A career in carpentry has the perfect mix of tech and construction

Aug 13 2018, 8:55 pm

If you’ve been searching for a career with the perfect balance of hands-on work and technology, look no further.

The role of a carpenter is one of the most in-demand jobs in BC. It’s valued, respected, and a lot more versatile than you might think. And with nearly 40,000 carpentry job openings predicted from 2015 to 2024 in BC, there’s no shortage of opportunities for skilled tradespeople and apprentices interested in a career in carpentry.

If you’re technically-minded and have an interest in design and tech, this could be the career for you, especially with the modular housing revolution underway. We’ve teamed up with the Industry Training Authority (ITA) to explain why.

How modular homes work

Built indoors in sections, modular homes are never subjected to poor weather conditions like the typical stick-built home would be.

This allows for greater quality control as each section is checked in a different department before being covered and transported to the home site. The homes are then placed on a pre-made foundation and joined by a builder.

Theory in practice

Let’s take the new Agassiz construction company Metric Modular as an example. The company specializes in building modular homes complete with electrical, plumbing, finishing, appliances, and furniture. Each module is built ahead of time in a workshop, using Autodesk Revit software to help guide the construction.

The software allows builders to design structures in a virtual 3D environment and create 2D plans for others to work off. What sets Revit apart from other computer-aided design (CAD) programs is its inclusion of what are called families — categories of objects grouped together with predefined parameters. These families include living rooms or bathrooms which can be easily added and modified to fit any project.

Metric Modular invested in training for its employees so they could learn how to incorporate Autodesk Revit in their approach to building. Tim Epp, manager of manufacturing at Metric Modular, said they first hired a university student as a summer intern to help Metric develop families in Revit, and later sent some of their tradespeople for further training in the program.

Modular housing install/Shutterstock

Epp describes how using Revit as a part of the modular approach to home construction has changed their practice.

“The modular approach is fine-tuning everything and having it 100% figured out before you start construction. We need to have these details figured out so we can run it through our factory efficiently.”

Using Revit as part of a factory approach to home construction has enabled many benefits for Metric Modular. The bulk of construction is now completed inside a dry and temperature-controlled factory, which provides protection from the elements for both materials and workers.

The factory environment also allows for the efficient management of waste and recycling as materials can be collected and controlled easily, as well as a place to securely store materials. Homes can now be constructed faster and transported to areas that are remote, subject to harsh weather, or areas where there are shortages in skilled tradespeople.

“We can go from start to finish in about 50% less time than with standard construction. We can work on our modules and have them ready to stack before they would even touch the concrete on a site, and be done and at a lock-up stage when other sites would still be framing,” said Epp.

If you want to help make modular homes for those in your community, or on a larger scale, visit the ITA now to find out more about starting a carpentry apprenticeship.