We will soon be moving from our emergency shelter programme to repair and reconstruction of family homes. How can we identify the specialist staff we will need to design and monitor the programme?
Thank you for your question. You will need to identify both the specialist skills and the level of seniority you need, working closely with your HR team. In addition, you will need to find staff with humanitarian values, and preferably humanitarian experience, who can fit with the culture of an international development organisation and understand the aims of the programme beyond simply the delivery of the completed construction.
Repair and reconstruction of houses usually requires the following responsibilities:
• Leading the participatory design process with the community and other stakeholders.
• Design of the resilience approach, including the structural approach.
• Design of structural and non-structural elements of the houses.
• Specification, costing, sourcing and monitoring of materials.
• General project management, including budget management, payments and handover.
• Monitoring labor quality and progress, including trouble shooting.
In general the skills and experience above can be provided by architects, structural engineers and surveyors, but these three professions focus on different aspects of construction so you will need a team. Architects specialise in design and may have skills in liaising with stakeholders, but they may not have engineering skills. Structural engineers specialise in structural design but there are different specialisms so make sure you find those who have specifically worked on houses. Surveyors have a good knowledge of materials and how to cost building elements. In terms of seniority, junior professionals may have good general skills, but for more specialist or complex issues, you may need more experienced staff with more specialist qualifications. For organizing and monitoring works on site, hands on experience is key. Often non-professionals such as construction managers have more experience and training in this area, so they may equally fit the bill.
Be aware that job titles in the construction industry vary from country to country, for example, in some countries architects are indistinguishable from structural engineers. You can seek advice on this from the relevant local or regional professional institution. Also be aware that the construction industry often pays higher salaries than other sectors, which may be something HR will need to consider.
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