The stories that come out of the construction industry never cease to amaze me. Its almost as if this industry attracts the sort of characters that should star in situation comedies and drama shows! We have certainly met some very interesting people in our time. When building a house the process and journey of the start to the finish will almost always involve various types of people.
…. And it will always create some sort of shenanigans at some point!
And it is the roofing contractors that seem to like a practical joke more than anyone. Of course, the easy targets for this kind of humour are always readily available in the form of young roof and building apprentices.
In fact the roofers tend to pick on other trades and set out to publically humiliate a young electrician, plumber or their favourite – a bricklayer.
A couple of years ago we were working on one of the most incredible projects we have been involved with. It was a 8 double bedroom mansion, with tennis court, indoor swimming pool and it was massive. At any one time there could have been up to 40-50 contractors working onsite. The roofing design itself compromised of 12 different pitched sections which all had to interweave with valleys, gutters and complex ridge structures.
Every day for 18 months this place was a hive of activity, a breeding ground for the roofers who wanted to lighten up the months by pranking poor unsuspecting bricklayers.
One of the many days that stick in the memory was the “Cheltenham Race day”. During the racing festival a lot of the lads liked to spend dinner breaks nipping into the nearby town to gamble their hard earned wages on “certain winners”. At the time we were going through a very wet period, it had rained consistently for a week or two. This had caused very large puddles around the building site, most of which were a few inches deep.
On the edge of the area that was being prepared for the tennis court a deep hole had been dug to house some sewage works. Because of its position at the bottom of a slope the rainwater completely filled it up. This hole was about 4 feet deep, full of dirty, muddy rainwater.
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Peter, our roofing foreman at the time, decided to liven up the afternoon by arranging a “horse race” of our own. Along with a few of the senior bricklayer’s onsite they had constructed a course using timbers as jumps. He had run about 3 races between the various trade’s people on the building site, getting them to pretend they were horses and going over the jumps. Some of the jumps had puddles as the landing area representing the “water jumps”.
It was all light hearted humour and small bets were put on each race. But the final race was to have a special ending. Unbeknown to one young lad called Paul, the last jump had been moved to the edge of the sewage hole. The landing area was now a 4ft deep mud bath, which to be fair did just look like any other puddle, had you not have seen how they had maneuvered the last jump!
The funny thing was, just before the race, Paul had been bragging how there was no way the older electricians could win against him. Even putting his money where his mouth was and betting £10 on his own victory with a few of the eager spectators! The only person on the whole site who didn’t know his fate seemed to be the poor lad himself.
It was great entertainment for everyone, Peter in particular, was really enjoying the show. The contestants in Paul’s race perfectly went along with the racing and letting Paul take the lead by a few metres. The final jump into the pit was filmed and posted all over the builders, roofers, plasterers, carpenters and construction social media pages and you tube. It was so well done and such funny viewing that a few months later, a modern social news channel got hold of it. When they posted it the video went viral and ended up getting over 2 million views!
Just goes to show that our building and construction work is not just about precision, skill and hard labour. We do like to create a fun working environment for ourselves. We get immensely proud of what we do and that job in particular was a master piece of engineering and design. The finished building was incredible, but it will always be remembered by us for the Cheltenham day race and the poor fate of a young brick layer!
In our roofing industry, along with the labour and skill that goes into our work we have to make sure that the customer is kept in the loop about the progress of the job at all times. We need to tell them when the materials have been ordered, how long till the end of a particular stage in the development of the project as well as making sure we achieve an end date.