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Housing : March 2009
A great career With 57 years’ experience behind him, Brian Dawson says he has no hesitation recommending the building industry as a career to any young person today. In his long association with the industry he’s worked as a carpenter, subcontractor, contract builder, supervisor, construction manager, project manager, teacher and building consultant. ‘The improvement in the tools and technology generally has been tremendous,’ he says. ‘When I started we used to cut all the roofs with a handsaw. We did all our own fencing and we would cut the tops of the fences off by hand. If you asked someone to do that now they would lock you up. ‘And the variety of materials in 1951. ‘One of the sons of the owner, Keith Robinson, went on to become HIA’s national president in later life,’ he says. ‘I stayed there for 12 months and decided I didn’t want to work in a joinery all my life, so I transferred to a builder, Jack Borrell, who worked in East Bentleigh.’ His apprenticeship completed, he began his own business in 1958 trading under the name of BP Dawson for several years, but having married and with a growing family, opted for more regular hours as a supervisor with Lewis Coote Homes in Blackburn, Victoria. For a while it seemed Brian’s association with the building industry would be finished for good He rose to become general manager before deciding in the mid-1970s to again become self-employed, this time as a building consultant under the name of Building Techniques. But perhaps his most significant life-changing event came as a result of a chance meeting during a holiday in Merimbula. HOUSING MARCH 2009 ‘I was at the Pambula-Merimbula Golf Club and they told me they needed a project manager for the $2 million extension they were planning. The upshot was they gave me the job. I finished the project on time and we liked Merimbula so much we moved here permanently. You could say that it was the holiday that lasted 25 years.’ Moving with his wife, Maria, and youngest son, David, Brian set up his own building business before opening a franchise with Lucas Morris Homes. The recession of the early 1990s and the shocking news of his melanoma brought an end to that, and for a while it seemed Brian’s association with the building industry would be finished for good. But he survived. ‘When I realised I was going to be around for a little while longer I needed something to do to keep me out of mischief,’ he says. ‘So I registered Merimbula Building Techniques and ever since I have been doing pre-purchase inspections, ownerbuilder warranty insurance as well as working as an arbitrator and consultant with a lot of solicitors in building disputes. ‘Over the past six or seven years I have been the building adviser for the available today is fantastic, especially when you look at the range of panel boards, all manufactured with chipboard or fibro cement.’ However, he believes there are a few problems facing the industry, such as ‘the ridiculous regulations we are burdened with and the time involved in getting development approval to do anything’. ‘We used to get a permit on a house in a week, now you are lucky if you get one in six months.’ Merimbula RSL Club on extensions and alterations valued at about $8 million.’ Brian’s wife died four years ago and David has moved on to Queensland where he is a building inspector. Brian’s other children, daughters Rose and Cath and son Kevin, all work in Victoria. He’s a proud grandfather 12 times over and a recent great-grandfather. His widespread family is an incentive to keep on the move, and now that he has just handed over his business to a younger man he plans to do just that. ‘I’ve been going away on caravan trips for a couple of months at a time in recent years and now I plan to head up through Central Australia,’ he says. ‘I could be away for three months, six months or a year, who knows? My time is my own now.’ H 75