Name: Rhys McNay

Age: 27

Job: Carpenter

carpenter rhys mcnay 2

​“My dad used to be a carpenter. He built our house, an old weatherboard place in Bacchus Marsh, and I’ve kinda fallen into it. My grandfathers were carpenters as well. Being a tradie has always been there and I was always going to go into it.”

carpenter rhys mcnay 3

​“I’m active outside of work so I wanted to do something that would let me be moving around heaps. I play footy and I like going surfing and stuff so I like to be outside. It’s great to be doing that for work. It’s an attractive job. You get to be outside most of the day. And while it’s not really the best at the moment in winter, when it comes to summer and it’s 30 degrees every day and you get to be outside, it’s pretty appealing really.”

carpenter rhys mcnay 4

​“We get to site at about 7.30am and then we get our tools out and the day depends on what needs doing. Like today we are finishing off this frame because at some point it’s going to get plastered, so we are trying to get the house to a stage that it’s watertight, and that’s called the lock-up stage.”

carpenter rhys mcnay 5

“I work for the builder here. All the carpenters do, there’s a crew of us. We build the frame of the house. We pretty much do the job start to finish. From when there is nothing on the block at all, to the concrete slab stage until the finished product. The job we have going around the corner is nearly finished. To see it now from nothing when we started, when it was a run-down old place, is great.”

carpenter rhys mcnay 6

“What we are doing today is putting these noggins in. A normal house would have skirting but in this house there is none. It’s got like a shadow line, a two-mil space going around just above the floor level. They need to be able to screw their plaster into it — something really solid to mount it on. We are doing that now so that when it comes down the track, the plaster can be screwed in. This kind of stuff is set up to make things so much easier. This way there won’t be any problems in five years. If you’re not meticulous early on, in a few months down the track you’ll find that there are things you should have done that would have made your life easier. It’s the quality of build.”

carpenter rhys mcnay 7

​“Each job is different so you never know what to expect. This house is a brand new build so it’s pretty much going to be a big white box. We’ve got another job around the corner that is an extension and a renovation. The house is probably a hundred years old and the work is a lot more detailed, you’ve gotta be a lot more careful to integrate the old part of the house into the new. We’ve worked on a place in Fitzroy and it didn’t have a floor — it was dirt. An old weatherboard place. The outside walls were barely standing up. It’s now a really nice architectural house. You feel pretty satisfied at the end of the day. A lot of our jobs are worth like a million dollars, huge houses or renovations and they spend a lot of money, so the quality does have to be up there.”

carpenter rhys mcnay 8

​“The things you can only learn on-site with your hands as opposed to in a book are the tricks of the trade. In a book it will tell you how to do the job but there are little secrets that will make a job so much easier. Like if I wanted to size up some noggin but I didn’t want to get my tape out, I can pretty much measure it up with another piece of timber and mark the size of it. I don’t have to bother getting my tape out—it’s quicker and more efficient. It’s the things like that you learn that save time and are more accurate. I learn that stuff off the older guys that have been around a bit longer.”

carpenter rhys mcnay 9

“I did the Certificate IV in Building & Construction. When we finish our apprenticeships we get a Cert III but the Cert IV is the next step up. It helps you with quoting jobs and the process of a job from start to finish. The training helps you take that step up from just being a tradesman to being something more. It’s the communication stuff I have found the most useful. You have to write a lot of cover letters to different clients or when you’re foreman on the job. It helps you interact better.”

carpenter rhys mcnay 10

“I wanted to take the step-up to be more of a leading hand. So training helps with the process of going through a job and talking to clients, doing more than just rocking up to build something. The training helps with going through the process of the job and how to run it from start to finish. And in doing that you need to talk to different trades, architects and engineers, it helps you communicate with them a lot better, I’ve found.”

carpenter rhys mcnay 11

“We’ve got a guy here called Brodie. He’s the same age as me, maybe younger. He went to uni and did HR work but he got tired of being inside on a computer all day. He did a bit of labouring and got offered an apprenticeship and he has started with us in the last year. Being outside appealed to him. He loves being hands on. So he’s started that at a bit of an older age. It’s a common thing for a lot of these guys. They want to be outside doing something different every day. I’ve been doing this 10 years and I’m still learning little things that help so much more. In doing these different kinds of jobs I am doing new things I haven’t done before and always learning off of someone else.” Legend! Thanks Rhys.

Are you in a trade and ready to take the next step in your building & construction career? Builders Academy Australia are running Certificate IV & Diploma level qualifications in Building & Construction that are a stepping stone towards getting your builders license and registration. See our course pages for more information, or call us on 1300 LEGEND to speak to one of our consultants today.

CPC50220 Diploma of Building and Construction (Building)

CPC40120 Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building)