The Apprentice Diary: Entry #17

Uh oh, it’s happened, I’ve had my first major balls-up, and it annoyingly involved concrete too!

It happened like this: I got one of my measurements wrong, well actually the measurement was right, it was just measured from the wrong place. So, part of my slab ended up 240mm too short, damn it.

Lessons were learned

Luckily, it was a fairly simple fix, but it took a new engineer’s drawing and a few days to resolve. I guess in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t too bad, and not too costly for my boss. I’ve taken massive learnings from it, firstly reading the plans a little better/closer than I used to, secondly where concrete is concerned, always get a workmate to take a fresh look at your measurements. I’ve also had to take some flak from the boys, but I know they have all been there too, so it’s just part of the fun.

Although frustrating, and being somewhat disappointed in myself, I’ve been reminded to look at the positives, to look around at all the parts that have gone well, or that I have figured out with minimal help. It’s these tasks that I couldn’t do last year, or even six months ago that I can see that I am still learning and getting better. So I’ve moved on from my balls-up and we’re back on track.

The roll of the dice

In other news, we’ve got a new guy that has started. He’s a qualified builder with 10+ years experience. It’s great to work with another qualified builder, as he has some choice tips and tricks, plus he’s a nice guy too. I’ve even shown him a few tricks to make life simpler. So that’s cool that even I am able to upskill someone with more experience than myself. However, with new workmates, comes the old dilemma of what radio station to listen to. With a variety of requests, we have created the ‘radio dice’. Created out of 6x2”, it has everyone’s name on it, and is rolled first thing, after smoko and then lunch. Whoever’s name turns up, gets to choose the channel for that session.

Learning from others mistakes

As a final note, I’ve been working on a new build pretty much since the new year started. However, this week I’ve been helping out on a reclad project. It’s a stark reminder of how the building trade can get it badly wrong at times.

This one is only 25 years old but is in bad shape. There are rotten balustrades around the deck, boundary joists, plenty of studs and bottom plates under windows etc. Although it looks bad, I take it as a positive that the owners are willing to do something about it, and have all the wet timber taken out, replaced, and put back together to create a safe house once again.

As always, till next time, stay safe.

by Stu Foster

Stu's knowledge nugget
Trying to nudge or brace heavy objects into place (joists, framing, steel beams etc)?
As well as smashing it with a sledgehammer, you can try pulling it by cranking it with a heavy duty strop.