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Housing : March 2009
Tools of the trade If there is one single development which has changed the face of home building in Australia it has been the introduction of power tools. Old hands may talk nostalgically about the skills required in cutting roof frames by hand, but the fact is homes are built faster, more cheaply and efficiently with the equipment available to the twenty-first century tradesperson. However, with speed and efficiency comes an added responsibility to practice Based in Gordon, on Sydney’s North Shore, the Carty Property Group specialises in the luxury new homes market and detailed top end renovations. ‘We do our own small developments of luxury homes,’ he says. ‘We have 14 staff and as well as Andrew there’s another third-year apprentice from HIA, Aidan Thomas, who was runner up to Andrew as Apprentice of the Year. HIA Apprentices … gives me the flexibility to find the best apprentice available ‘That’s the beauty of working through HIA Apprentices – which I have done from the start – the system gives me the flexibility to find the best apprentice available and if the apprentice does not work out HIA will find them another host trainer. ‘We have a very good and open relationship with HIA. They understand our business and know the kind of apprentices who suit us. They come out on site, see the kind of work we do, and don’t send us anyone who would be inappropriate.’ H HOUSING MARCH 2009 95 Ryan Melling safety. Power tools are unforgiving, both to the careless user and those who work alongside them, and their safe use is a high priority for all HIA apprentices. Carpenter-joiner Ryan Melling is happy that he has completed his apprenticeship with only one minor worksite mishap that did not involve power tools. ‘I was known as being a bit accident prone as a kid, and as I was working for my father’s company I had to make doubly sure I was doing things right,’ he says. ‘For the first few months I was mainly on the hand tools, getting my skills up, then when they could see I was reasonably competent I gradually learned how to operate the others.’ Now fully qualified, Ryan still works for his father’s company, Knightsbridge Builders, of Canning Vale, Perth. ‘I am getting trained as a supervisor and now have an apprentice working with me,’ he says. Dean Walker finished his carpentry apprenticeship with Forster Brothers in Parramatta on Christmas Eve and is full of praise for the training he received on the tools. ‘I used them all – power saws, jackhammers, electric planers – and apart from a couple of them being on the heavy side I had no trouble with them,’ he says. ‘I had really good training. The company is strict on safety; they were always on to me and the other apprentice about it. That’s going to help me now I am out in the workforce. You’re on your own and the money you make is going to depend on your skill with the tools. If someone wants you to put in a window and you can’t do it, well what’s the point?’ Dean plans to do a builder’s course through HIA while he continues to work for Forster Brothers, and his long-term goal is to eventually set up in business with a mate who is also doing the course. ‘The economic downturn is not bothering us at the moment because the company has a lot of work in the pipeline, but I know there are others who aren’t so fortunate.’ Dean Walker