Getting off the tools? Be careful

Twisties chips, crisps

Twisties chips, crisps, getting off the tools

Why you ask?

Food. Food will likely become your biggest necessary evil.

While on the tools, there is nothing better for smoko (lunch) than a big greasy hamburger, a side of chips and a soft drink. As we eat, we all sit around joking about how we will get fat if we keep eating this way. Who cares, we work hard, sweat our butts off, we will be fine.

Famous last words those ones. Those words did come back to haunt me. The first time I got off the tools, I had six employees.  I don’t think more than a few months had passed before my lovely brothers pointed out how much my waistline had grown.

It happens to just about everyone

Which raises an interesting point, talk to most people that have moved on from the tools into a hands-off role, there is a similar theme. Speaking with Tim a carpenter who worked his way to being a construction manager, said that he had put on a few kilos as well. He said that he had to sort out his eating habits and jokes with the guys on site about where he has found himself.

Food on a table

The crazy thing, we joke about putting on the extra weight if we keep eating the way we do while on the tools. But it still catches a lot of us out.

Damien, a formwork carpenter, turned project manager who was a competitive powerlifter, had a few lessons in store for himself. “I couldn’t eat nearly as much junk, or the quantities and I had to make a conscious effort to drink enough.”

Talking with Nathan from Citi Industries, he was one of the lucky ones that managed to go the other way and turn to a healthier way of eating.

Just remember that if you are looking to get off the tools and move over to a less physically demanding role, beware of your eating habits. Which is easier said than done, ask anyone that has made the jump.

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Don’t stand on the outside of construction

Construction site with tower crane

Construction site with tower crane

I am sitting here about to meet some friends, and I had a flick through my Twitter news feed. I came across this article from The Economist “Efficiency eludes the construction industry.”

The article brings some interesting statistics into the spotlight about our industry. It is sobering and slightly confronting having what we already know put in our faces.

Now, this could be a case of me not seeing the forest through all the trees. Looking from the outside, looking in and then writing about our industry is flaunt with danger. And like a lot of people within the industry, this article is exactly why we don’t read “construction news.”

By the time I got to the end of the article, it felt like it was a personal attack of sorts. And the frustration comes from the very fast finger pointing at construction companies fighting for profits and lack of investment. Hang on, isn’t making a profit what being in business all about? The statement, “lack of investment” is a courageous comment.  I know so many tradesmen that love to show off their shiny new power tools.

Just look through social media, all the new power tools that are coming on to the market. Every other tradesman on social media are trying out a new Dewalt power saw, or a Milwaukee cordless plumbing snake (yes they exist, no more pulling every trap apart).

Construction is in the business of people

And this is where the article falls apart; it completely misses the human, the person, the tradesman building each building. Construction is not a commodity business; construction is in the business of people.


The Economist efficiency article
Image screen grab copyright The Economist

The Economist touches on the feast and famine cycles that construction has to deal with, but again misses the individual that makes up construction. Each and every single individual goes through this cycle as well.


I will put it to you this way; would you work hard, look for better ways to do tasks, knowing that you have no employment at the end of the project?

If we want to deal with the “inefficiencies” of the industry, let’s start getting in touch with the people that make up the construction industry.

Automation, robots and all the technology that promise to “disrupt” and “change” the industry is a long way off, before you argue, read this. And if we stop treating the industry as a commodity, the “worker” will be the one that brings the change that everyone keeps screaming about.

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