Skilled Trades

Written by LetsBuild

Follow us


Share this story

Lean ebook cover

Now me, these days, I’m a certificated smart-arse, like, what is very important and knows everything about construction! Wink Wink

My background

That isn’t the way it started out for me, though. I come from a ship-building town and all my family were skilled tradesmen in the ship-yard. It was my grand-father who accidentally started me off down this line with his lectures, one of which was:

“When you grow up and have a job that needs doing, find out which is cheapest; to pay a man to do the job or to buy the tools and learn to use them.”

Another was:

“There is no higher calling for a man than to serve his time at a skilled trade.”

Different jobs

Back in the days I got a job as Site Agent in housing which ended when the firm collapsed, courtesy of the recession of the early-90’s! After that I started free-lancing in commercial construction.

Since 1999 I have played at every single profession in construction; Architect, QS, Estimator, Planner, Structural Engineer, PQS – client side and contractor’s side! Sheer humility and embarrassment prevents me even mentioning Interim roles I’ve held in Local Authorities because LA’s are a bug-bear to us builders! Wink Wink again! Eventually I got a reputation and my freelance jobs became the ones I liked best; site-based project turnaround roles.

The commcercial construction project

So, at last, let’s have a look at a commercial construction project! That starts off with a client getting an idea and taking on architects, engineers, etc. to evolve the design and get the necessary approvals. A lot of work involved and it all drags out for 18 months. Everyone is very proud of their efforts, but what do they have at the end of it? Some drawings on a few bits of paper or on software!

From this point on, all that the construction professionals are there for is to supply the sub-contractors and their tradesmen with whatever they need to build it for us!

It is they that build, not us! An Architect might have a “design concept” but isn’t likely to be able to translate that concept into a built structure! All he could do is stand there looking bewildered (Wink Wink Architects)!

So, it is all over to “the lads”! We are only there to provide them with what they need to do the job! That might be additional information, materials, plant, space to work, forethought in programming and making sure there is cooperation between them!

A little tip

A little thing I keep pointing out to professionals, particularly young ones who tend to feel that having a degree makes them experts (and intellectually arrogant! Wink Wink Grads!), is that a mature skilled tradesman knows more about his own speciality than any of us ever will!

Realise that and it is usually dead easy to get a solution to a problem! Just ask the tradesman!

Whatever current perceptions of the dirty fingernail brigade, they aren’t thick! An easy example you can use to check is this; takes us quite a while, with the use of a calculator, to work out how many bricks we need for a wall, doesn’t it? Ask a bricky and he will give you the answer, worked out in his head, in about 5 seconds!