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Another New Guy With Career Questions

 
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Old 01-17-2019, 01:36 PM   #1
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Another New Guy With Career Questions


Am I crazy?

I got out of the Army about six month ago and have no prior construction experience. I have been working for an older general contractor since then. He is to old to do most of the hands on work. So I do most of the carpentry and other stuff between the trades. Mainly remodel work. He is more of a construction manager hiring subs for nearly everything.

He is hoping to partially retire. Meaning he would stop running the day to day operations soon and continue bidding and billing etc. while I take over running the jobs. Is it crazy of me to think I should say no so I can get some experience? He is too buys to teach me much.

I would not hire someone with my level of experience and skill. But this is a big opportunity to pass up and I could use the VA to get a Construction Management degree while I work. (I already have a BA in History, super useful, I know)

Long term, I'd rather be a professional carpenter than a jack of all trades GC/ handyman/ construction manager. Also without his knowledge and experience I can't realistically take over the entire operation for several years and he could fully retire anytime. Then I'm SOL. I also would have to be continuing to teach myself or trying to learn from subs on the job, which sounds like it would be a mess and unprofessional.

An alternative I'm heavily considering is getting some carpentry training in an apprenticeship (I'm 29) or a decent company that will hire me on and train me. All the folks I've spoken with say the local union is best for training, even the guys that left it. I really enjoy the carpentry work I've done. I could still do the Const Mgmt degree part-time too. After actually working in construction for a long time then I could decide to do some management stuff if I wanted to.
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Old 01-19-2019, 01:10 PM   #2
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Re: Another New Guy With Career Questions


Not a carpenter by trade but I do do baseboard, hang prehung doors, chair rail, carpentry repairs, etc. - You say this is "remodel work". I think it's safe to say that the kind of projects these typically are will dictate the answer to what you're asking. Obviously you probably don't want to go out tomorrow and finish out a staircase. And there are the basics and most importantly safety issues to consider..

I notice also you don't say whether your doing framing or finish carpentry.
A lot depends. Know anyone with a decent skill set you could pair up with on a daily basis at least at the beginning?

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Old 01-19-2019, 02:33 PM   #3
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Re: Another New Guy With Career Questions


The guys I know are either Union or don't want to train a new guy. The framing I do is nothing structural just non load bearing walls with some doors and repairing subfloors. I do the baseboards, window and door casing, pre-hung, slab doors and bi- food doors. I've had little to no instruction on the above. My first time framing I was told where to put walls n doors then left to figure it out while the boss went on vacation.

I think I need actual training before being able to work on my own.
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Old 01-19-2019, 04:06 PM   #4
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Re: Another New Guy With Career Questions


What kind or grade of remodeling is it?
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Old 01-19-2019, 05:50 PM   #5
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Re: Another New Guy With Career Questions


You will never learn faster than if someone will pay you to get in way over your head. That experience with him to goto in a jamb could advance your ability in a year or two what takes others a decade or possibly never acquire.

The real skill it takes to advance is to learn how to learn what you don't know and to make decisions as you go. Some people never get to a spot to acquire that skill.
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Old 01-19-2019, 10:01 PM   #6
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Re: Another New Guy With Career Questions


We are in homes that are usually $220-250k. Which is a bit above the STL metro area average. Quite a few bathrooms and a couple whole house renovations that I've been involved in.



Good insight Ed. My boss is planning on retiring before next fall. I am planning to stick with him until then no matter what I do. If nothing else to stop him from doing to much and getting hurt.
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Old 02-25-2019, 10:28 AM   #7
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Re: Another New Guy With Career Questions


Depends on your personality I would think. From your OP I can't tell if you really want to run the day to day jobs or not?

If you're still learning the essentials of carpentry, are you going to be good at continuing to learn the basics while also trying to learn to manage a job site? Think of management as just another trade. Do you want to learn carpentry while also becoming a plumber and also becoming an electrician? The more variety on your plate the slower you progress in any single discipline. Oh yeah... and you'll be trying to go to school again?

Last, does he know and understand your skill level and experience level? As long as you've been honest about that let him decide if you should be hired for that position or not. Maybe he sees something in you that you don't.
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Old 02-25-2019, 11:11 AM   #8
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Re: Another New Guy With Career Questions


I tell everyone to get hired on with the best builder in your area and learn everything you can. The go to a different top builder.

Even doing interior walls for remodels like you are, there are faster and slower ways of doing them, depending on the situation. Learn them all.
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Old 02-25-2019, 01:05 PM   #9
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Re: Another New Guy With Career Questions


Quote:
Originally Posted by hdavis View Post
I tell everyone to get hired on with the best builder in your area and learn everything you can. The go to a different top builder.

Even doing interior walls for remodels like you are, there are faster and slower ways of doing them, depending on the situation. Learn them all.
Yes, as many of the "quality builders" cut corners where they shouldn't. Or do more than other builders that are strong points. I would not recommend going with the larger mass builders.

I think maybe the best advice I can give is that if you're serious, get the management degree and go commercial. A different game, more organized and professional and less the many flighty operators that seemed to have entered the residential market. Or if residential consider a niche...

If I was by a big city I'd consider ADU's, even prefab. Which is or is about to be much underserved with the housing shortage. Even though you say you'd rather be a carpenter...gotta plan for the long term. Our bodies can only do this kind of work for so many years and then what? Or an unforeseen medical condition can well limit physical abilities...by coincidence I have a skilled carpenter friend that with the onset of prostate/middle age now might have to work at a hardware store. I'm trying to give you something to keep in mind.

- At the same time though there is no substitute for having hands on experience. Gives a deeper understanding of the process that those with degrees alone miss out on.

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Last edited by artinall; 02-25-2019 at 03:57 PM.
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