The Apprentice Diary: Entry #9

Respect is something that has to be earned, and gaining the respect of your colleagues and especially the older more experienced builders means a lot to me

Gaining respect

Now no one really enjoys the crappy jobs, and some go out of their way to make themselves busy doing another task. I on the other hand think it’s an opportunity to put my hand up and say, “I’ll do it”, because if I don’t do it, someone else has to. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t put my hand up for all of them, but it shows a willingness to get stuck in, and not shy away from dirty or hard yakka jobs. This builds respect from your peers, but just make sure you don’t turn into the go to guy for all of the tough jobs.

Being level-headed helps

Talking of the older/more experienced builders, it’s quite interesting to see how they take on a task compared to the younger qualified builders. One example is eyeballing a line versus using a string line to check if something is straight. We recently stood a whole house of frames, when it came to bracing and straightening the top plates, the younger builder wanted to use a string line, whilst the older was adamant eyeballing was just as accurate. I ended up opting for eyeballing, and I was surprised that it was very accurate, and not to mention very fast. I mention this as an example of there being different ways to achieve the same outcome, some faster than others. Finding that combo of accurate and fast is a winning combo in our trade.

Taking big steps

Standing frames for the first time was great, it was something new for me, but also within only a day there was a structure to the house that is a clearly visible big step in the build. I soon learned that clients like it too, and makes ‘their build’ more real.

Adding the roof trusses a few days later was the icing on the cake. Although there is a lot more work left before it’s a finished project, you get a quick appreciation of what you are working towards. As the build moves forwards, so does the site. One thing I’ve learnt is taking the time to adapt with the site, an example is instead of using a stepladder as internal stairs for the next couple of months, after 30 mins work, a basic ramp can be built, both faster and safer to use.

Finally a quick update on my apprenticeship, I’m now 15 months in, and have 23% signed off. That’s a combined total for both theory and practical. Although I’m less than a quarter of the way through, I’ve been assured things pick up pace towards the end with more being signed off in a short period of time. Fingers crossed that is true.

Till next time, keep up the bookwork, and practicing what you have learnt.

by Stu Foster


Best job: Standing frames
Worst job: Screwing down flooring
Favourite power tool: Trusty skilly
Favourite hand tool: Irwin Quick Grips
Apprentice tip: Get a copy of the plans to read