What was your ‘hard to deal with nightmare ‘ project?
Nearly every job has hard elements. I think one of the biggest challenges we faced was building a treehouse in the woods. Sounds pretty simple right, however, the location was so isolated, the nearest road was over a mile away.
This meant that the logistics on-site needed to be perfectly coordinated, everything from clearing the woods to allow for the installation of the essential services (gas, electric, internet, etc) repurposing our digger to transport materials and utilising as many vehicles as possible to drag out the concrete lorry when it got stuck in the mud
What about difficult customers, how do you deal with them?
It’s funny, it’s never normally the customer that causes us issues, its normally the neighbours. They complain about everything from building design, height of construction, delivery vehicles and parking. Obviously, the building goes through planning approval and inspection, I end up reminding them we are there to build to the approved design, so there is nothing I can do to assist.
Although Last year, we had one unpaid bill - it had gone past any reasonable delay hitting six months in debtor days, it’s the first time anything like this has happened to us. Luckily, we have a good accountant who put us on to a debt recovery agency and it was resolved. Not something we want to see rep
What challenges do you find in our industry?
Working in construction is a good job, I enjoy it, especially working outside, but it's an aging workforce – my average age is 50+ it seems there is no one young and keen to learn ay more, I approached local apprentice scheme and it seems they only focus on specialisms now, Carpentry, Blockwork, Maintenance, etc, there are no general builder roles. This is great for bigger types of companies who have enough workforce to allow for specialist roles.
Smaller businesses like mine, have people with specialist skills, but also the same people will be the ones digging out the footings for an extension.
I think the trend of going to University is contributing, they feel like they don’t want to dig holes, as it's like they are wasting years of education, and not using their brain. It's something that could have a significant impact on our sector in the years ahead.
If you had one piece of advice about working and progressing in the sector, what would it be?
If anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing right, to the best you can. The same applies to you if you want to progress – proactively manage your self-learning. I don’t mean formal education – although that can play a part, be curious, and learn from the experienced team around you. ‘The elders’ on-site have probably faced the same challenges you are, they have a rich real-life knowledge bank that you can’t get off internet searches or YouTube videos.
It’s not all hard work construction generally is quite satisfying, you deliver a vision that has been drawn out, everything we do is focused on making this dream happen. It’s rewarding to see each stage of the build progress, from delivery of the bricks and blocks through to doing the finishing touches. I take pride in knowing that we do things right at all stages and can sleep peacefully at night in that knowledge
The biggest satisfaction for comes at the point of completion knowing, the long-lasting quality that will probably be there long after you leave this world, that and the smile on the customers face at the point of handover is so rewarding!
What’s your most important tool, either in the office or on-site?
I always say the best tool you can have is in life and work is common sense! Intelligence is all well and good, but nothing is more valuable and can replace common sense. If you think about it - common sense is really the foundation of good health and safety practice on site. Some projects on site are a higher risk, such as moving heavy steels, something as simple as lack of common sense can endanger yourself and others.
So what made you choose ROCKWOOL as a preferred insulation option?
We switched to ROCKWOOL as soon as Bradfords started stocking it! The stuff we used before was a nightmare, especially in cavity fill situations, the PIR we used to use was a solid batt, it was so unforgiving, it would push the blockwork out. ROCKWOOL on the other hand because it’s a bit flexible, it gives a little to accommodate.
The good news is that it's much less itchy than glass, I found no cough and when you wash your hands, the fibres wash out. I don’t know why but with glass it seemed to never come off!
We tend to use it in Lofts, as its great for getting in between rafters and the batts are great in party walls etc.
Do you have any tips for working with ROCKWOOL?
I’ve not got round to buying a special insulation saw, but in lieu of that I have found the best way to cut ROCKWOOL batts is with a sheet of ply to rest the batt on, a straight edge and a Stanley knife, it makes it an easy, lovely neat job and really cuts down on the dust!
How do you think things will be as we come out of lockdown?
It’s a bit too early to tell. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a worry. We have an elderly population here and most of the time we can’t go into a house to quote a project, as social distancing isn’t possible.
We wouldn’t ever quote a job remotely, as you really need to inspect the area of work to ensure an accurate quote.
What have you been doing in the downtime?
Spending time with the family, I have a 1-year-old, who was born with a heart condition, after an emergency C section, it was a bit touch and go in the early days. I spent nearly all my paternity leave in Intensive care. So, it’s nice to be around the family even the little one is being a real handful, he’s a pain in the arse, a typical boy!
The upside is the wife is happy that I am now able to work on all the jobs I said I’d do around the house!