Is shop fitting worth it?

Discussion in 'Carpenters' Talk' started by Adam Cox, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. Adam Cox

    Adam Cox New Member

    So I've served my time as an apprentice, finished my NVQ level 3 and I have several opportunities;

    I can either stay on with my house builder company at the moment and become a site manager trainee (the only thing of which that appeals to me I'd the security);

    I can stay on site and continue house bashing new builds which can be enjoyable at times but is also repetitive, however this will keep my lifestyle at a similar pace I imagine;

    Finally I could look into shop fitting for a few years, which mainly I like the sound of as although it's a graft, it's more or less set out for you and it should be constantly different. The only thing stopping me being I do like time to do things at home and I know I get extremely stressed out when I feel like I have no time at all to do things. So my question is how worth it is shop fitting and do you think its worth a shot or shall I stick with what I know? How much can I expect to earn shop fitting compared to working under another captenter contracting.

    I could always leave the industry completely and flip burgers but that only appeals to me slightly.

    Cheers guys!
  2. wiggy

    wiggy Screwfix Select

    Stick with your house builder, get in to site management.
    Site manager with carpentry skills will always be in demand. And you have the carpentry to fall back on.

    Shop fitting= 12hr + days, 8 days a week, more often than not working away from home, high pressure working environment = no time for life.

    Flipping burgers= increased waistline and a waste of skills already gained.
    neibick76 likes this.
  3. vivaro man

    vivaro man Active Member


    Shop fitting is a way of making good money but you have to work very hard for concentrated periods. You will be away from home minimum of 5days per week. If you're lucky you'll be somewhere like Premier or Campanile Hotels. If you're unlucky you'll be in a doss house because it's all that's available.

    If you get in with chain like Greggs sandwich shops everything is done to a reasonable standard and the work is quite repetitve but for a young 'un it's a good way of getting some money together quickly. The camaraderie can be good as well.

    As far as I know Spar, McConnels, Londis, B&Q all have a regular refit team on the road doing work on refurbing stores. The words there are "on the road". If you have family that can be a real problem, it puts alot of pressure on your partner.

    It really depends what you want. Do you want your own firm doing high end refurbs or classy cabinet work for a kitchen company? Whatever you decide there will come a day when you will no longer be able to chase the money because you just cannot do it. By then, hopefully, you have enough behind you to pick and choose the jobs and be able to say no to the person who wants you to do 10 doors for a 100quid. Trust me they exist.
    FatHands likes this.
  4. Jord86

    Jord86 Screwfix Select

    Spot on advice that.

    It depends on your circumstances/ personal goals and personality traits in my experience. Site management would be far more stressful than the other options you've mentioned, your security will only last until you fail to meet deadlines or they train up your replacement, plus (I'm assuming you're fairly young) you may find it hard to get by at first, as site bashers can be quite disrespectful towards trainees (that youngster telling me what to do! etc). Plus, three years as a carpenter is nowhere experienced enough to take on the responsibility of instructing blokes with 30 years under their belt.

    If you have a family to support I'd stick with house bashing for the time being, regular money close to home, and also to train as a site agent you'd be on a trainees wage for a couple of years too, so less income.

    If neither of the above appeals then I'd go for shopfitting, at least for a while, earn some decent money, make decent workmates, and travel up and down the country learning new skills to make you a better tradesman.

    The shortage of skills in this country means good carpenters are far more highly prized than yet ANOTHER overqualified, under-experienced, wet behind the ears 'manager', don't give up the trade yet. Best of luck.
  5. chippie244

    chippie244 Super Member

    Through shopfitting you could also get into exhibition work.
  6. Adam Cox

    Adam Cox New Member

    Cheers guys

    Yeah I'm 21 currently in my own flat however my girlfriend is in university most of the year. As you've all said I also don't find the thought of being a trainee site agent appealing as frankly all the ones I can think of I can describe with very colourful language only, I don't even like listening to them myself and after even three years I can recognise someone with questionable trade knowledge..

    I'll definitely take your advice on board though, I just needed someone to tell me shop fitting is indeed the serious commitment it lives up to! I'll weigh up the money side of it/time sacrifice plus the experience before I decide between that and site work although I've perhaps got an offer coming up in the year to hop into an upcoming shopfit company with some big contracts which I'll also ave' a think about!

    What's the significance in exhibition work?
  7. chippie244

    chippie244 Super Member

    You have to build transferable skillls and there are options beside working on a wet, cold site or in a nice warm arena.
  8. Jord86

    Jord86 Screwfix Select

    You could also be employed for a building company on the books working in people's houses, far more job satisfaction in doing bespoke work than bashing out the same old unrewarding cack on a national housebuilders site trying to complete work that "had to be done yesterday". Holiday pay, sick pay, possible vehicle provided, you'd be paid a lesser rate than sub contracting out as self employed but it's up to you to decide whether you'd prefer it or not. I personally can't stand someone thinking that as they employ me on the books, I'm their b.itch, hence why I'm self-employed. But everyone's different......
    chippie244 likes this.
  9. joinerjohn1

    joinerjohn1 Screwfix Select

    Shopfitting?? Hmm lots of nights out (Nights working and days sleeping) Only usual on bigger jobs to actually get day shift working. A lot of smaller shop fits are, fitters in as soon as the last customer is out the door, then work like the clappers till it's done.. Believe me a lot of shops don't want workmen getting in the way of a sale. Yes work is varied in the extreme. One time you could be assembling and installing bespoke units, the next installing (almost) bog standard supermarket displays, ready for the merchandisers to fill up (If you're extremely unlucky, you'll have to follow a planogram and do the merchandising yourself)
  10. wiggy

    wiggy Screwfix Select

    If I was 21 again I would go straight out on my own as soon as.....

  11. So stick with what you are doing, but start looking to do private work in spare time.

    You wont earn as much as shopfitting but you will be able to go home and have a home life (of sorts).

    But once you start getting work coming to you, then you can really have a choice of what to do. First few years of any of the choices will be tough. Choose the 1 that gives you the future you want, even if it means lack of money right now. You can still live with little money if you can see your future
  12. wiggy

    wiggy Screwfix Select

    I am SE jot, I was referring to the op

  13. I know.

    My post was aimed at the original question/post.

    Sorry for confusion
    wiggy likes this.
  14. philthespark

    philthespark Active Member

    I worked for a firm of shopfitters for about 2 years, as others have said there's plenty of pressure and long shifts also long periods of time away from home. I remember one job and I told my wife I'd see her either Friday or Saturday as I left home on Monday, in the end I was away for 3 weeks. One time we were so busy that I had started work in Nottingham at 8 am,finished at 1 am the following morning then instead of getting my self to bed I had to drive to Birmingham to sort out some problems on a store that was opening at 9 am that morning.Then the boss had a go at me for going home for a few days, he didn't see any problem with working 15 hour nights, then doing a 24 hour shift then being asked to go to another job. The digs can also be an issue, some firms book the cheapest they can find, stayed in one in the middle of a hot summer, right on a main A road through a town and it had no aircon. The road was busy as hell, and it was so hot you needed the window open, to be honest I'd have gotten a better days sleep on the hard shoulder of the M6! I came out of it in a rather unfortunate way, I'd been offered a cushy job with another firm but was thinking along the lines of "better the devil you know" anyway I declined the new job offer and stayed with the shopfitting firm, 2 weeks later they lost a major contract and several of us lost our jobs.
    The other thing you have to think about is working with other people,yes most of us do it every day but when you are working away you are stuck with them 24/7, get an idiot and it can be terrible,we had one lad who got drunk and upset everyone regularly, until one day he pushed it too far and I belted him. Another time I ended up sharing a room with a young guy who wouldn't turn his phone off, you need sleep doing 15 hour shifts and a phone going off every10 minutes is hardly conducive to getting a good kip, I soon resolved this by throwing it out of the window, the phone not the lad. lol.Anyway I think I've given you the bad points, others have given you the good points, it's up to you to decide, good luck with whatever you decide to do.
  15. You are a bit young at the moment, but the best Site Agents and General Foremen are usually time served Tradesmen, with experience behind them and common sense to overcome problems.
    Tradesmen have the experience, whereas the college numptys might have all the bits of paper but not a clue in the real world.
    philthespark likes this.
  16. philthespark

    philthespark Active Member

    Yes and the tradesmen have to put up with the carp that they spout.

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