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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
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    • CommentAuthordelprado
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2018
     
    All I can think about is designing houses, working around problems, and fighting incompetence in this country. Do it once, do it right.

    I am a lawyer by trade, but I want to do something with construction. Anyone got any ideas?
    • CommentAuthoradam_w
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2018 edited
     
    I am exactly the same, I am a fully qualified mechanical engineer in the aerospace industry and all I can think about is the detailing in the roof of my forthcoming extension, my wife thinks I have some sort of OCD and to be fair, I don't think she's far wrong.

    I must admit I've also thought about transitioning in to the building trade at some level but then I try to think logically about it and convince myself that the reason I enjoy the building is because I'm the one directly benefitting from it. I live in a house that I designed, that I built and that I am proud of. I can't imagine for one minute going though all those blood sweat and tears to then hand the keys over to somebody else no matter what the financial benefit may be but maybe that's just me.

    If you do decide to go for it, I salute you and your gigantic balls and wish you the best of luck!

    Adam
  1.  
    My route 'in' (to advice, consultancy and hands-on work in 'Green' Building) was a bit tortuous, but I know at least 3 people who have used their own eco-refurb as a 'springboard' to running their own consultancy and/or hands-on services to others doing eco refurbs.

    Some people have come into the 'arena' through the mainstream building trade, and others have done qualifications such as one of the MScs run by the Centre for Alternative technology (CAT) and other qualifications.

    I would suggest you join the AECB (Ass'n for Env't Conscious Building) if you have not already done so. Have a look also at AECB's Carbonlite Retrofit On-line course. It may be that your own research has covered all of the content, but it is very good on most of the areas you'll need, and particularly so on moisture risks in buildings.

    Good luck with the 'journey'.
    • CommentAuthordelprado
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2018
     
    Cheers Nick. Funnily enough I just joined AECB yesterday. I think I'd like to get competent at a trade, at least to some degree, since what I think is really missing is technical know how and practical know how and skills in the same person.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2018
     
    Brilliant! Any of you like-minded people within reach of Exeter? Or just west country? It's an endlesly-repeated nightmare part of my architectural duties, trying to find bright and willing trades people, builders, proj managers etc. within range of each project. It's a huge unsatisfied need - go for it.

    Not wishing to tout, but directly relevant to this, see https://www.tomfosterarchitecture.co.uk/my-list
    • CommentAuthordelprado
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2018
     
    Sorry I missed your first post Adam. Your first para made me laugh!

    "I am exactly the same, I am a fully qualified mechanical engineer in the aerospace industry and all I can think about is the detailing in the roof of my forthcoming extension, my wife thinks I have some sort of OCD and to be fair, I don't think she's far wrong."

    I have considered do I only care because its my house but the honest answer is that I dont think it is. I find if I work on the house, even if its manning a wheelbarrow all day, I go into a pleasant meditative haze, where time just disappears. I think the better criticism is that being a specific trade might get boring, which is why its much more fun to be, say a carpenter and then be a general builder (for example). And I think the biggest problem of all is that people want stuff done cheaply, for the most part, and it would be hugely unsatisfying trying to pitch against cowqboys and only winning jobs because you've had to cut corners. I think my passion would be making great buildings, not having happy customers per se. I guess you can create your own niche, though, and find the right customers. Start a proper "eco" building company, stupid name I know but its likely the google terms the right kind of customers would use.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2018
     
    Yes.

    To get ahead of the crowd as an Eco Builder, I suggest, would be to emphasise 'Eco Building Is Easy' (too late, I've got that domain!), not a fantastically complex, risky therefore expensive business. That's what all Eco builders trade on as far as I can see - guaranteed to frighten all but the rich. Another relevant web page: https://www.tomfosterarchitecture.co.uk/economic-buildability
    • CommentAuthorKenny_M
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2018
     
    Delprado - "the biggest problem of all is that people want stuff done cheaply".

    I think you have hit the nail on the head. People (including me) complain about the quality from trades, but they also want the cheapest price. I started out as a motor mechanic, the wages and conditions were poor, even though the garages charged a lot, but when I did jobs for people directly they wanted to pay next to nothing.

    When I translate that into dealing with trades for my house I want a good price, but I would pay more for quality. The problem is, how do you tell one tradesperson from the next unless you know what you are doing yourself, and if you know what you are doing yourself you will probably just do the job yourself!

    I think something that's really lacking in the industry is some sort of certification that distinguishes smart, quality tradespeople, from the rest. I did a full 4 year traditional apprenticeship, 3 years college, but now I hear people are qualifying from 'modern apprenticeships' in 18 months so it seems to be going backwards!

    Sorry if I veered off topic a bit there!!
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2018
     
    You get organisations like the Federation of Master Builders that was supposed to be just that, but soon gives up distinguishing, takes the money of all-comers and becomes an insurance co.

    And issues Forms of Contract that are phenomenally biased in favour of the builder, providing no significant recourse for the client. It simply ratifies the iniquitous belief amongst builders that it's acceptable, indeed recommended biz practice, to knowingly quote low, then lo and behold find endless 'unexpected extras'. The FMB contract provides no useful definition of the work that's been quoted for, thus the client is unable to enforce what s/he's signed for.
    • CommentAuthorbarney
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2018
     
    For Delprado

    At the last glance, the construction industry spends several orders of magnitude more on litigation than it does on training

    Clients wonder why they get poor experiences from the construction sector without realising they only agreed to pay peanuts for the work - so you get unnecessary risk taking at every level of the industry

    Personally, I'd advise you to stick to the day job and practice in the construction sector if you want to make some change

    Regards

    Barney
    • CommentAuthorMackers
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2018
     
    Delprado et al, I have the exact same dream. I have a plan to get there, eventually. I want to become a developer but do it right. Ive went from working with my father on sites doing everything from bricklaying to labouring for plasterers. I was an electrician and went back to uni to get an MEng in Building Services. Im on the road but need to get to know the business side of planning etc.

    Fostertom, I work for a large multinational that are very forward thinking. We may be of help in sustainable design, passivhaus etc. Drop me a pm for a chat.
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeJan 31st 2018
     
    I'm an indie software developer, a few ideas have come up but either I've not acted on them yet or I found someone doing it eventually. My existing audience is a different market, so changing market would be pretty hard. I do have a friend who's in the construction software industry, again an indie (but he's a structural engineer).
    • CommentAuthordelprado
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2018
     
    I wonder whether I should consider architectural technologist?
    • CommentAuthordelprado
    • CommentTimeMar 29th 2018
     
    As an update here, I've decided to train as a carpenter, and I start an NVQ in the Autumn :)
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2018
     
    Nice, what is the most important carpenters tool?
    • CommentAuthordelprado
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2018
     
    Measure?
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2018
     
    No try again
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2018
     
    This could turn out better than going to college
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2018
     
    Posted By: tonymost important carpenters tool?
    Something to pull splinters out with.
    • CommentAuthordelprado
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2018
     
    A butt plug?
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2018
     
    Usually a sharp pencil, but as always patience and a good sense of humour helps, as with anything where customers are involved.
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2018
     
    Close enough, remarkably it turns out to be a pencil sharpener, completely indispensable
  2.  
    Posted By: tonyClose enough, remarkably it turns out to be a pencil sharpener, completely indispensable

    I've always used the first chisel that came to hand:smile:
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2018
     
    Personally my, favorite is one of those folding blade pocket knives, the type that take standard double ended trimmer blades. I feel lost without it.
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2018
     
    Re the OP.
    I have no idea Paul of your age, or family status, or what your future financial expectations are, but changing careers midstream is never easy.
    Moving from a career with not much in the way capital equipment into something that is "tool" heavy and hence expensive will not be easy. Operating from the back of a van with basic site tools is especially hard. You may be lucky and get some premises with space to have some static equipment and timber storage but without it it'll be what you can fit in the van and your home.
    Private clients will want to pay you peanuts 'cos your'e just a "joiner" and when that happens for the umpteenth time, the gloss will wear of. The plentiful work will be kitchen fitting for the Sheds and the like and they'll put you under unworkable time pressures to do a good job.
    Doing bench/site work for a joinery company may be a possibility and at least it will be a regular income, but skill wise you'll be on the bottom rung.
    It'll not be easy, but good luck.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2018
     
    Hmm, my carpenters seemed to buy pencils by the gross, so they didn't need a sharpener. I'd have to say their most important tool was the Makita battery charger :bigsmile:
    • CommentAuthordelprado
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2018 edited
     
    I think my aim is to start a building company doing deep retrofits, and doing as many new build timber frames as possible - even if garden rooms! (Which I might try as a separate business made from straw bale) I think the only way to do it is to create a niche otherwise it’s just a race to the bottom -that means wood fibre insulation, proper air tight construction, straw bale, using lime and green roofs etc. I wouldn’t be happy just dry lining!

    Carpentry is the best all round trade as involved setting out etc, though I’d love to become a competent plasterer too, as least so I could manage proper EWI jobs etc
    • CommentAuthordelprado
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2018
     
    Ewi jobs that should say

    My situation is that I am mid thirties with a 3 week old baby but my wife salary is god so I hope she can buoy me for awhile and in doing up my own house I already have a start kit wise in that I own nearly every Milwaukee power tool!!
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2018
     
    I swapped careers @40. I had always worked in wood, hobby wise, so going into cabinetwork wasn't a tremendous jump, skill wise. I was lucky early on when I got a job refurbishing the reception area and stairwell for a law firm;-- that's where the money was :wink:.:smile:. It gave me the impetus to invest in static machinery.
    I soon discovered however, to my disappointment, that the market and hence regular work was working in peoples houses refurbishing stairs and the like, and not making beautiful freestanding items of furniture for discerning clients, and I was hopeless at marketing my skills. Niche markets are exactly that,- their 'aint many around, add geographic factors and it's a very small clientele.
    I was lucky that I had two other small sources of income that kept the wolf from the door, but believe me it's hard work taking up "the tools" later in life.
    I wish you luck.
  3.  
    I agree with that, Owlman. I have to do whatever comes up just to keep the wolf from the door, and that involves a lot more hands-on stuff than the consultancy and surveying which should be my main work.

    Delprado, I too do a lot of wood-fibre and lime, as well as building timber post-and-beam buildings when I can - mainly small extensions and garden rooms. I also teach the Walter Segal method of post and beam building.

    Wood-fibre has come down a lot in price, but generally people still pay a lot more for me and wood-fibre than they would for A.N. Other and some composite board. Happily a fair few are happy to do so, but it's still a niche.

    I have (at an age sufficiently late that you'd think I had more sense) also started doing some EWI. Again, I cost more, but I am prepared to be a bit pernickety about gaps and detailing.
   
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