How to become a builder

August 06, 2016

The construction industry is Australia’s fourth largest industry, and employs almost 10% of the Australian workforce. The industry, which covers the areas of residential building, non-residential building and engineering construction, is a good choice for a young person who is just starting to think about what they should do for a future job.

To become part of the construction industry, you’ll need more than just a hands on approach to work. Becoming a builder will require education, experience and obtaining the correct licenses.

Anyone can organise bin hire in Melbourne and undertake small amounts of renovation work within their own home, but to build on a professional level there are certain requirements that you must first reach.

Builders need to have an understanding of all trades, not just building, as they will work closely with many other tradespeople such as plumbers and electricians. They will also need to possess the skill to be able to estimate quantities and costs of materials, jobs and labour needed for a project, understand relevant laws and permit regulations, be able to decipher drawings and floor plans and be responsible for the management of different projects and tradespeople involved.

On top of all of this, before a builder can even begin work, they will also need the right permits and licenses for the state that they are currently working in. But first of all, let’s start at the beginning. How do you become a builder?

Education and apprenticeships

If you’ve decided that building is the job for you, don’t rush to quit school just yet. Although traditionally that is exactly what happened with anyone going into a trade, it is now becoming less common to leave school in Year 10 to take up an apprenticeship. Education has become important in all areas of work, including on the construction site. Although an apprenticeship will give you a solid background for gaining experience, higher education is well regarded when it comes time for promotion or getting a new job.

It is no longer necessary to enter the building workforce just via an apprenticeship either. Some people are going through university or other tertiary education in order to receive their Cert IV, Diploma or even Degree in Building and Construction. By doing this, they finish their studies with a B class Building License in hand.

This isn’t to say that you should ditch the apprenticeship altogether, as it can be a great start to becoming a builder. Learning on the job by other skilled tradespeople while being paid is a good opportunity. It’s just that now it is recommended that you finish Year 12 before you begin as it may help you down the track when promotions are being handed out.

Other requirements

In every state, there is a list of requirements for obtaining your building license. Part of the requirements is the education as mentioned above, and the other parts are more to do with things such as the insurance you carry or whether or not you’ve claimed bankruptcy within a specified period of time. The requirements in each state vary, so you’ll need to look up the guidelines for your area before you apply.

There are also different eligibility criteria based on the kind of work you wish to carry out. This covers anything from demolition through to commercial building work. So before you go ahead and order the skip bin and start tearing down a house, make sure you have all of your legal documents and licensing in place first. In Victoria, for example, you will need to apply for registration with the Building Practitioners Board if you wish to carry out any building work that is worth more than $5,000 or if you want to demolish or remove a home.

Types of building work

Before you get into the building industry, it can help to know which area you are most interested in, so you can focus your apprenticeship or studies on that. Here are some of the options for building work:

New Home Builder

Specialising in new homes from the ground up will mean you need to know about site selection, logistics, costs and have ongoing customer service from start to finish with the entire project. You can do custom homes or work for a new homes company, such as Henley who have no shortage of projects at any given time.

Renovations and Extensions

You may want to specialise in home renovations or extensions, which will mean becoming equipped to work out how to turn an existing structure into something new, while having a sound knowledge of technical issues such as load bearing walls.

Project Managers

Each project needs a manager and if you are good at co-ordinating people, this might be the path for you. Part of this job includes managing other contractors, such as plumbers and electricians, as well as the buying and delivery of material and organising the skip bins to remove the waste.

Commercial Builders

Commercial building is the construction of office buildings, retail buildings and factories. These are usually large projects and you will be in charge of making sure they are completed on time and within budget.