Why are you a builder?

Why are you a builder?

Why are you a builder? How did you get into the building game? Did you ever really think about it, or was it something you just drifted into? And – having become a builder – do you think you had particular characteristics that made you gravitate towards the job?


There is a photo online that has gone “viral” – as I believe the expression is – of a young man struggling to squeeze a sedan bed frame into the back seat of an ordinary saloon car. The picture – taken from above, from a nearby balcony – makes it obvious that his attempted task is impossible.


The accompanying caption states, “Here you can understand the importance of those wooden cube games in childhood”. This clearly refers to the toy we were all once presented with, consisting of a board with square, round, triangular etc holes cut in it, and a selection of shaped wooden blocks that we were supposed to try to fit through them.


Now, I don’t know about you, and I certainly don’t want to sound big-headed, but my honest recollection of that game, when I was a toddler, was that I took one look at it and decided not to waste my time. It was just so obvious. The square block goes through the square hole, the round block goes through the round hole – big deal. Please don’t make me demonstrate it to you.


So maybe that’s why I was destined to end up in the building game – because the way that materials and shapes and spaces fit together was always just so obvious to me.


I suspect this is the case for all us builders – things just look obvious to us which, amazingly, are not obvious to ordinary people. So you get called in to look at a house with a dampness problem, and before you’ve got out of the van you notice a green stain down one corner of the outside front wall.


As the client opens the front door, you say, “Looks like you’ve got a leaking gutter there, mate”.


“How do you know that?” he asks.


[Thinks to self] Because it’s OBVIOUS!


I don’t know, maybe I wasn’t born with superior powers of observation – maybe I have just accumulated knowledge from my years working on buildings. But it doesn’t seem like that.


One other point. During the covid lockdown, I was having trouble finding a groundwork contractor to do a drive for me. I had never done a big drive myself before. So I asked my mate Damian if he thought he and I would be able to do it together.


“Jeff”, he said, “We are builders. We can do ANYTHING”.


And he was right. How hard can it be?


It’s those two characteristics – an appreciation of the blindingly obvious, and a can-do attitude, that make us the great builders that we are.

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