Develop a Foundation for Working in the Construction Industry
For anyone who wants to broaden their skills and knowledge of construction from tradesmen and labourers to engineers and developers.
Construction is a broad industry involving aspects of the built environment from building construction to landscaping and land development.
Construction is and always has been a major employer; and despite changes in the way things are done (eg. increasing mechanisation), it is likely to always be a major part of the fabric of civilisation.
With Carpentry and Project management as core modules in this course, everyone who completes the certificate will have a fundamental understanding of how lots of different things are built, and how the building projects are managed; and as such, a foundation and key skills that are of value in any construction workplace. Beyond that, you have the opportunity to expand and diversify your studies through four electives. By allowing you to choose the electives you take, we are allowing each graduate an opportunity to have a different skills mix to other graduates. Being different is particularly important in today's world. By being different, you are able to stand out in the crowd, get noticed, and secure work that you might otherwise not have been able to get.
Note that each module in the Certificate in Construction is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
How to Choose a Contractor
On any construction project; there will always be a wide variety of different jobs to be done. Some require unskilled labour; but many require specific skills; some of which may only be able to be carried out by specialists, with specialist licences (eg. electricians, plumbers). As such; part of undertaking a construction project, involves engaging contractors to do specialised jobs. Choosing a good contractor is, in itself, a skill.
When choosing a contractor for work around the home or office, the first think to consider is the contractor's references. Some contractors will be able to provide written references from previous work contracts undertaken and/or employment. It is worthwhile checking the authenticity of such references if in doubt about their authenticity. These days, references may also be found on various social media websites. Often, some of those who have had previous dealings with them will post references and ratings on websites with regards to their satisfaction with the work completed. Detailed ratings may include information about such things as
- The time taken to complete the work (and any delays)
- The quality of the work
- The cost (and any unforeseen or additional costs)
- How satisfied they were with the work and the contractor
- Whether they would recommend the contractor or use their services again
Depending on the profession, a contractor may be required to be registered. Registration means complying with standards of practice which are established by the overseeing bodies of a particular profession, often in conjunction with, under the instruction of, local or national government. If a contractor's profession has a legal requirement for registration, then they usually have to be registered in order to practice. Registration means that their work not only has to comply to prescribed guidelines, but that faulty work may be guaranteed by insurance. Of course, private contractors must keep their insurance paid up to date in order to retain validity, so it is worthwhile asking for documentation to prove this. The last thing you want to do is to give the green light to someone to build or make alterations to a structure which is later found to be faulty only to discover that the workmanship is not covered. Even if a contractor is no longer operating provided their insurance was valid at the time the work was completed then the insurance company must honour their agreement.
Another useful check is to find out whether the contractor has any complaints made against them. Depending on your country or region, there may be different ways to find this out. Often there are government registers where complaints are logged. If unsure, you first point of call would be to contact government agencies or to try searching on the internet for registers of contractors in your area. It might not always be easy to find out if your potential contractor has any complaints made against them since sometimes contractors may change company names or dissolve businesses and start new ones. Sometimes registration licences may have conditions imposed on them. For instance, a contractor may be obliged to undertake further training in order to maintain a licence. This is not necessarily an indication that they are not worth employing. It might just be that they need to add some new skills or demonstrate that they have brushed up on some existing skills in order to offer particular services.
Once you have a shortlist of possible contractors then you can approach them and ask for a quote for the work. For example, if it is for an office fit out you might want them to include costs of design, producing drawings, supplying the furniture, making and installing any bespoke units, and so forth. Each contractor may need to visit the site in order to quote. This provides an opportunity to ask them questions and check their references. It also gives you a chance to make observations about their appearance, their social skills, they way they interact with you. This can be a good way of assessing their honesty suitability for the contract. However, like an organisational psychologist, you shouldn't make judgments about someone based on speaking to them, or interviewing them as it were, alone. This is just part of finding the right person or group of contractors for the work. A person with several missing fingers could be more competent and skilled at carpentry than someone who has their full complement of digits. Likewise, someone who wears a suit may not be as good at design as someone who wears more casual attire. It is better to focus on an individual's knowledge and the proposed work than what they look like, though clearly some indicators such as the smell of alcohol may be an obvious deterrent.
Most contractors will provide a free no-obligation quote. Some may charge to provide a quote, the fee often being deducted from the total cost of the work if it is eventually undertaken. Once you have several quotes, you need to weigh up the different elements of each proposal. The overall cost may influence your decision, but often there will be variations between the fittings and materials used in each quote. For example, one contractor may be quoting for computers with 27 inch monitors and faster processors. The desk units may have solid wooden tops compared to melamine. You might come to a decision about which particular design and units you would like to choose, so you could try asking each contractor to re-quote taking into account your preferences. You can then reassess each quote on a more level playing field. Overall, it is better to make your decision based on the reputation and credentials of the contractor in conjunction with a comparison of the costs of labour and materials.
When you come to a decision as to who you would like to offer the work to, you may need to sign a contract of employment with the individual. For building work you may also need to ask for a contract of liability insurance. Also, ask for copies of the contractor's permits where building permits are needed. If you can't find a contractor who precisely meets your requirements e.g. there are none available without some complaints against them or there are none available with your preferred experience, then you may just have to choose the best available. You might have to consider which of them has the better business set-up. For instance:
- Are they available to take phone calls or do they have a receptionist who can, or is all communication via message banks or email?
- How soon do they contact you after you leave a message?
- Will they be working on your job continuously or do they have other jobs they will need to attend to at the same time?
- How many hours per day will they be on site?
- How many workers will they provide?
- How long will it take them?
- Can they access all the materials easily?
- Do they require a deposit? How much?
CHANGE IS INEVITABLE - Are You Prepared?
The construction industry has changed dramatically over recent decades; and as we continue to develop new tools, equipment, materials and techniques; there is little doubt that construction will continue changing well into the future; perhaps at an even faster rate than in the past.
Being successful into the future depends upon not just having skills of the past. Knowing about old skills and techniques can provide a very valuable foundation for working into the future; but you also need to be up to date, well connected and aware of new ideas and materials as they emerge; able to think outside of the box, solve any unforeseen problems that arise and adapt to changes that present in the world of construction.
This course has been designed to be a learning pathway that develops your awareness, networking and ability to confront and solve problems. It teaches you more than just factual information. A graduate from this certificate should be better prepared for the changes they encounter, and better able to adapt to the challenges of an unpredictable future.
WHO BENEFITS FROM THIS COURSE?
An opportunity to broaden skills for:
- Project Managers
- Property Managers
- Handymen, Tradesmen, Labourers
- Anyone working or hoping to work in the construction industry