Contractor Talk - Professional Construction and Remodeling Forum banner
1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am interested in hearing how long it took, in employers and maybe time, before you found the right job/employer for you. I have been in construction for about 4 years now, the past year full time. In that time I have been had to bounce around. At first because the only "full time" gigs I could get were as a sub/1099. I am with a contractor full time now as a carpenter, but the more time goes on, the less carpentry we do. We have tons of roofs, a few siding gigs, and only 1 garage, and one dormer this summer, the rest has been painting, and more roofs. He knew when I started I was really looking for full time home where I would be able to continue to learn my trade and get more experience.

Am I being whiny/picky by thinking maybe it is time to move on? Or is this normal? There are only 3 other employees, one is the lead carpenter, one the lead roofer, and the other is just general labor.
 

·
Radical Basement Dweller
Joined
·
29,306 Posts
Have you spoken to the owner of your concerns? Asking him/her may give you some answers.
 

·
I'm The BOSS
Joined
·
1,904 Posts
stick it out, If he's a general contractor, then that's what happens.

Some project come in groups, roof, siding , decks, etc.

stick it out, learn all you can. Then decide what your next step will be,
not sure of the market in your area, here the rule is,
If your good your busy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Robie: I have, and I guess that is where some of my frustration is coming from. I mentioned it once mid last month and we talked about it late last week.

jls: I agree that roofing and siding are part of being a solid well rounded carpenter.

A little more about my conversations with the boss. And yes, maybe I am just being a whiny new guy. If that is the case, I can take that and keep on working. But here is the rest of my story, I didnt want to sound like a complainer, but maybe I am. The first time he didnt have much to say other than I was doing good, my skills are strong, just need more experience so I can get more speed. This week when we talked and I asked about the 2 big remodels that he had talked about. He said he had to pass on them cause he didnt know where to start with numbers. Things have really slowed down in the past week, next week we have a small ranch roof, after that... Noone is sure. It gets slow I get it. But if we are this slow, this early, and roofing and siding are our bread and butter. Winter in Wisconsin is going to be long.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
jaydee: I know things can go in spurts. And at this point I am sticking it out. I had not done many roofs until this season. Now I have a least 15 more under my belt. When I do get work with the lead carpenter I learn a lot. So I like part.

But we are already getting slow. And I agree if your good, your busy. I havent had trouble finding work, if I am willing to 1099 it all the time. But I dont want to. I dont think it should be that hard to find a reputable contractor who has work and is running guys the right way. I have started to put some feelers out some of the lumber yards. Not sure where else to look at this point.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
153 Posts
Robie: I have, and I guess that is where some of my frustration is coming from. I mentioned it once mid last month and we talked about it late last week.

jls: I agree that roofing and siding are part of being a solid well rounded carpenter.

A little more about my conversations with the boss. And yes, maybe I am just being a whiny new guy. If that is the case, I can take that and keep on working. But here is the rest of my story, I didnt want to sound like a complainer, but maybe I am. The first time he didnt have much to say other than I was doing good, my skills are strong, just need more experience so I can get more speed.This week when we talked and I asked about the 2 big remodels that he had talked about. He said he had to pass on them cause he didnt know where to start with numbers. Things have really slowed down in the past week, next week we have a small ranch roof, after that... Noone is sure. It gets slow I get it. But if we are this slow, this early, and roofing and siding are our bread and butter. Winter in Wisconsin is going to be long.
This throws a big flag for me. If he doesn't know where to start on bidding jobs, chances are he's not gonna last long. I think you should put the feelers out and keep your options open.
 

·
Livin the dream...
Joined
·
6,624 Posts
Keep developing your skills. If you're skilled, fast, and dependable you will become a precious commodity to builders/remodelers in your area. It just takes time.

I had to cut ties with a couple different contractors/remodelers before I settled down into what I'm doing now which is self employment. It took ten years to get here.
 

·
Kowboy
Joined
·
2,453 Posts
If someone would pay me as much as I pay myself and let me do the jobs the way I want them done, I might go to work for them.
 

·
Particulate Filter
Joined
·
4,430 Posts
jaydee: I know things can go in spurts. And at this point I am sticking it out. I had not done many roofs until this season. Now I have a least 15 more under my belt. When I do get work with the lead carpenter I learn a lot. So I like part.

But we are already getting slow. And I agree if your good, your busy. I havent had trouble finding work, if I am willing to 1099 it all the time. But I dont want to. I dont think it should be that hard to find a reputable contractor who has work and is running guys the right way. I have started to put some feelers out some of the lumber yards. Not sure where else to look at this point.
Lets look at it from your bosses perspective. New guy complains about roofing and painting. Oh here we go again, this one wants to play at making cool stuff and learn on my dime instead of work on profitable predictable repeatable production work. I think his hours just got a little shorter.

Rather than telling him you dont want to do a given task, why dont you come up with a marketing plan, and bidding scheme, to obtain the kind of work you want. Pound the pavement after hours, produce craigslist ads, print marketing materials etc... once you make it rain you get a cut of what you produce.

I bring this up with any employee who complains about hours or type of work. You know how many actually try solve their own complaints? Zero. They want what they want and youre supposed to give it to them. Great, one more leech to throw on the heap along with the licensing board, bonding agency, insurance company, city state count and federal taxman, inspector, traffic cops and customer who all want just a few percentage points, a small fee, a couple minutes, a form to fill out etc etc.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Metro,

I appreciate your insight. I am pounding the pavement after work. Just got home from wrapping up a deck job, on my own time. I am working full time there and yes trying to make a few dollars rain my way after hours. But I know I have long way to go. I have had my own business in past, 2 of them actually. I know what it takes to be the boss. I dont really want the headache right now. I am sticking it out. I have not said I don't want to do the work. Just not sure if there is more in current employers play book than this. If there is not, that is fine for him. But I do want to learn to be more than a 2 trick pony.

I am still working for a few guys on "2nd shift" as a sub and getting a few jobs myself. Guess I was just whining. Dont sweat it, I will stick it out, keep learning, and work my butt off. When I get good enough, someone will notice and things will fall into place.

Thanks everyone for putting up with my bit*hin'. I'm done.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,666 Posts
Cowboy:

What is it exactly that you are interested in doing? Framing, finish carpentry, siding?
Many subcontractors here specialize in one particular area. We do about 70% framing, 15% remodel/demo, and about 15% exterior trim. There are probably similar subs near you. Search online, call a local HBA, or post something to facebook or Craigslist.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,651 Posts
I know union carpenters, 25 years at it and they still have to take the good with the bad. One day they might be framing, next day siding and another day doing fine finish carpentry. It comes with the territory.

The same goes if you're on your own you can't always pick and choose only parts of project you want to do.

It sounds like you need to look for another employer or work for yourself. Because the guy you're working for now doesn't seem to have a clue if he doesn't know where to start when bidding a job.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Warren: I like framing, finish, remodels, decks. I think for now, I am going to keep plugging along where I am. Learn what I can here. Keep my eyes and ears open. Network when I can after hours and push harder on my own side jobs. Just not sure I am ready to be on my own yet. I know I have a lot to learn yet, but as was said before... If your good your busy, and even when it got slow last winter it didn't take me long to line something up. Maybe I just need to keep subbing myself out and learn the trade that way.

I really do appreciate everyone's advice. Even if I sound arrogant in my replies, I don't want them to come out that way.
 

·
Particulate Filter
Joined
·
4,430 Posts
Metro,

I appreciate your insight. I am pounding the pavement after work. Just got home from wrapping up a deck job, on my own time. I am working full time there and yes trying to make a few dollars rain my way after hours. But I know I have long way to go. I have had my own business in past, 2 of them actually. I know what it takes to be the boss. I dont really want the headache right now. I am sticking it out. I have not said I don't want to do the work. Just not sure if there is more in current employers play book than this. If there is not, that is fine for him. But I do want to learn to be more than a 2 trick pony.



Thanks everyone for putting up with my bit*hin'. I'm done.

Thats very cool that youre working for yourself after hours. The point though is that if youre already on a team try to help it grow and improve and you will have input on the direction it takes. But if you only look out for yourself dont be surprised if your boss does the same.

On the the other hand, the people who are not content to stop learning and are always looking to grow always end up doing well. Good luck.
 

·
Head Grunt
Joined
·
3,270 Posts
Doesnt matter what part of the field your in you will end up doing other tasks to either keep the customer happy or to keep busy. I try to stick with electric but around here you need to diversified or starve. I dabble in almost everything except plumbing only because i hate it.

Say i install a GFCI on the side of a vinyl sided home. I take the time to remove the siding and install the proper J-block, re-install the siding and finish the GFCI circuit. Then the customer is happy to see good clean work asks about you repairing some siding damage and even residing the shed or garage? Do you pass on it or write an estimate and pick up another weeks work?

Learn all you can, this will make you a better and more knowledgeable contractor down the road. Knowledge is power.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top