The third of our 5 children is graduating from high school in a few short weeks. As all grade 12 students are presented with the uncertainty of what is to come, we have been struck by how difficult the big decisions around this time are. When recently looking at options for our boy, he began to ask questions about being a tradie. The first of which was about what they do all day, and so because I can speak with a sense of authority on the matter, let’s take a look at a day in the life of a builder, for anyone else wondering what they get up to!
What Does A Typical Day Look Like For A Builder?
As with all jobs, the typical daily life of a builder will differ depending on how the company is structured. What I share here is a look into what our life was like at the helm of a company that had 12 employees, and several projects on the go at once.
As you could imagine, most days start early, like 4.30-5 am and begin with checking emails. It’s pretty rare not to find a bunch of emails that have come in overnight from subbies, clients, new enquires and staff. As a builder, one of your biggest responsibilities is problem-solving and you can bet there are plenty of problems to be solved!
After 30-60 minutes dealing with emails, its time for a little breakie before heading out to site. When running several jobs at a time, it is important to ensure that you are checking in on the job that has the opportunity for issues first. That might be to instruct staff or subbies, or to check in with the clients or just to ensure the progress is as has been reported.
Depending on where the sites are located and the problems that might arise the day pans out from here. Let me tell you that despite best-made plans, very rarely does it all go the way you’d expect it too. There can be material runs, client, architect, certifier meetings, staff to work with, subbies to see, even strapping on the nail bag from time to time to iron out an issue.
If all goes well, the afternoon is spent meeting with clients both current and potential, attending to client quotes, gather quotes from subbies and suppliers, getting through the paperwork, providing feedback and direction to staff and subcontractors and finally, paying bills.
There is a huge amount of financial risk that comes with being a builder. Most of the job cost is carried by the builder until each section is complete. Some of those sections can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and comes with enormous stress, but that is part of the job.
When things go wrong onsite, no matter how or who is responsible, the builder as principal contractor, ultimately holds the responsibility to fix it. That can create a lot of extra work and is the biggest reason for having a fantastic team is so important.
After having this conversation with our son, he no longer wants to be a builder. He had assumed that a day in the life of the builder, was typically spent on the tools, and sure early on in his career it was, but with growth came added responsibility and that meant the need to come off the tools. Interestingly, as much as The Builder thought that he’d love being in that position, he didn’t. I think it is a common misconception that someone who works physically would love a long career off the tools, and yet so many don’t.
Through a lot of hard work and delegation, we were able to end most of our days by 6 pm, ready to be up early again the next day.
Being a builder sure looks different than we thought, I imagine it looks different to what many others think too?
Does your day look like others would assume? What time do you start work each day?