Tairua builder Jeff Turner has worked nearly 50 years in the trade and is now eyeing retirement.
He has seen many changes over those years, including rules and tools, and he's not happy with some of them.
This amiable bloke considers himself "just the average builder", having been involved in a wide variety of projects ranging from toilets on conservation land, to power stations, homes and everything in between.
"I started my building apprenticeship in 1973, a time when it was not uncommon to get a kick up the bum for doing something stupid. And a new boy on the job would be sent to buy a skyhook, rubber hammer or tin of striped black and white paint - much to the amusement of others.
"My first week's pay was $23. I remember installing Batts using a stick and the dusty environment created when working with Fibrolite. We didn't think about wearing masks or ear muffs or even sunscreen then.
My first week's pay was $23.
"Our Bible was the NZBS 3604 – a fantastic document which still exists in an updated version and funnily hasn't changed that much. But because of specific design requirements it's not used as much now.
"In the early days builders were trained in many facets of the industry, including glazing, roofing, drawing of plans, concrete laying, scaffolding and block-laying, as well as maintenance of tools. Most of these are no longer recognised as part of a builder's training.
"In those days apprentices were taught to look after their tools, which were expected to last a lifetime. We sharpened the teeth of our own saws with crimpers that re-set the angle of every second tooth. And our building team shared one rattlely old skill saw."
While learning the trade he came across some funny words, like a quirk – a little gap between timbers. Then there are things called nogs - in the South Island they are known as dwangs - which are put between studs in framing.
During his apprenticeship New Zealand switched from Imperial measurements to metrics.
Thirty years later he worked in Hawaii and had to revert back to feet and inches.
"I remember when we worked in feet and inches we would ask someone cutting the timber to give us "a 24 inch full" or "24-inch bare" – full meaning a little more and bare a little less. But now, working with millimetres, measurements are more exact, so there's no need to indicate a bit more or less."
Jeff says with the onset of more complicated builds, the need for designs by engineers and architects brought greater expense, something he sees as sometimes an unnecessary part of the process.
"There was a time when the building industry did not particularly shine. Different designs, monolithic cladding systems, untreated timber, parapet roofs, internal gutters - to mention a few – contributed to issues with weather tightness."
Since then the document named E2 Weather Tightnesss Solutions has become important in finding solutions for alternative builds.
"But I do believe there's a lot to be said for time-proven cladding systems and good soffit cover. Design has almost been taken out of the builder's hands, with professional designers and architects taking over that realm. This has been the result of complex council requirements and the need to have a design licence."
Another big change has been the licensing of all trades.
"While I feel that it has proved to be reasonably successful, this has caused huge disruption to a system that was served well by tradespeople and others with many years of practical experience. And it's come at huge cost to builders and clients alike. The Licensing Commission has developed an industry of its own!"
Another gripe is health and safety.
"We were always taught that you are your own safety supervisor. If you don't think it is safe then don't do it. But while attending a seminar [builders are now required to do this] I was told that this attitude was no longer relevant.
"We need to work in a controlled environment, I was told. Well, someone should tell that to the instigators of the latest TV meerkat campaign.
"We now have an over-regulated organisation that needs to encourage common sense, not control with over-the-top regulations."
Jeff reckons his biggest frustration regarding the building industry is with local councils.
"Actually, I like to call them rock-throwers because I'm sure they think their job is to make ours more difficult. The Resource Management Act and district council requirements have become a costly thorn in the side of the building industry as well as in land development.
"When the licensing regime was implemented, builders were told it would give us more responsibility, therefore reducing council inspections and control. But, if anything, the opposite has happened.
"When I started in this trade there were three inspections required for construction of a house. Today you are lucky if you get less than 12-15 inspections!
"Our Government is always stating that we need more affordable housing, and coming up with solutions that simply won't work. Building today is very costly and complicated and it is council requirements and resource consent conditions that need changing. This is the elephant in the room."
Though frustrated by the system he has had to work with, Jeff has enjoyed meeting 'great clients and workmates' and the many experiences he has had as a builder.
He enjoys music, often humming to the radio while working, plays guitar, and built a six-string guitar from weatherboard taken from Tairua Community Hall during renovations.
Building today is very costly and complicated and it is council requirements and resource consent conditions that need changing.
On summer weekends you may have spotted his gold-coloured ute by Pepe Bridge while he offered kayak rides to tourists. Often over the past 11 years Jeff has his adorable foxy-cross terrier Hugo curled up in the ute while he works.