The At Home Apprentice on Builder Tips & Tricks, Finding Work & More – Insider Chat Podcast Ep 7


David catches up with Sean, the at-home apprentice, to discuss their past work together and current challenges. Sean shares his journey in the building industry and talks about finding work and managing his own business. They also touch on the importance of social media and the difficulties of pricing and managing labor. Sean is currently looking for new opportunities and considering expanding to other regions.


00:00 David introduces the podcast and his conversation with Sean

01:30 Sean talks about his popular Instagram account and how he started in the building industry

04:15 Sean shares his experiences during his apprenticeship and working for different companies

08:45 Sean discusses his worst job during his apprenticeship

11:20 Sean talks about starting his own business and the challenges he faced

14:45 David and Sean discuss the current state of the construction industry and the difficulty in finding work

18:10 Sean talks about the importance of social media and his experiences with Instagram

20:30 Sean shares his struggles with pricing and managing labor

25:15 Sean discusses his plans for the future and potential opportunities in other regions


– Sean’s popular Instagram account has helped him connect with other builders and even get job offers.

– Starting his building apprenticeship straight out of school, Sean took his time to learn and gain experience before feeling ready.

– Sean’s worst job during his apprenticeship involved having to dig out a backfilled block wall by hand due to a mistake in waterproofing.

– After working for different builders and gaining more responsibility, Sean decided to start his own business.

– Sean has faced challenges in finding work and managing his business, especially during quieter periods in the construction industry.

– Social media, like Instagram, has been a valuable tool for Sean to showcase his work and connect with potential clients and other builders.

– Pricing and managing labor have been ongoing challenges for Sean, as he balances pricing jobs competitively while ensuring his workers are motivated and efficient.


00:00 hey guys David here so just came down from Orland today catching up with Sean the at home Apprentice um going to do a little talk with him we actually priced this new build for him about 1 and a half years ago so helping him get Bank financed the bank requested a um Qs quote he’s a builder he put the price together but they didn’t let him do it so yeah just going to have a chinwag with him um he’s pretty popular on Instagram does a lot of like tips and tricks for guys so um yeah enjoy this podcast and throughout the video um

00:27 there is going to be a portion we putting a little pack in there for a free giveaway so make sure you stay and watch and find that and then you just got to put your email below so enjoy this [Music] one so we’re just down here in Wellington today with Sean the at home Apprentice um we actually priced this job up what a year and a half ago yeah probably something like that are we long are we on budget or have we it it’s over it’s over it’s over okay cool man um n sweet bro thanks for catching up today um give us a bit of a rundown

01:10 you’re obviously pretty popular on Instagram lot of stuff going on how did you start that when did you get into building kick it off uh I started my building apprenticeship straight out of school nice um the day I was meant to set a biology exam I started started work um and then yeah just went through my apprenticeship probably took maybe like five years I took quite a while and even when I got signed off I don’t think I was ready yeah uh but yeah just kept learning as I went and then uh worked for a guy I went overseas then came back

01:42 worked for a different guy and then he sort of went under so went out by myself went under common story that happens all the time yeah bit of a during your apprenticeship was it mainly just residential stuff commercial what were you like what kind of work were you do all residential like high res yeah it was really good and we did like mint houses real Builders I was working with man big company or small company no pretty small maybe like the max it got up to was maybe like 10 yeah sweet and how did you find them how did you get

02:11 your first job uh just uh rugby coach at school yeah man at the rugby dinner he asked my mom what I was up to and he said he doesn’t know he might uh look for a buildingship yeah and then the next day he he just got his friend to call me yeah yeah I was just like yeah okay yeah what was your uh worst job you did during your appren you reckon oh it must be a day must be a black day bro yeah well the first like two weeks I don’t know what happened but they backfilled a block wall yeah and then I had to dig it out by hand because

02:43 they hadn’t waterproofed it it was a nightm I was just sing forever and I just kept caving in all the P mle yeah yeah yeah how many uh was was it just you or was it a couple others that’s just me oh h no good um so so you did that one did you get qualified with that that first boss or move to another one yeah noif cool and then what did you do straight after that just stayed with him yeah um uh stayed with him but I was always sort of like you know the the boy sort of thing like The Apprentice so and I sort

03:15 of just fell into that role I would just ask people what to do never really took responsibility for reading the plans or anything yeah and then I went overseas and when I came back I sort of realized I’m not going to be a rugby player yeah yeah yeah so I uh I sort of started taking it more seriously told that boss that I wanted to take more seriously yeah so he got me running a few jobs and then I I left to go to this other company just because I know something different I’ve been with that guy my whole time yeah was it giving you jobs

03:43 to run or like did you have a job that you could yeah so I I was doing um like a pretty cool build in Brooklyn yeah um and I sort of left halfway through that yeah um which was probably niggly for him but yeah bro you got to look after number one man been day but you would have done what you got qualified with him and then gave him a year or two yeah yeah I think yeah maybe like two or three years oh bro that’s like return of service man that’s done um so then next crowd you work for what were you doing

04:11 there uh yeah I was running jobs that was a bit of a everything I was running jobs and then we went down to Christ Church like I’d go down for like 2 weeks at a time and we were doing slabs he got on um yeah all that um just for slabs yeah then we went to for a bit I’d travel up there sometimes but he’s just uh that guy he was a good guy but he um was a bit of a loose unit yeah yeah so he ended up uh sort of telling us that wasn’t him it was shutting down um so at that point I was like I can even

04:49 go out by myself yeah we had a kid on the way but I was like if I don’t do it now yeah you never take the leap I suppose that’s a a huge thing for everyone everyone I mean I get questioned a lot and they’re like oh just gone out of my own blah blah blah and I’m like man it’s not all like sunshine and rainbows not just driving around in big Utes and drinking coffee bro there a bucklo of stress there um just couple things there so obviously your first job you kind of were really good at the building side you were just

05:17 building the second company you were was that like more like management organizing running kind of stuff I would say I wasn’t a good Builder when I left that other guy and I just slowly made a lot of mistakes and got B and B yeah nice um but that second job now I was still on the tools but I was like a foreman sort of thing and then yeah I’ve never really just been like running a job solely like in my first place when he started he got me running jobs the boss would organize all the materials he’d just come on site and we sort of

05:47 talk and then he’d get everything there he’d organize subbies when they came I just sort of tell them what to do and stuff like that yeah sweet so you definitely think maybe you learned more of yeah like the organizing and business side on the second job a little bit more but honestly I learned it all just as soon I went out as soon as I went out on I was like Jesus yeah cool man work what did your uh what did your first kind of week look like when you went out on your own were you stressed were you pretty

06:12 good how did you get your first job oh so when I went on my own a guy who used to coach me in rugby he was going overseas and he had two employees oh man and I was friends with his son so he said take these two guys I’ll sort you out some work yeah and I was like yeah okay um cuz I didn’t have any work yeah yeah so we he they were doing a GJ Gardener house um so we started that and we ended up leaving that like halfway through why is that bro why the laugh oh it was just a it was a mess like it was uh out of square and mistakes made

06:47 yeah bro it was a real shambles um but then we left there and I and then that was basically the only work we had yeah so then I was just racing around we painted a office building like uh inside at night one time um for about a week Builders gone pain yeah yeah we just did everything yeah um but then we got into doing these schools with a company like subcontracting and we did a bunch of schools with them man was that full contract for you guys or were you just labor La say it’s hard to get in and do that contract stuff for schools yeah the

07:18 schools are really tight yeah yeah yeah sweet so um he left you a couple jobs they didn’t really pan out too well did you still have his two guys at and then you were just what painting did some labor school stuff and then yeah and how did it just eventuate from there cuz you’re you’ve got eight dudes now no no way no no they all gone everyone yeah yeah so so um well yeah a year and a half ago you to eight and then I started doing this car a housing job and I it was just when this started yeah so I had them all on that side and I

07:54 sort of thought they could just take care of it yeah but that was I didn’t manage it well enough and there was no probably no real Direction like no one clear leader yeah okay there’s three builders on it and maybe four apprentices yeah and uh yeah it was my own fault I didn’t give them enough Direction what how to do it and it the hours got blown out a bit and then um there’s a bit of issue with payment yeah yeah so then I had to tell the boys like basically um I don’t know if they’re

08:28 going to pay me so I I won’t be to pay you so I told them to look for other jobs yeah one or two guys found jobs yeah one guy went out hisone another guy um found a job then I had to let go of another guy and I was down to four yeah four plus me and then I’ve just had to let other guy go a contractor but still it sucks you know let people go yeah it’s tough man well yeah I mean we have literally gone through like the best cycle for construction I think had like 13 or 14 years with no like real down

09:00 kind of feel like we’re in it now but um yeah so you what had what most your boys well you and there were a few boys on this place at the moment eh uh yeah I’ve tried to keep this just me yeah just because uh it’s expensive having guys here yeah absolutely and I need to keep money coming in cuz initially the plan was those seven guys are bringing money in and I’m doing this yeah for sure but as soon as I lost guys it was like Jesus Christ so this had to go on hold yeah and I had to finish till a certain stage

09:29 on that K order housing job yeah and then uh we’ve just been sort of scratching around around yeah um cuz so the one guy did you have all your eggs in that one basket obviously with that one job and he didn’t pay that was pretty much it yeah yeah you got to have backup stuff I know yeah it’s a big learning big massive learning yeah so what’s the what’s the plan after this like what are you going to what do you think you’re going to um well I’ve spoken to you about the maintenance stuff like that’s constant

10:00 work you know so trying to get into a bit of that yeah and like Insurance stuff I’ve been doing a little bit of that nice but it’s right now it’s just all uh real small stuff like go around and put some ballards up and door handles now lots of people are in that position at the moment man like there’s so much stuff like we’ve had um yeah the amount of people where group housing jobs have dropped so much like there was talking to one of our qes in Christ Church he used to plaster like I won’t

10:26 say the name but big group housing company they used to plaster like 150 houses a year and this year they’ve got zero so like what do you do with eight dud like eight dudes they do two a week and it’s like what do you you know what I mean so I don’t know I think it can be like uh good and bad with like a reset time the good thing is maybe heaps of guys that you know shouldn’t really be in the industry will off but then people that are good yeah it might be tough to get through but when it does

10:52 go through it’ll be like cool man you’re the one that stayed around so yeah like when I when we got into that schooling stuff it was just super easy and I the whole time I knew like this is I should I shouldn’t really be doing this cuz it was like you’re basically an employee like you just turn up they give you what to do they organize everything were you on charge up there so you just clipping the ticket on six to eight guys um and it was really easy so I always in the back of my head I knew like this is

11:18 probably not great I’m not learning anything um and then yeah when that ended like I was racing around trying to find work and then I found another gig sort of like that yeah um it was charge up um hey guys just a little break in the podcast there so obviously we’re catching up with Shan um we’re pretty much just discussing how work is drying up at the moment and getting a pipeline full can be quite tough we have put together like a four-piece master class from how you can find jobs how you can present how you can quote following and

11:47 negotiating if you drop your email down in the comments below here we’re going to send you a free link to that pack it’s only going to be available for 2 weeks and then we’re going to start charging for it so write your email down below we’ll send you a link so you can take a look at it it’s 35 minutes long and it’s gold content back to the podcast how are you finding these jobs like everyone’s fascinated by how you find work like h how’ i find that one that was a guy I played rugby with he

12:12 was running this big job yeah a lot of it’s yeah been through rugby context really yeah nice bro that’s that’s the big thing I say like um yeah I think you’ve got to have yeah like the sales of marketing and doing the online stuff but at the end of the day if you can yeah if you know people you’re a part of like a community or a club and you shake hands you can do really well through that yeah yeah yeah um your Instagram is obviously pretty good do you get jobs out of that or what do that mainly it’s

12:36 mainly Builders following no well I’ve met a few guys who have got me jobs like um yeah a guy he used to play rugby in Wellington I played against him a bit um but he runs a really successful company in Wellington so he’s been given a few jobs but he doesn’t have the capacity to do it so then he’ll pass it to me that’s been really handy um and that was through Instagram that we sort of started talking yeah sweet man um but nothing really direct to me okay cool but it’s just kind of people know who

13:02 you are you get a good reach like I’ve seen a few times brought for me and there you go few free be I’ll tell you what bro the old Tik Tok for me man is pretty funny get a few people going hey it’s that Tik Tok dude um no but the old like it’s good it’s good reach that Social Media stuff like do you see your um like you’ve had a few um have you had a few videos that have gone quite viral or quite yeah like 300,000 VI and then you notice your like monthly search bar it shows you like a

13:33 total have you seen that one I don’t even pay attention to that I have to show you man but that’s like something that’s crazy like organic Impressions which is yeah I think for business now is crazy yeah well that is like as soon as you get one that gets popular you do another one and that’s popular like yeah as soon as you get one that catches like a bit of attention then your next ones are they must be likeone as well yeah did you have anyone kind of tell you to get into that or was that just a you like mucking around thing

14:00 uh I was sort of listening to um this stuff and now talking about the knowledge economy like um basically that’s the new economy is like um yeah like everyone knows something that other people will find valuable that you just take for granted so then I had to apprentices start and they said they’ been on YouTube looking for like information and uh they said it’s all American so I was like I’ll just start this page um sort of just showing real basic stuff for new guys and uh yeah it sort of took

14:35 off and um like I have an idea to make like an online course but yeah it’s just been super stressful of all this Andy and everything you’ve got a bit going on but um you are right though and sometimes you think um you think what you know you’re like oh this is so basic no one’s going to find it valuable yeah exactly and then sometimes when I’m trying to think of stuff I’m like should I do that and I’m like no everyone everyone should know that then you make a video on you’re like oh my

14:58 God these people don’t even know this you know so yeah that’s the that’s the crazy bit about it that yeah like I’ve done videos like like just naming framing members yeah different types of nails and it’s funny people oh yeah that’s real helpful like and it’s sort of stuff that um people feel stupid asking yeah like I try to think of stuff like that because I know what it’s like you feel like an idiot so you should sort of know it but if you don’t know it you don’t know it

15:25 you know yeah exactly right man um do you get like uh just back on like people knowing you through Instagram I mean do you get other build you’ve been past a few jobs from rugby but like you must have other builders following and liking your stuff and being like hey need a labor push here or uh I got like offered to be like a site manager for some company yeah but I don’t want I don’t want to work recently or n this was a while ago this was a while ago yeah probably last year or something yes I don’t really and I had a bunch of guys

15:54 there so I don’t really want to ditch them all yeah um a little bit like you guys have said um if you need work let me know yeah which I have reached out now but it’s all quite all kind of De there um when you were like with all the stuff you were doing mainly charge up were you ever doing any fixed price stuff over the last few years or all kind of charge up that Kong order housing was um fixed price that was fixed price yeah just like jobs I’ve quoted we’ve done small little jobs like um we just did a reclad

16:26 and a deck that was all fixed price yeah sweet man and did you obviously I mean I’ve done a couple little small things for you but you just how do you put all that together you doing a spreadsheet or you just writing it down and oh bro I’m a shocker like I just I just have a book and I write it all down yeah like I don’t like using computers for some reason I probably need to get that’s why I put a thing on Instagram about I need a something that you can write on but then it says as it a as a Word

16:52 document there is something like that um but uh yeah I’ll just write it all down but the hardest thing like the materials is easy you just go through it and work it out but the hardest thing is I find really hard is labor labor like pricing for other people yeah because I think I can do it in a certain time yeah but then other guys don’t seem to be able to do it that fast you yeah it’s tough bro I think you’ve almost got to think how long will it take you and then you you know you’re the business owner you’re

17:18 trying to make money and then you’ve almost got to times it by two or allow double yeah um but then yeah I’ve done that before and then people are like n this is too expensive too expensive so it’s Yeah It’s tricky to like a balance yeah between pricing for my guys and then being cheap enough that people get the job it’s really yeah it is it is tough man like you’ve got to I almost think of like the stuff with hours and negotiating you’ve almost got to put together the whole scenario it’s like

17:47 okay do we need this job at the moment can I price a little bit higher um to allow for that or if we are stretched maybe I do have to like reduce my hours cuz I need to work for The Gap like it’s the most horrible process yeah yeah um I just want also another thing that I find well like because I have talked about on Instagram before um like trying to work efficiently and faster and people have messaged me saying um like what’s in it for them to work faster like at the end of the day there’s just

18:18 more work for them yeah there’s so I don’t know it’s it’ be interesting to find out how people um sort of motivate their workers or like incentivize that yeah I’ve talked about like Bon with the guys before yeah but did they drive them or uh not really not really no but I don’t know if it was just unrealistic or or they were pushing really hard but they just couldn’t meet it yeah um yeah I think that’s how those group housing companies lock up those rates man cuz they they I mean if they have you know

18:48 200 houses a year and they’re going over on labor you know 10 hours on every single little component they just lost shitloads of money yeah um yeah I always talk about that man like pricing higher on smaller stuff and I I did a video like 4 days ago on that M like how you can lose money on material runs oh my God man I got some Heroes commenting on Tik Tok like oh why should we give a unorganized Builder a job blah blah blah I’m like mate it’s called unforeseen in my circumstances you can’t you know

19:16 stand with so yeah that’s niggly man so you’re doing the majority of the work here at the moment eh finishing up yeah yeah yeah um yeah just doing finishings right now he IND doors yeah sweet man um hoping to have someone in here like a tenant end the March yeah yeah cool man and then are you just like looking at other jobs in between Etc yeah I’ve priced a few jobs like a little recl um another little indoor job like a few walls and doors yeah but yeah that’s about it are you managing to talk are

19:46 you talking to other guys at the moment and seeing what’s happening in well yeah yeah just on Instagram guys have missed me saying been struggling as well it’s getting quiet yeah um yeah there’s a few guys like it sounds like stuff will pick up but people have stuff lined up later in the year but just right now it’s getting through that you know yeah I think I don’t know if it’s going to be like that end of uh March start of April like Financial year stuff but um yeah I think the best thing I don’t know like uh

20:13 you’ve obviously found work through rugby um Word of Mouth do you use like Facebook groups or stuff like that have you tried stuff like that I have yeah just recently I have yeah no yeah yeah yeah have you don’t have a website yet do you no yeah well I don’t have a website that’s the thing like I can’t I know it’s like it’s tough being quiet but I it’s my own fault you know yeah no I think um oh dude 100% it’s like when when times are good you don’t have to do any marketing

20:42 thata it’s been like when times are good you do need to think uh and a lot of people don’t do this but you’ve got to think okay well how can I use this time and the resources of money to be like when it’s not yeah that’s a big learning that I Tak from this how do I do this man yeah have you thought about like any other regions or anything a little well I spoke to a guy the other day about up in uy yeah which is probably like an hours drive yeah sweet um see they potentially work out there yeah which all the guys live in

21:12 poor so it’s not too far for them y sweet so I might look at that but um and it’s also against the traffic which is good yeah yeah that’ be a nightmare right is there like um is there a lot of stuff like is it Wellington Central this area kind of or where are they building all the new houses around here like is it out Coast Co yeah um all there’s a whole lot of new houses going there um because of the like new Motorway obviously get everywhere yeah yeah yeah yeah there’s a lot of places yeah going out around

21:41 there yeah sweet man that all good um in regards to sub trades obviously have you had a conversation with sub trades and that that you’ve been using like plumbers spark are they all is it all very similar combo at the uh well my plumber he’s got like a good group of builders that he does a lot of work for yeah um he’s a funny guy so yeah people love working on him yeah yeah so he’s he’s quite busy yeah uh my brother’s just a Sparky and they’re really busy um he’s just doing this one

22:11 yeah um but they do like they’ve got big commercial contracts yeah yeah yeah so they’re um they’re always pretty busy yeah yeah yeah sweet man no that’s all good um rough off the top of your head rapes do you know roughly what uh how many squares and bedrooms do this place uh three bedroom three bedrooms what’s grand for it’s like 120 120 what was do you do you know rough cost what you got for painting interior and exterior here yeah well those a cheap price for the painting inside and outside yeah I

22:45 think it was cheap uh what was it it’s 28 grand 28 grand yeah that’s not bad I just got quoted 15 in M for small smaller than this but yeah inside nut outside only and plaster inside waiting for the paint but yeah Plumbing obviously your mate did that one we that coming at roughly uh was maybe like 25 Grand but that’s not including all the sewer connection and stuff like that yeah because um that’s been a bit of a disaster yeah yeah so who that one up was that on the council how well I had a big conversation with the lady

23:21 on the phone I said whose fold is this like who’s responsible for this yeah cuz it’s been consented yeah and uh so our designer has drawn they said yeah it’s okay but then it doesn’t actually work in real life so I said surely that’s on you guys she said yeah one of our Engineers has checked it over and missed it I said well that’s on you she said no we don’t take responsibility for that right well yeah so they don’t take any responsibility for mistakes they make you know but they

23:44 clipping the ticket asking for money along the way and then you can’t start until it’s done n yeah yeah what what’s uh apart from counseling that what’s some of like the worst trades or hardest trades to find or down in Wellington worst people to deal with Bicky on short notice I’ve can’t I’ve always heard biy uh I don’t think so well I just use this one guy Ben he’s masonry um he seems he’s busy but he’s always seemed to um get to us yeah yeah yeah yeah sweet man

24:13 no that’s all good all right bro we might catch up and uh do this convo again in 6 months eh how does that sound yeah hopefully it’s still going yeah I’m sure you will be bro all right man thanks for match cool nice man

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