Bec was working in childcare when she fell in love. It led to a dramatic career change.
“I was working in childcare and helped out my sparky husband on weekends,” Bec says. “I fell in love with the job. It took a little convincing but he took me on as an apprentice and we haven’t looked back.”
Bec, who is a diminutive 5-foot-2 yet can comfortably carry a 10-foot ladder, says she immediately “loved the challenge” of being an electrician, as well as the “physical aspect” and “being somewhere different from week to week or even day to day”.
More recently Bec has created videos to help educate people about electrical work, an initiative that led to her being awarded NSW Tradeswoman of the Year in 2012.
“I noticed a massive gap in the renovating/lifestyle TV genre where the electrical installations, devices used and electrical safety were either glossed over or skipped entirely,” Bec explains.
“The electrical industry is a specialised one, but just because home renovators cannot legally do this job themselves does not mean they should not be informed of products or ideas that can be used in their homes.
“I wanted to be able to arm my audience with knowledge about the industry so they can make informed decisions about the electrical components of their renovations. I also wanted to highlight women in trades.”
Bec says young girls need to know that learning a trade is a viable and attractive career. “We need to target a younger audience such as through school careers advisers. Young girls need to know that trades are a genuine option as a career. The job can be very flexible if you run your own business and you can make great money.
“I also think we need more female tradies in the media. A gorgeous female sparky I met last year spruiks ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’.”
Another important message that Bec is keen to spread is that people should always use a licensed tradesperson for electrical work.
“Electrical, along with plumbing and air-conditioning, is a specialised trade,” Bec says. “With electrical if you make a mistake attempting DIY it could cause fire or electrocution. It is a lot more complex than home renovators realise. You don’t want to risk your life, or the life of your loved ones, trying to save a few dollars.”
Bec says she often comes across electrical problems caused by over-eager DIY work. “Unfortunately it is far too common. Some have been silly mistakes, others have been potentially deadly. I cannot understand the risks that some home owners have taken.
“We’ve also come across dodgy and non-compliant electrical products which have been imported from overseas.”
Bec says for any project it’s not worth skimping on materials. “Don’t cut corners when it comes to materials. Cheaper does not always mean better, use brand names with a quality reputation.” She also says to always take the correct safety precautions and ensure you have the right equipment for the job.
Bec’s tips for ensuring you get a good tradie include getting referrals from friends and ensure your tradie is using compliant products. She also recommends getting multiple itemised quotes that include the brands of materials to be used, a breakdown of material and labour costs and any contingencies or potential variances.
Bec really enjoys being able to share her knowledge and expertise with others. “Just being able to pass on simple tips gives me a thrill. I love it.”
She also loves getting stuck into her own projects at home. “We are about to pull up our back deck to redo. It is currently in pine and we’re changing it to merbau.”
Bec’s favourite project was adding a second level to her home. “We did a significant portion of the reno ourselves, although we did enlist the help of specialised trades such as the brickies, plumber and roofers.”
“I’d love to, in a few years, sell up and buy a large block of land and owner build our dream home. One with enough room for our children’s families once they are (much) older.”
Bec’s workshop at home tends to be the garage. “It’s not fancy but it works.” Her favourite items are her hand tools. “They are my money makers. Pliers, screwdriver, volt stick, side cutters and level.”
Bec was drawn to the Workshop community after seeing posts on Twitter. “I love DIY and anything to do with DIY. Social media is and extremely valuable tool to bring the renovating community together.”