There is a common perception when it comes to the British construction industry that it’s all endless tea breaks, wolf whistles and builder’s bums. Combine that image with the horror shows on TV, such as Cowboy Builders, and it’s no wonder why the industry has, in the past, suffered from a bad reputation.
Thankfully, the perception of construction versus the reality couldn’t be further apart, as we discovered in our recent Builder’s Lot survey of 500 UK builders. We found out what we always knew to be true, that builders are a hard working lot, so isn’t it about time we started cutting them a bit of slack?
It would be impossible to complete a successful construction project if builders really did live up to the stereotype. More than 35% of construction employees run their own business and almost 50% take part in the modern apprenticeship schemes. There’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to planning a project, including recruiting the right specialists for the job, whilst all the time working to often inflexible budgets, regulations and deadlines. It’s not as easy as it sounds when the biggest stress and stumbling block that construction workers face lies completely in Mother Nature’s hands.
The weather is a huge factor when it comes to keeping a job on schedule. Over the last few years, this country has endured absolute extremes of weather, including high winds and floods. Even last year’s scorching summer brought added pressure to workers, and due to the nature of the job and the machinery used, added pressure means added danger.
In Britain, construction is a thriving industry and it is a major force in providing employment opportunities. As many as 1 in 14 of the UK workforce is employed in construction, which is almost 2 million people, with just under 200,000 being women. The industry provides 88,000 new job opportunities every year with a large intake of school leavers being placed immediately onto a solid career path. The construction industry is also boosting British manufacturing as our survey revealed that 63% of builders would prefer to buy British products!
When is a builder not a builder? When he’s a logistics manager, glazier, plasterer, tiler and so on. The term ‘builder’ covers all manner of skills and specialisms required within the construction process, even for the seemingly most straightforward of jobs. Most of these techniques require specialist training, and years on the job working alongside the experts, getting practical experience. The builders we surveyed revealed that on an average week, they are working on four different projects, so even though a builder’s job seems quite straight forward, they have a lot to juggle!
Thanks to the recent phase of DIY shows that fill our TV schedules, a whole new challenge has been presented to the industry. With fired up imagination and dreams of saving huge piles of money, more and more individuals with a casual knowledge of the building trade are attempting to take on big building projects without enlisting help from the experts. Far from taking work away from construction companies, these projects can often require the experts to come in on emergency call and fix what they started. Even with the most successful of self builds, the financial and emotional costs of doing it yourself rarely balance out. Combining a self build with your day job, and dare we even mention the life you once had on your evenings and weekends, is stressful and extremely tiring. Quite simply, time is money, and building is both time consuming and costly.
With standards, training and the competition getting higher, our constructions workers really are pulling their trousers up. So, isn’t it about time we started appreciating them, instead of tarring them all with the same brush? Come on, milk and one sugar please!