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February 2022

The novice who nailed it 2021

25 Jan 2022, News, PAC

Gareth Tidswell, a second-year apprentice from Hawke’s Bay, was thrown in the deep end when he was asked to lead the new build of a two-bedroom home 

Entries for Novice Who Nailed It are judged on the nature of the challenge they face, and the initiative and grit shown to overcome it. This year’s winner demonstrated all these attributes when he was asked to lead the construction of a house under limited supervision and walked away with a $500 PlaceMakers gift card.

Gareth explains that one of their builders finished up mid-November and, with the current climate in the building industry, it was proving very hard to replace him. 

“We’d just wrapped the building when he left, so with nobody else more qualified to take over, I was left to run the job! That included doing all the planning, helping out with roofing and directing all the subbies.”

With supervision mostly limited to Restricted Building Work, Gareth was trusted with a project that included some intricate finishes. He called on what he had previously learnt and researched things he didn’t know, as well as discussing specific things with the architect to ensure it was right.

Cool as a cucumber

“When you’re 18 months into your apprenticeship and you have to finish off a house from cladding onwards, there’s a lot to do. Plus, the design included some tricky elements such as sanded chipboard floors, big pivot doors, clear pine windows and an oak veneer kitchen.”

Thankfully, Gareth stayed cool, calm and collected and says he was able to call on some help when he needed it.

“I had a builder come and do the main front door, which was oak. I also had help on one of the two decks, and an apprentice who was able to help from time-to-time.”

Despite taking on more responsibility than he ever bargained for, Gareth’s work passed all the council inspections, and he was able to finish the build on time and to the client’s satisfaction, while learning heaps in the process. Win-win!

Studying on the move

“I had built a few houses before that, but I’ve never been the main builder. For this project, I had to put in a lot of reading at night and I’d turn up an hour early and stay an hour late every day. 

“It certainly taught me how to read plans properly. As an apprentice, you often look at plans and understand bits and pieces, but for this job I had to read them well enough to understand every single detail.  

“I was also under a fair amount of pressure, as we had to make sure there was one person on site at all times, and that was normally me.”

Furthermore, Gareth says the experience taught him that good communication and time management are vital. For him, writing lists and then prioritising the tasks helped him achieve the goal.

Are you the next Novice Who Nailed It?

Make sure to enter the PlaceMakers Apprentice of the Month competition, which runs from February to November. Your project does not have to be completed and you can enter more than once!  

Each winner of Apprentice of the Month goes into the selection to be named The Novice Who Nailed It. They will receive the ultimate bragging rights and a prize valued at over $500 (incl. GST).


Keen to share your story?

We’d love to hear from PAC members keen to share their story and pass on advice to other apprentices. 

You will be featured in our section ‘From the Ground Up’, so email pac@placemakers.co.nz if you’re interested.

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