham and bring with them many transferable skills.

Danny is responsible for everyone on the site and their safety, he is the project manager of the site.  Part of his role is to ensure the houses are completed within the agree timeframe, project managing the entire site which includes, liaising with contractors, ensuring materials are available when needed, dealing with challenges & changes to the project timeline due to unforseen circumstances, such as heavy rain that can cause the build to have to stop temporarily.  The role of site manager means that you need to be flexible and good at problem solving.  Dan has responsibility for 100 staff members on the Newick site.  He was a carpenter for many years before transferring into the management side of the construction industry.

There will be 39 homes built at Berry Croft, it is now a live site, meaning some of the homes are occupied.  

Upon arrival the group were issued with hard hats and high vis jackets, we were introduced to the team and they provided us with lots of information about the site and what happens there on a day to day basis.

We were taken to see one of the houses that has been partly constructed with a timber frame.  The group learnt that there are two ways to build a house, from the ground up with bricks, or as this site is doing using a timber frame, which is built from ground to top, then the roof is added, the timber frame needs to be very strong as this bares the weight of the roof frame and then the added weight of the tiles etc.  The bricks are then added to complete the look of the house and to waterproof it, but they do not actually weight bare in a timber framed house.  We learnt that it only takes 4 days to build two houses and get them to this stage where they are almost ready for the bricks to be added and only 21 weeks for a development site to go from being a bare field to having timber framed properties on them!

The team advised that the homes on this site, and other Thakeham sites are nearly all carbon zero - and by the time any of our students join the industry all homes built by Thakeham will be carbon zero.  

We moved then to inside one of the homes that were being plastered, wired and plumbed inside.  Dan and Sarah spoke to the students about the variety of different job roles there are in the construction industry.  They gave some great examples of the different opportunities and the salaries and working hours that students could expect.

One of our students asked if the site was a field before the development was started, they were told that it used to be a fruit farm, which is why it is called 'Berry Croft'. Sarah explained that for all sites they aquire and build on, there has to be biodiversity net gain, they have to leave the site with 10% more species on it than there was when they arrived.  Sarah went on to explain that they build access points through fences for hedgehogs to access gardens and there are bat boxes around the site to encourage bats to live there.  We later learnt about the drainage system and the pond that is on site, which collects rain water that is then pumped back into the River Ouse. 

We learnt so much on this visit, some of the main facts include:

  • How long will it take to landscape a garden on the site - 3 days to lay the patio, turf and fit the fences - this is always done last before the owners move in. They can then move into a home with a beautiful garden and someone onsite isn't responsible for watering 39 gardens!

  • There are many routes into the construction industry - apprenticeships, T-levels followed by an apprenticeship, A levels followed by a degree level apprenticeship, or graduates with a degree in engineering, design etc.  

  • A trainee Quantity Surveyor could earn up to £25k in their first year

  • Many of the contractors are self employed - this can work well, but you need to remember to save money for your tax bill, you will be responsible for your own insurance etc

  • Assistant Site Manager could earn circa £60K

  • Site Manager could earn circa £80K or more

  • A Project Director circa £100K

  • A Bricklayer might earn around £250/£270 per day - this role can be affected alot by the weather - so at times a bricklayer might find themselves not required onsite due to the weather which can result in a loss of earnings - other trades are not affected by the weather and will work on inside jobs during very wet or cold conditions.

Before we left the site we were lucky enough to have a chance to look inside on of the show homes - the group very much enjoyed this part of the trip, being allowed to explore the house and to be shown how the finished house looked.  They met Claire who is the Sales Manager and responsible for managing the sales of the properties, liaising with both customers and the construction teams to ensure that homes are ready on-time.  Claire explained that often there are delays, due to weather, for example and it's her responsibility to manage this with clients to ensure that the housing chain doesn't not collapse and clients are kept as informed as possible.  She also had a really nice desk in a beautifully decorated front room, a lovely perk of her job!

All in all, it was a very informative trip, the group were animated, engaged and filled with conversations about the construction industry on the minibus back to school. Thank you Year 10, another great example of Chailey School.

We hope to offer more trips like this in the future to help our students to explore what options are open to them and to broaden their minds about courses and careers that they might be interested in.

Please remember that all students have a login to Unifrog (, please use this and the Careers & Work-Related Learning Newsletter as your first place to investigate post-16 options.

Gail Wickens

Careers & Work-Related Learning Coordinator