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HANDY MAC: Builders’ skills

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A contractor needs courage, and must be a diplomat and a good negotiator

It dawned on me earlier this week that I have now entered my 49th year in the building industry, or it could be my 60th if I include my first experience as a five-year-old, making tea for the builders on a housing development in the United Kingdom.

That’s really where it started and having got my hands dirty then, I never stopped. It is coincidental that I have just received a WhatsApp from the executive director of the Western Cape branch of the Master Builders Association containing something put together by a previous executive director of the Building Industries Federation of SA.
You might enjoy some of his offerings. “A builder has to be the most courageous man in the country. No businessman risks as much. He works against the odds, against unknown ground conditions, weather, labour problems, travelling and traffic difficulties.
“A builder has learned to be a diplomat, a negotiator and a coordinator, and to be optimistic, strong, wise and commanding. “If he makes one mistake, he loses his profit. Two mistakes and he lands in court. If he makes a profit, he is a profiteer. If he makes a loss he is a poor businessman.
“He doesn’t need the thrill of a race track or a lottery ticket for his very existence is a gamble. “The calibre of men in the building industry today and the changing skyline in our cities is evidence that they have faced the challenge and won.”
This was written years ago. Unfortunately, we have lost many of the men who made our industry what it was, along with their skills. In 1971 I caught a train at 4.30am to be on site in town by 6 am. Now at least I drive in but am still at the office by 6 am.

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