Claire B

Training recommendations to become a builder.

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10 hours ago, Claire B said:

Thanks. I've lost money on my own self build but I built it to live in not to profit from so everything was high spec. It sounds like developers make more money than builders then? The builder that built my home turned up  in a new Range Rover as soon as the project was signed off! 

my sons girlfriend works for a company that finds land for developers so that could come in handy. I don't like the idea of throwing up cheap units for personal profit and would like to gently steer him towards the emerging eco market.

 

That points out a big risk for you.

 

You can't develop for a different version of yourself; that is really vanity. Not least because no one out there is the same as you and the extra money that you spend on your ideas of Eco may just get reversed.

 

The trick as a developer is to find your market and work to it. There are eco-things you can do, but there is a hell of a lot of eco-snake-oil out there. At the moment one of the worst is the temptation to put big eco-heating in a place where some money spent on eh fabric would mean smaller eco-heating could be use - just because that is what the Govt will subsidise.

 

To me an example is the old Code for Sustainable Homes, which gave points for an Eco-Washer and other appliances. Which means that the developer had to tell the customers what sort of lifestyle they were to have, brands etc. Which to me was just a recipe for lots of washer to be disposed of, especially if the new buyer already had a favourite one.

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As Ronan1 says above, I would urge you to buy a a small dilapidated fixer upper and do it up and sell it on.

 

The risk to your investment is relatively low, and the learning curve for your son will be huge. He will learn the process of building- the order that things need to be done. He will learn to organise trades to fit in with this schedule, and learn how to adapt when he is let down by some of those trades in the process. He will learn about budgeting, and shopping around securing the best deals fo materials  as well as learning when cost cutting is a good idea, and when it isnt. Knowing how to speak to building control and get the best out of that relationship is also invaluable.

If he is interested in the practical/creative side of things then by watching trades at work he may find he wants to learn more and get hands on- or know where to leave well alone. 

When he finishes the  job, and sells the property on and covers his costs or makes a profit, then he will know if development on a grander scale is right for him. He will have learnt much more than any formal courses in my opinion, and at a much quicker pace.

All of this I did myself at 26, having realised my very different chosen career  was not for me.  That was nearly 30 years ago and I have not looked back (much!) My projects are slower than they probably should be if I was just chasing the money, but I like doing a lot of the work myself as I have picked up a lot of practical skills and really enjoy the creative process.

I have made a little money, enjoyed the projects, am  apparently the envy of friends trapped in well paid London careers that they dont enjoy,  and have lived in some lovely houses ! 

Good luck .

Simon.

 

 

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10 hours ago, SteamyTea said:

How about getting a job with Building Control.  Would learn all the ins and outs, then it would become easy to build/convert your own places.

or the Planning Office, if he really wants to be hated.

More good ideas to add to the list, thank you. 

 

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14 hours ago, Claire B said:

Got to be honest he's never going to do scaffolding! 

He's excellent at maths so yes perhaps a RICS quantity surveying course if he could do that remotely whilst working a day job too and getting some experience. 
 

I did mine as a correspondence course with the College of Estate Management at Reading University - only had to rock up there 4 times a year plus a week for the exams (don't know if this is still going - did mine in the 80's). I found the RICS a pretty useless organisation and got fed up of sending them £700 a year for nothing in return (a rubbish monthly magazine that didn't leave it's plastic envelope before it hit the bin) and told them to stuff it 5 years ago. It has relevance for me while working for others but no relevance to me today.

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15 hours ago, Claire B said:

The builder that built my home turned up  in a new Range Rover as soon as the project was signed off! 

 

You can lease a brand new, top spec RR for a few hundred quid a month, means nothing. 

 

The guy who did our landscaping is an interesting 'case study. 

 

Not much education, left school to work for his dad who is a landscaper. Got fed up working with dad so went to work at a few local firms to hone his trade and then set out himself, specialising in block paving. After 3-4 years has moved into leasing small site diggers with the landscaping work on the side.

 

Works every hour, all weather. Extremely honest and sensible with his money but not afraid to stand up to clients or other trades who muck him about. Built up an excellent word of mouth reputation and always has enough bookings to last him a year. 

 

To survive in his game you need to be extremely streetwise, hardworking and take no nonsense as otherwise you'll be devoured by clients and suppliers alike.

 

He has seen plenty of mates envy his success and try to replicate it without the same work ethic or skill (kit is always available form other bankrupt trades or available on cheap finance, especially vans etc). They never last.

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All fur coat and no knickers I believe it the phrase or all show and no go. These guys always fall by the way side eventually unlike the majority of the hard grafters

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8 minutes ago, Ronan 1 said:

All fur coat and no knickers

😍😍😍🙄🙄🙄🙄

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Further thoughts. On reflection I thought I was being a bit harsh, so I am glad it was taken positively.

 

This is somebody's future, so worth some more of my thought.

 

It is very positive that he chooses , at this young age, to change direction. 

However it is important to know more about the opportunities in construction, or there could be another false start.

That is why I suggested some time with a local contractor. one of the ones whose signs you see around your area, perhaps doing £5M to £20M turnover.

 

After years of despair at the lack of skill, and especially numerical skills (not necessarily maths), as an employer I would have welcomed an approach from such a person, and invited them for a chat.

 

It would be foolhardy on both parts to enter an employment contract but I would have suggested 2 weeks to a month shadowing staff and doing a bit of work for these staff.

This would be a risk and a nuisance, so I would say offer to do it without pay.

At the end of that you will have seen sites, in natural states, met many of  the professions and roles, and have some idea of comfort zone and employment opportunities.

There could be an immediate offer if the skills are obvious, and that would be  a proper job with proper pay.

After perhaps a year, the company should encourage formal training.

 

One more thing, on roles. I often gave talks or had stands at County careers education events, for teenagers mostly.

They seldom knew what jobs there were in construction as management or professional. None wanted to do a trade.

All they 'knew' about was being an Architect or a bricky/plumber.

They had heard of Structural Engineering, but not Civil, but were told it was too difficult. Didn't know anything about construction management or financial roles.

That was not their fault but the schools'.

If the school career advisors know next to nothing about the industry, then we can't expect your son to either.

There are lots of opportunities to change tack, once employed. 

 

Practical maths classes were also a shock. I helped in any schools we worked in. Basic things like how much concrete for that floor in that new building.

Very little understanding of numbers. Out came the calculators and answers varied in being utterly wrong, but especially decimal point errors.

Do I order 3m3 or 33m3 or 330m3?  Half a lorry, 5 or 50 lorries...  most had no idea.

Teachers' (or system ) fault again. 

I am not convinced that this can be taught later in life, having met accounts clerks who can't do the VAT, and surveyors who can't measure quantities.

 

Why do I say this? skills in one job are not necessarily transferrable, but numeracy is a huge asset. But worryingly the maths teachers did not seem much concerned, so maybe they don't 'get' real life either.

 

 

The main numerical skill is a fundamental understanding of quantities, not just doing sums. 

How much concrete goes in that hole? You need to have a feel for it before doing the calc.

As all the self-builders here know, an error of a few percent , throughout the job, is the difference between budget and a loss.

That sense of values then applies to everything a surveyor, buyer , estimator or manager does.

At the top end of a big company, the estimating director, after intense analysis, then decides to add or deduct a few percent, as a gut feeling. That can be millions on a whim...fancy that?

 

I am stressing number skills and hope I have that correct, but ability to write letters and reports is up there too.

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"number skills" is often a problem with language (multiply, times, product, by) and how we mix units, and terminology, between industries (metre, decimetre, centimetre, millimetre).

Why we don't stick to SI units I do not know, even on here people will talk about square feet, feet square, Kw/H, no wonder people get confused.

Then we have the physics terminology, weight, mass, volume, density, temperature, energy, power, charge etc. Each of them can, correctly, be expressed in different units.

 

 

 

 

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20 hours ago, saveasteading said:

Further thoughts. On reflection I thought I was being a bit harsh, so I am glad it was taken positively.

 

This is somebody's future, so worth some more of my thought.

 

It is very positive that he chooses , at this young age, to change direction. 

However it is important to know more about the opportunities in construction, or there could be another false start.

That is why I suggested some time with a local contractor. one of the ones whose signs you see around your area, perhaps doing £5M to £20M turnover.

 

After years of despair at the lack of skill, and especially numerical skills (not necessarily maths), as an employer I would have welcomed an approach from such a person, and invited them for a chat.

 

It would be foolhardy on both parts to enter an employment contract but I would have suggested 2 weeks to a month shadowing staff and doing a bit of work for these staff.

This would be a risk and a nuisance, so I would say offer to do it without pay.

At the end of that you will have seen sites, in natural states, met many of  the professions and roles, and have some idea of comfort zone and employment opportunities.

There could be an immediate offer if the skills are obvious, and that would be  a proper job with proper pay.

After perhaps a year, the company should encourage formal training.

 

One more thing, on roles. I often gave talks or had stands at County careers education events, for teenagers mostly.

They seldom knew what jobs there were in construction as management or professional. None wanted to do a trade.

All they 'knew' about was being an Architect or a bricky/plumber.

They had heard of Structural Engineering, but not Civil, but were told it was too difficult. Didn't know anything about construction management or financial roles.

That was not their fault but the schools'.

If the school career advisors know next to nothing about the industry, then we can't expect your son to either.

There are lots of opportunities to change tack, once employed. 

 

Practical maths classes were also a shock. I helped in any schools we worked in. Basic things like how much concrete for that floor in that new building.

Very little understanding of numbers. Out came the calculators and answers varied in being utterly wrong, but especially decimal point errors.

Do I order 3m3 or 33m3 or 330m3?  Half a lorry, 5 or 50 lorries...  most had no idea.

Teachers' (or system ) fault again. 

I am not convinced that this can be taught later in life, having met accounts clerks who can't do the VAT, and surveyors who can't measure quantities.

 

Why do I say this? skills in one job are not necessarily transferrable, but numeracy is a huge asset. But worryingly the maths teachers did not seem much concerned, so maybe they don't 'get' real life either.

 

 

The main numerical skill is a fundamental understanding of quantities, not just doing sums. 

How much concrete goes in that hole? You need to have a feel for it before doing the calc.

As all the self-builders here know, an error of a few percent , throughout the job, is the difference between budget and a loss.

That sense of values then applies to everything a surveyor, buyer , estimator or manager does.

At the top end of a big company, the estimating director, after intense analysis, then decides to add or deduct a few percent, as a gut feeling. That can be millions on a whim...fancy that?

 

I am stressing number skills and hope I have that correct, but ability to write letters and reports is up there too.

Good advice thank you. 

He's a natural with numbers and doesn't realise what a gift this is. 

I'll get him to read this whole thread once he's back from his weekend jaunt. 

 

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54 minutes ago, Claire B said:

Good advice thank you. 

He's a natural with numbers and doesn't realise what a gift this is. 

I'll get him to read this whole thread once he's back from his weekend jaunt. 

 

 

My teenage son is like this - from a very young age he's been able to do quick mental maths and sailed through his GCSE work - rarely would write anything down (much to teacher's frustration) but he has struggled with other subjects that require sustained concentration and we now know he has ADHD for which he is taking meds.

 

While just starting A Levels, he's no clear idea of where to go after that, what to study or what careers to pursue so really interesting to see some of the ideas here.

 

@saveasteading I agree that numeracy is a national issue (I am a senior school governor and track this very closely at our school) but not one you can neatly lay at the feet of teachers, they put incredible effort into just getting kids to the minimum standard and, like english,  it is a barrier to progression unless achieved.

 

Sadly maths, science and engineering are still seen as 'nerdy / geeky / not cool' and many parents themselves are not particularly numerate so struggle to help with learning at home. Girls tend to outperform boys at junior school and then tail off in senior school.

 

It really, really irritates me when celebrities proudly giggle that 'they're no good with maths' but I doubt they'd be so pleased to say that they couldn't read or write.

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On a positive, I have seen people who say they are no good at maths, but can do darts scores in their heads (multiplication and subtraction), or betting odds. There must be potential in some cases.

Teachers do have to deal with the syllabus, and all levels of ability. One said to me that the most important part of my lesson was telling that I use simple maths in my work, all day, usually approximations in my head. They mostly saw maths as an exam, that then was ignored in life.

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44 minutes ago, Bitpipe said:

 

It really, really irritates me when celebrities proudly giggle that 'they're no good with maths' but I doubt they'd be so pleased to say that they couldn't read or write.

This is one of my huge bug bears, the modern bunch of reality "celebrities" that seem to think normalising stupidity is ok or "cool", you see them asking what is the capital of Rome of some such like and giggling how silly they are ..... Makes me want to throw the telly out the window...

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15 minutes ago, Ronan 1 said:

Makes me want to throw the telly out the window...

Do it! I got rid of the TVs 4 years ago and don't miss them one bit. They're just used for mind control and to tell the masses what to think. Life is so much better without them. 

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20 minutes ago, Ronan 1 said:

 Makes me want to throw the telly out the window

 

4 minutes ago, Claire B said:

Do it! I got rid of the TVs 4 years ago and don't miss them one bit

Over 27 years since I got rid of mine.

 

The pictures are better on radio.

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On 12/07/2021 at 11:29, SteamyTea said:

...

Over 27 years since I got rid of mine.

 

Oh yeah? What are you looking at now?

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Make sure he has a grasp of accounting. We have only ever employed one "builder" as we have always either done the work our selves (several renovations) or employed a trade for skills that we did not have. The builder concerned completely and utterly confused me with his accounting methods to the point when I thought I was being fleeced. I would get reams of scribbled bills for the work undertaken less the amount paid. In the end I queried and queried until he gave up and knocked a couple of K off to make me go away! He was a lovely old, time served, country builder but I lost my trust in his honesty so could not recommend him to others. That is fatal for a small builder :(

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