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Labourers Squeezed As Construction Dries Up

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The days of the £50,000-a-year brickie are numbered as Britain's housebuilders tighten their purse-strings to deal with a rapidly cooling housing market.

this jogged my memory of SUPER-HOD.

he was a building super hero that was on 12k a year as a hod carrier in the last late 80s boom.

he was in a lot of papers at the time, and could carry three hods to support 3 builders. loadsamoney.

does anyone else remember super hod ? wonder what happened to him.

he looked like jaws from the bond films. with a hod.

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The days of the £50,000-a-year brickie are numbered as Britain's housebuilders tighten their purse-strings to deal with a rapidly cooling housing market.

this jogged my memory of SUPER-HOD.

he was a building super hero that was on 12k a year as a hod carrier in the last late 80s boom.

he was in a lot of papers at the time, and could carry three hods to support 3 builders. loadsamoney.

does anyone else remember super hod ? wonder what happened to him.

he looked like jaws from the bond films. with a hod.

Yes , I remember him from the papers. I guess he's living on incapacity benefit now, actually it would be good to see a 'where are they now' article on this.

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One of the comments under the article:

Reducing the pay of brickies from 50,000pa to 45,000pa is hardly what id call a squeeze. These workers must be amongst the few people who earn enough to be able to afford these new rabbit hutches, sorry, homes.

Any how if we have a massive under supply of homes and strong economic fundamentals why should there be a slow down?

Liam, Tynemouth, UK

Liam must surely be an HPCer - anyone owning up?

M21er

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The days of the £50,000-a-year brickie are numbered as Britain's housebuilders tighten their purse-strings to deal with a rapidly cooling housing market.

this jogged my memory of SUPER-HOD.

he was a building super hero that was on 12k a year as a hod carrier in the last late 80s boom.

he was in a lot of papers at the time, and could carry three hods to support 3 builders. loadsamoney.

does anyone else remember super hod ? wonder what happened to him.

he looked like jaws from the bond films. with a hod.

Maybe in new build and as I work in that sector I can tell you that it is slowing down. However, the private trade is still very brisk. I know people who are hauled out and as a result I'm shifting from new build contracts to private jobs. A good brickie that does a lot a work for me still makes up to £500.00 a day, not because hes fast but because of the quality of the job. The same applies to all trades, the best will always make big money. Lets face it no matter what happens the rich are always going to want to spend money. Good tradesmen do make good money.

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The days of the £50,000-a-year brickie are numbered as Britain's housebuilders tighten their purse-strings to deal with a rapidly cooling housing market.

this jogged my memory of SUPER-HOD.

he was a building super hero that was on 12k a year as a hod carrier in the last late 80s boom.

he was in a lot of papers at the time, and could carry three hods to support 3 builders. loadsamoney.

does anyone else remember super hod ? wonder what happened to him.

he looked like jaws from the bond films. with a hod.

There was a lot of balony in the press about him at the time. Max Quartermain if memory serves. Although it is true he worked on the hod, he was in fact a plastering subby - he used to get the work and employ the plasterers - and carry the hod. Called superhod because he had a bespoke, bloody great hod and he used to keep 4 plasterers supplied himself whereas, in those days, the norm was two.

He lived in a bloody great house in Stoke Poges and had gold bath fittings no less.

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Maybe in new build and as I work in that sector I can tell you that it is slowing down. However, the private trade is still very brisk. I know people who are hauled out and as a result I'm shifting from new build contracts to private jobs. A good brickie that does a lot a work for me still makes up to £500.00 a day, not because hes fast but because of the quality of the job. The same applies to all trades, the best will always make big money. Lets face it no matter what happens the rich are always going to want to spend money. Good tradesmen do make good money.

Wonder why you're paying a brickie £500 a day (pauses for laughter). Good trowels are earning £150 a day where I live. Is there some mystique about bricklaying I have missed in my 20 years in the game. A trained monkey can lay bricks to a line with profiles at each end corner.

Does he fill the perps properly? That is the burning issue.

Of course, now and again, you need someone to do a bit of tuck-pointing. That separates the lads from the ex hoddies.

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It would be nice if the hack that wrote that piece understood the difference between a tradesman and a labourer. :angry:

There aren't a lot of trades left in the building game now.

Chippies for first and second fix work arrive with a van load of tools that do the work for them. All they need to do is to be able to use a measuring tape accurately.

Plumbers? Plastic pipes and push fit fittings. Not exactly rocket science.

Brickies? Lay to a line with profiles. A monkey could do it.

Roofers? Slap a bit of felt on, nail on some tanalized battens and deal the interlocking roof tiles like a deck of cards.

Lead burning? Not any more.

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Floorers and painter-decorators will go down too - well they'll do anything for cash :lol:

A common saying in the building game in my day was 'if you can piss you can paint'.

I was on a river boat disco thingy once and despite consuming about 10 pints of bitter I found the motion of the boat and the fact the single spot to piss in had no door, the throb of the diesel engine right next to the loo and the fact you had a constant queue of a dozen people behind you meant that, no matter what happened, I could not piss. Dear Lord, what an agonising memory. I remember thinking at the time, 'I suppose I couldn't paint at the moment because I definitely can't piss.' Which was true really as I was bent double with pain and would not have been able to hold a paint brush let alone wield it.

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It would be nice if the hack that wrote that piece understood the difference between a tradesman and a labourer. :angry:

Makes no difference. They both get paid more than him. :lol:

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There aren't a lot of trades left in the building game now.

Chippies for first and second fix work arrive with a van load of tools that do the work for them. All they need to do is to be able to use a measuring tape accurately.

Plumbers? Plastic pipes and push fit fittings. Not exactly rocket science.

Brickies? Lay to a line with profiles. A monkey could do it.

Roofers? Slap a bit of felt on, nail on some tanalized battens and deal the interlocking roof tiles like a deck of cards.

Lead burning? Not any more.

How poorly educated you are, we still boss and burn lead and still use copper for domestic installations. We also use cast iron, glass, lcs and even braze copper. It's far more technical now than it has ever been and there are far more regulations concerning installation. Think about what you are saying, plumbers used to do just basic installations, now we have all the old stuff to maintain plus all the new technology such as heat recover, solar, unvented, underfloor, gshp, etc etc....not to mention tiling, joinery, plastering.

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There aren't a lot of trades left in the building game now.

Chippies for first and second fix work arrive with a van load of tools that do the work for them. All they need to do is to be able to use a measuring tape accurately.

Plumbers? Plastic pipes and push fit fittings. Not exactly rocket science.

Brickies? Lay to a line with profiles. A monkey could do it.

Roofers? Slap a bit of felt on, nail on some tanalized battens and deal the interlocking roof tiles like a deck of cards.

Lead burning? Not any more.

A common saying in the building game in my day was 'if you can piss you can paint'.

Well thats part of the problem down south now, the standard of work is utterly dire. A trade takes years to master. You can put a monkey on a roof and make it nail on tile battons, but give them a bespoke traditional kitchen to make and fit, they wouldnt know where to start.

All trades take years of practice to become skilled and educated, whether you are a plasterer, accountant or quantum physicist.

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Well thats part of the problem down south now, the standard of work is utterly dire. A trade takes years to master. You can put a monkey on a roof and make it nail on tile battons, but give them a bespoke traditional kitchen to make and fit, they wouldnt know where to start.

All trades take years of practice to become skilled and educated, whether you are a plasterer, accountant or quantum physicist.

What on earth is a bespoke, traditional kitchen? One with an old Formica topped table in it and a free standing New World 45 oven? I've built houses that sold for over a million quid 20 years ago - and those kitchens were made out of chipboard like all others. They might have hardwood doors, but the carcase is made from some sort of board or other - for the very good reason they don't shrink or warp.

As for it taking years of practice to become a plasterer. This is one of those common myths. I could show you how to plaster a wall in a day. I could show you how to mix it, where and when to use bonding, browning, thistle, sand and cement etc. thickness and number of coats, how soon after one to apply the next etc - what sort of topcoat to use etc. (I know bonding and browning are now 'out of date'). I could show you the 'proper' way to plaster from grounds - which is never done these days because of the cost. Plastering ceilings is, to be fair, a little more tricky.

However, you'd either pick it up pretty quickly or you'd never be any good at it. Depends how well co-ordinated you are. How basically capable you are. Lots of people are too cack-handed to plaster, cut a mitre or even hang wallpaper. But none of them require years of practice. Obviously you get better as you do something more but what really improves after initial ability has been obtained is speed, not quality. Quality is about time and time is about money.

In the vast majority of modern houses plastering now consists of sticking 8x4 sheets of plasterboard on a wall using 'dabs'. One matey undoes the bucket - highly skilled this one - and puts dabs of the contents on the wall at positions to suit the size of the board. Matey 2, meanwhile, may well be dragging a stanley knife across one edge of the plasterboard to make it a little shorter to suit the room height. He then picks the board up, places it on a little rocker that he can use to lever the board up and 'applies' it to the walls. Then, using tools that take half a lifetime to master - a straight edge and a spirit level - he taps the board against the dabs until the board is reasonably plumb and aligned with the one next to it.

Then, after the boards are fixed in this time-honoured and traditional manner, another guy spreads a filler across the joints between the boards (which have feathered edges) and buries a tape in them. He then sticks some more filler on top and using a straight-edged tool about a foot wide - fills the feather edges creating a level surface.

Soon after this dries a bloke comes in, highly skilled this one, pours some paint out of a can into a tray and proceeds to paint the walls with a roller - cutting in carefully with a brush around the edges - if he is from the traditional school that is.

At all times all COSHE regulations are carefully followed, hard hats are worn and pretty, bright yellow waistcoats create a save environment.

I have built all over this country. Can't say I've ever noticed a difference in quality 'oop North as compared to 'dahn Saahff'

In the old days trade apprenticeships used to take 4 years. 6 months learning the job and 3 and half years at low wages to repay the employer for training you.

Edited by Lets' get it right

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I think people forget that expectations are higher now than they ever have been. Very few people could afford fitted bathrooms and kitchesn 40 years ago and very few people had wall to ceiling tiling in this country.

My experience is that I have to know a lot more than just plumbing to get the well paid jobs...

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How poorly educated you are, we still boss and burn lead and still use copper for domestic installations. We also use cast iron, glass, lcs and even braze copper. It's far more technical now than it has ever been and there are far more regulations concerning installation. Think about what you are saying, plumbers used to do just basic installations, now we have all the old stuff to maintain plus all the new technology such as heat recover, solar, unvented, underfloor, gshp, etc etc....not to mention tiling, joinery, plastering.

Be honest. There's not a lot to it. I have worked on pretty much everything you can think of in the construction industry - from head offices for oil companies in London, to banks, housing, tunneling and motorways. No matter how high quality the finishes I rarely used to look at someone and think 'that takes real skill'. Lead burning I'll give you but you don't get much of it in housing.

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How poorly educated you are, we still boss and burn lead and still use copper for domestic installations. We also use cast iron, glass, lcs and even braze copper. It's far more technical now than it has ever been and there are far more regulations concerning installation. Think about what you are saying, plumbers used to do just basic installations, now we have all the old stuff to maintain plus all the new technology such as heat recover, solar, unvented, underfloor, gshp, etc etc....not to mention tiling, joinery, plastering.

One of the old school. I lived in a 160-year-old house in Central London and strongly suspect the original piping came with the original house - lead buried in lath & plaster. The number of plumbers who greeted any requests for work with "I don't touch lead" was depressing. I eventually found a gnarled 70 year old who dealt with the problem (at a price!)

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Chipboard units :lol: thats some million pound house you sold them, must have seen them coming. So you have never seen a proper kitchen built and fitted? thats amazing. Most chippies think a joint is something you smoke, not a way of joining wood together, a proper kitchen requires mountains of skill, veneering, inlays, custom mouldings, different types of joints, laminating, finishing, dressing, selecting proper cuts of timber for the job etc etc.

Its utter nonsense that it takes only 6 months to fully learn all aspects of carpentry and joinery, but basic painting and decorating i'd say 6 months to year or so, same goes for basic domestic electrics, plumbing, bricklaying etc, but advanced skills can take longer, it depends allot on the variety of work the apprentice is exposed to, I've seen joiners thats never done anything other than shuttering for 20 years. To master a trade to it's full entirety can take years, thats the way it is.

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I asked an electrician I'd been working with how he works out power factors (lighting) - he had no idea what I was talking about...

Edited by TDH270

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unfortunately money talks. there are people at all different stages of their career so knowledge speed quality varies with experience. Times change, new techniques and methods are developed. get over it.

I learnt basic carpentry at school. does that mean im part qualified?! :P

loadsamoney.JPG

Edited by Bug

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Chipboard units :lol: thats some million pound house you sold them, must have seen them coming. So you have never seen a proper kitchen built and fitted? thats amazing. Most chippies think a joint is something you smoke, not a way of joining wood together, a proper kitchen requires mountains of skill, veneering, inlays, custom mouldings, different types of joints, laminating, finishing, dressing, selecting proper cuts of timber for the job etc etc.

Its utter nonsense that it takes only 6 months to fully learn all aspects of carpentry and joinery, but basic painting and decorating i'd say 6 months to year or so, same goes for basic domestic electrics, plumbing, bricklaying etc, but advanced skills can take longer, it depends allot on the variety of work the apprentice is exposed to, I've seen joiners thats never done anything other than shuttering for 20 years. To master a trade to it's full entirety can take years, thats the way it is.

Veneering in kitchen cabinets eh? Which stately home was that?

To learn enough carpentry to work on building sites building houses would take 6 months at most. Let's see - joists - real skill required there - cutting them to length with a skil saw. Then there's fixing the metal brackets to stop them twisting. Hammering a few galvanised nails into wood. How about the trussed roof. Tremendous skill required to cut the 4x1 to length to do the wind bracing. A dormer? Hmm, seriously tricky.

As for inside. Architrave, skirting - even the doors come pre-hung these days. It's more like a production line these days than any sense of a skilled trade. One guy measuring, the other guy cutting on a bench or table saw and the first guy sticking them on with glue and a few pins.

I had a good look at a Smallbone kitchen once. Not a bit of chipboard in sight. The draw casings were made out of banana boxes.

One of my bosses years ago was a time served joiner who had worked all his life in the City on flash office buildings - all to a very high standard. What he didn't know about joinery and finishing trades in general - including all the fibrous plaster, marble and hardwood you like - wasn't worth knowing.

He was the project manager and I was a section foreman. I said to him one day that I was going to get 'Fred' to do the veneering of some panels in the conference rooms of a very high quality project. He asked why I was going to get him to do it. I said 'because he's been at it for 30 years. At the time I was about 28 and my boss was 55. I thought he'd approve of my picking someone experienced. He said 'I'd get Billy to do it.' I said 'But he's only a kid, he only's only just finished his apprenticeship'. And my boss said 'He's better now than Fred will ever be. Don't make the mistake of thinking that because someone has been doing something for 30 years they are good at it. Fred is an average joiner and will never be any better.'

I learned a lesson then from someone I regarded as a 'master'. It doesn't take years to become a skilled tradesman, it requires aptitude.

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I learned a lesson then from someone I regarded as a 'master'. It doesn't take years to become a skilled tradesman, it requires aptitude

Well I can see your point, aptitude is what makes or breaks someone in a trade, but it still does take allot of learning over years to pick up many of the skills needed to leave a true high quality product. Some of the best old hand carpenters I have met say they never stop learning, thats why they find the trade interesting. I can see your argument about modern cheap domestic housing, it is a bit like repetitive factory work, which is a great shame I think.

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  • 295 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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