Time for another BUILDhers report

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As we approach December, the Fletcher Living BUILDhers project at Whenuapai, Auckland, is on target and has been achieving far more than a build.

Fair to say, when the BUILDhers project was first conceptualised, there was the lofty goal of having women do all the work – right down to the last nail.

But with only a small percentage of women in the trades, the goal posts have had to shift a bit. Women have been doing the lion’s share of the work, but we’ve had to lean on our fantastic male colleagues for support and supervision in some areas.

While we’ve managed to find female plumbers, electricians, builders, and bricklayers – women are still very thin on the ground in some of our more specialised trades like cladding, for example.

Learning on the tools.

At times, the BUILDhers project has resembled more of a mentoring site than a building site, as Jasmin Lawrence, Site Manager, explains.

“Builds like this are more complex than you imagine. We’ve had more than 60 women involved in the BUILDHers project in some way over the last 6 months, and then over 48 key women on site doing the physical. With only 3.8% of women in the construction industry, we always knew it was going to be a big ask. What we’ve learnt is there are some more specialized areas where the numbers get even smaller. And because we’re treating this as a real build, with no favours – we can’t fly women with those rare skills in from different parts of the country. That’s the challenge and why high-lighting the skills shortage is so important. BuildHers has filled my cup in more ways than I could have imagined. It’s a platform for mentoring and training – where women are getting opportunities they can’t get on normal builds.”

Rather than just doing one task, teams are involved in multiple areas, working with other trades learning aspects they would never normally be exposed to. They are understanding the “why” far more – rather than the just “do”.

Builder Mel Henshaw shares her experience:

“For me this project has been incredible. We’re working at pace, it’s dynamic and we’re in with other trades and it’s a real journey to see where we can go.  As a woman in construction, we are lower in percentage than men, but I want to prove that we can do it, and work just as hard and just as well as our male counterparts.”

Mel’s not alone in that view and judging by all the feedback the team has been getting, there are plenty of young woman out there feeling inspired to now give building a go.

“I could write a book with all the positive comments, emails and phone calls I’ve been getting. It really has exceeded all expectations in terms of recruitment and interest and now there’s no holding back. We’re really looking forward to seeing the younger generation coming through and want other companies to start picking up the baton.” says Jasmin Lawrence.

On target for sale.

The exterior scaffolding has already started coming down on the BuildHers Project. A sign that the house is not that far away from the finish line. The project now moves on to the interior finish. The gib-stopping, the painting and after a well-earned Christmas break, the kitchen and bathrooms, wardrobes and whiteware will all be installed. Then it will be onto landscaping – getting the house ready for the spotlight and sale in late February.  But we’ll catch up on progress once more before then.

Have a good break from the BUILDhers team.

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