Our very own DIY SOS

A new home in time for Christmas – with the help of our apprentices

Last year, we set ourselves the task of converting a former estate office into a six-bedroom family home. The property, in Breightmet, had been empty for a number of years and a lot needed to be done to transform it into a habitable home.

The house had been allocated to a large family who’d been waiting months/years for a suitable home. When they asked if they could move in before Christmas, we decided to take on the challenge.

Just like the BBC’s DIY SOS programme, work involved a number of trades coming together to transform the property. Work had to be carefully planned with electricians, plumbers, plasterers, joiners and bricklayers joining the effort at different stages, along with a group of willing apprentices.

Planning the work

Our Voids Supervisor, Stephen Lowe, explains: “We had to strip everything out and start again – with new flooring, a full re-wire, re-plaster, roof repairs, new windows and a modern bathroom and kitchen.”

With the clock ticking, a detailed plan was drafted with set dates for a particular activity to begin. Each trade needed to follow closely behind another in a logical manner and, as each task finished, the next one began.

But even the best laid plans couldn’t have accounted for a pandemic. “We had to down tools for a while,” says Stephen. “But, working with our trade unions, we formulated a plan to get things moving again. This involved doing extensive risk assessments and, as this was a very large property, it was suited to social distancing.”

With such a brilliant team effort, the newly refurbished home was ready a week before Christmas for the family to move into. Take a peek inside the newly-refurbished home in the video below.

Take a peek inside the newly-refurbished home in this short film

What our apprentices say

Adam Shepherdson

One of those apprentices was Adam Shepherdson (42), who’s just completed his first year of a four-year apprenticeship after previously working as a Caretaker at one of our schemes.

Adam spent several weeks working at the house and says: “We had to do the plumbing in stages so I was probably one of those who was there the longest. It was all very well co-ordinated with different trades coming in at the right time.

“It was great being able to observe other trades at work. I got the chance to learn some joinery and helped to fit some skirting boards. At the end, the place looked completely different and it was really rewarding to see it being transformed into a home for someone.”

Adam goes on to talk about why he applied for the apprenticeship: “I always wanted to learn a trade but I didn’t do very well at school. For most apprenticeships you need Maths and English qualifications but I didn’t have them so I was turned down for an electrical and plastering apprenticeship. But with plumbing, I’m able to study these subjects while getting experience on the job. I’m grateful for the opportunity and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Alex Coles

Alex Coles (28) has just one year left of his apprenticeship before he qualifies as an electrician.

Working at the house for five days, Alex’s role involved re-wiring the whole property and fitting new plug sockets and light fittings. “I usually only work with a qualified electrician carrying out electrical repairs so it was interesting to work on a job like this and be around other apprentices,” he says.

Before working for us, Alex did a degree in Sports Management and went on to work as a PE Teacher for four years but wanted a complete career change.

“I’m looking forward to qualifying next year and I’m hoping to get a job with Bolton at Home after that,” adds Alex. “It’s a bit different to teaching PE but I enjoy the work. As we move more towards electric power, it’s a good field to be in with the potential for all sorts of opportunities in the future.”

Chris Calderley

Chris Calderley (37) qualified as a plasterer just as he finished working on the project. “It was a great way to end my apprenticeship,” says Chris. “It really was the culmination of everything I’d learned over the last three years. I worked at the house for about two months on and off. I didn’t get chance to learn any other trades as there was a lot of plastering to do in a short space of time. But it was great to be part of something that was going to make a big difference to a local family.”

Now employed by us, Chris had previously made orthopaedic footwear for the NHS. Explaining why he decided to make the career change, Chris says: “I wasn’t enjoying my job as much and, after becoming a father of twins, I began to think about what I really wanted to do with my life.

“When I saw the apprenticeships advertised, I thought of a lad I used to live with who worked as a plasterer for Bolton at Home. He always talked about how much he enjoyed his job so I decided to apply. I’m so glad I did. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I enjoy attention to detail so this job suits me. There’s a world of difference between a good job and a great job, and that’s what keeps me interested.”

About our apprenticeship programme

We currently employ 19 apprentices who work in the following roles:

  • Bricklayers
  • Roofers
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Surveyors
  • Plasterers
  • IT
  • Project Management
  • Data Analysis
  • Governance and Regulation
  • HR
  • Accounting
  • Health, Safety and Environmental

Keep an eye on our website and social media channels for upcoming apprenticeship opportunities.

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