The day-to-day life of a builder: what it’s like to work in the construction industry

As a builder, no two days are the same. The type of work you will engage in can vary significantly, and so is the day-to-day life of a builder.

Most people will end up a part of the labour force someday. When the time comes to pursue a career, the path mapped out for them becomes more clear. You are able to understand what your job requires, what you need to do to succeed and how you can maximise your time outside of work to your advantage.


This is the case for pretty much every industry. You will have the opportunity to determine what your path is meant to be. For the purposes of this blog, this path is narrowed down to what you do on a day to day basis. By engaging in analysis from this perspective, it gives more insight into what someone can expect from working at a job everyday.


In the construction industry, builders are faced with new problems to tackle everyday. Whether this comes from working with other people or a technical point of view, it is important for aspiring builders to get in the groove and understand how they can improve their skills within the construction industry, mainly by taking it one step at a time (in this case, day to day).


As a builder, no two days are the same. The type of work you will engage in can vary significantly depending on the needs of the project and what is required. Your purpose may be so important that you will specialise in one particular area on a particular day, or on the other end of the scale you could be jumping between different tasks that do not have much similarity to each other. Ultimately, the life of a builder is intriguing as much as it is challenging. 


Thus, it is difficult to map out the typical day to day life of a builder because it is not that simple. Someone working in an office will have a usual routine they abide by, albeit with some deviations which are normal for everyone. But there is a clear structure of waking up, travelling to an office, and eventually leaving the office at a certain time. Builders do not have this type of structure. They usually are presented with unexpected situations which arise from the projects they must work on.


Despite this, we have developed a general itinerary that most builders will engage with, to help you understand what you can expect to face as a builder day by day.


1.Early start


As the saying goes, “the early bird gets the worm.” Builders are early risers, and this seems to be a commonality within the industry of those working hands-on. Some begin their days at 4:30am to 5am, but waking up usually occurs between 4am and 6am. A coffee to begin the day is an absolute must. Expect to see many tradies at your local McCafe searching for a well-needed energy boost!


One of the main reasons why builders begin so early is to maximise the availability of daylight. Working during the morning and daytime has many benefits. For one, it enables building crews to plan the day effectively, and mitigate any potential problems that could occur from mismanagement of time. When you have more time to work with, it only makes things easier in terms of making sure the day goes by smoothly. 


Another benefit of builders beginning early is that workers can be shifted more frequently throughout the day. You may notice that some construction works have no one working on them at a particular time of the day. This is because the rotation of workers has been done from morning till early afternoon. With an early start, managers have greater ability to chop and change staff needed at different times of the day, whilst not needing to create a full day schedule. 


2.Plans outlined for the day


Plans for a day in construction are usually mapped out in advance, but builders will usually have a spare itinerary written or memorised to make their day smoother. It can be very hectic when working in construction, and builders find that planning is the key to providing balance and smoothness when moving between work. 


Planning is also done within construction teams. A construction manager will lay out what needs to be done for the day, and the builders on site will need to cooperate for the allocated time they are shifted. As mentioned earlier, your job can vary from day to day. It is up to you to maintain consistency in performance and time management.


3.Jumping between projects


One thing that is especially typical of most builders is they usually do not work on one engagement at a time. This is because of the nature of the job. Indeed, many other jobs in other industries will have different engagements that people work on at disparate times throughout the day. The difference between that and a builder’s day, however, is that builders have to drive to specific locations to perform the work required. The nature of the job is physical and thus this is to be expected. As a builder, you will most likely spend copious amounts of time driving to different worksites on any day. However, this is something builders get used to as they gain more completed projects under their belt.


Projects can be very different which might make it difficult for builders to manage their workflow effectively. For example, on one project you might be working on a home renovation. The next job you travel to could be for a public purpose on a large scale such as a road or hospital. In their day to day work builders need to maintain a constant level of focus. This is because they never know what might hit them and how they will need to respond. 

day-to-day life of a builder


4.Attend meetings


Who doesn’t love meetings? Almost every facet of life will involve having a meeting, the only difference being the purpose, content and function of the meeting itself. Builders will engage in meetings to scope out tasks, plan ahead and delegate work. As a builder, it would help you if you were to jot down important points you can bring up to increase the clarity presented in a particular meeting. 


Meetings occur all the time in construction. Without them, the industry would surely suffer (as much as they can annoy us). What is important is to recognise that a meeting could take place at any time of the day. Even when you aren’t supposed to be working, you could be brought in to have a meeting depending on relevancy. Getting used to this will help you in furthering your building career.


5.Collecting materials and equipment


The act of carrying out this function is truly on a case by case basis for each member of the construction industry. But to speak in an overall sense, another thing that builders would engage in is getting the tools and materials they need to work onsite. From a tool standpoint, this is a builder’s bread and butter. It is what they absolutely need to do their job. Builders might get their tools from a variety of places. They might go to the headquarters of the construction company they work for. Or, they might get the tools from another worksite they were at. But more typically, they will obtain the tools from a hardware store or wholesaler. 


Materials are more of a difficult facet to break down. These would be brought into a construction site by a delivery person, or someone affiliated with the construction company. Materials can range from something small like short wood all the way to large steel beams. Again, it really depends on the company and who takes care of acquiring materials. 


Other equipment might be driving mechanisms or machines. These would be brought in for use from another location.


6.Finish up for the day


Winding down the day for a builder would feel very different to other people in the workforce. This is mainly because builders finish much earlier. As a builder, you will need to make sure necessary tools and equipment are put away and the worksite is left in a state whereby items cannot be easily stolen. 


7.Enjoy the rest of your day


And that is it! A day completed as a builder. Now you have the rest of the day to enjoy before starting back up again the next day.


It cannot be said how beneficial it is that construction workers begin and end early for work. From a life perspective, it gives them ample time to take advantage of the most important things in their life. This allows builders to foster stronger working lives from also having strong personal lives as well. Ultimately, this benefits you as a builder because you can build a more fulfilling career. 


 Parker Brent is a provider of courses in building and construction. For more details, enquire here.