Ryan Abell of building services company, Abbell Building Services, describes how working in a range of building trades has helped him to instantly recognise a house builder that is great to work with. In this article, he explains what makes a house builder stand out.
Perhaps the most important attribute of an excellent builder is their level of skill. As a builder, the best advice that I can give to others wanting to be successful in the trade is to take every opportunity to learn that is given to you. The best builders have a mixture of skills – they’re not sat around waiting for scaffolding to be assembled or for something to be plastered. Learning how to do these things for yourself saves you time and makes you money.
Skilled people are especially good to work with if they’re happy to take a moment to share their skill. If they teach the team around them to work as efficiently as them, then the whole team becomes more skilled and more effective.
You won’t last long in the building trade if you don’t take what you do and how you do it seriously. Getting a bad reputation for yourself is the worst thing that you can do. If this happens, you’ll find that you’re never the first builder people call and it will become harder and harder to get regular work.
Being honest about how long a job will take, how much it will cost and owning up to any mistakes if something goes wrong is vital to having a good relationship with customers. Similarly, having respect for them and their homes goes a long way. Make sure that you take your boots off at the door if you’re going in to use the toilet and clean up after yourself. Your customer is paying you to do a job – if they have to clean up after you, then you’re making them work too.
Having respect for other tradespeople is also extremely important. Understanding what others do and having an appreciation for their skillsets means that you’ll find it easier to work together on projects (and you might end up learning a thing or two). Communicate well with everyone you come into contact with – you never know when your paths will cross again, so being flexible and helpful on one job will stand you in good stead for when you need a favour on another job in the future.
When you’re working as part of a team, having someone use their initiative can be priceless on a busy job. If supplies aren’t available from the usual place or something goes wrong, having a member of the team say “don’t worry, I’ll sort it” can save a huge amount of hassle for the rest of the team. Don’t panic or blame anyone else if things go wrong – just concentrate on fixing the problem and you’ll soon find out that you’re making yourself far more valuable than a team member who waits for someone else to resolve problems.
Another important attribution is pulling your weight. Some jobs aren’t enjoyed by everyone, but whoever said that the best leaders lead by example is spot on. Don’t get someone to do a job that you wouldn’t do yourself and if it’s a particularly difficult or annoying task, try to share responsibility for this, so that you’re working as a team and not just looking to do the things that you want to.
Of course, being safety conscious should be ingrained into any house builder, but having a team member who wanders off instead of holding onto a ladder or who leave cables lying around can be more of a burden than a blessing. Not being professional when it comes to health and safety can very easily lose you your job, if not something far more serious.
Other aspects of professionalism include keeping good time and only using your phone for the right reasons. Turning up to a job late can make the rest of your team look bad and you won’t get any thanks for standing around replying to messages or spending time on social media whilst you should be working. Your phone should be used for two things whilst you’re working (unless you’re on a break) and those should be to let your team members know as soon as possible if you’re going to be late and to answer calls from customers. Ignoring either will soon start losing you work, one way or another.
There’s the saying that if you want something done, ask a busy person. To some extent, this can be true with builders. Being organised and prioritised means that you’re always busy because you’re getting a job done and then moving onto the next as soon as you can.
One crucial aspect of organisation in my experience, is planning the tools, equipment and materials you need for the week ahead, instead of sorting it out during the day and having to leave a job to collect more materials or any equipment left behind. This is important when it comes to working with other trades too, so people are not held up or the job slowed down in any way.
Being organised means that you can keep things simple where possible, while ensuring that a job runs smoothly. Sticking to a plan means that you and your team members don’t get stressed and being dedicated to getting the right tasks done in a sensible order and on time, means that you get the job done well and done properly – and who can say better than that?