The Finishing Touch

After first doing an apprenticeship in carpentry, Andrew has recently completed his building course and is now beginning a business in property development which he intends to ease himself into over the next 2 years.

For the last few years, he has been working as a building sub contractor working on "high end" jobs on Sydney's Northern Beaches. They do second storey roof conversions as well as installing saunas (recently did the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre).

Andrew grew up in the country (South West Rocks) and enjoyed woodwork at school. At the time of completing high school (1990), the recession had hit and it was difficult to find work.He was interested in building because it was a high profile job in town and after doing a few different jobs, Andrew managed to start an apprenticeship and in his second year he started working as a subcontractor.

This meant that he was working for about 10 different builders over his apprenticeship (because it was subject to work flow), as well as doing TAFE one day a week. Having different supervisors on his apprenticeship was beneficial as he learnt different methods from each and could use the best technique on his own jobs.

He has trained 3 or 4 apprentices over the years but says that it is difficult to hire an apprentice when you are subcontracting because the jobs are continually changing.

Over the years, Andrew has seen the quality of the young people pursuing a building apprenticeship improve because the profile of the industry (and the incomes that one can receive) is strong.

Andrew enjoys the detailed aspect of his job - the fine finishing work and gains satisfaction out of this because clients are generally more patient because they want a really good product at the end (he mainly works on multi million dollar homes). As he says, "You are building someone a lifestyle... (it's more than just a shelter, and so that changes the way you think about building)."

Andrew has worked overseas - in Germany and Canada - and says that it is always easy to get work abroad because Aussies are known as hardworking and can build a house from start to finish...

VJ Bradley Conomy