While most people think of tools and materials when they think of renovations, it’s the skilled trades-people who put those materials to work that make the real magic happen.

The career professionals who master their chosen trade represent a culmination of experience and knowledge that can only be gained through dedication and hard work.


Bricklayer and master mason Willi Rieder, 49, finished his career training at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and completed his apprenticeship when he was 23 years old.

He started Alpine Masonry in Surrey, B.C. in 1990 and still lays brick on a daily basis because he likes to personally ensure a high quality level of work.

Like many trades, the masonry field is desperate for young blood to enter the fray but getting young people to start a career isn’t easy. Rieder says many young people don’t realize how much work and expertise goes into being a mason and as a result many give up before finishing their apprenticeships.

“Masonry is a very difficult trade because there’s a lot of things you have to learn and you have to be mentally and physically in shape. It’s definitely an art to learn and it takes a lot of practice and a lot of time,” Rieder said.

Masons not only have to be knowledgeable about hundreds of different products, each one with its own specific quirks and mixing limits, but they also have to maintain a steady laying hand despite lifting upwards of 500 bricks each day. Add to that the intricacies of scaffolding construction and takedown, cooperating with structural engineers and it becomes obvious that details are what matters to a mason.

“You have to learn so much because there are so many details you have to know in your job,” Rieder said.


Your roof protects your entire house as well as you within it, so suffice it to say professional roofers take their job very seriously.

Robert Bedard, 40, was a natural who learned his craft from a master roofer because no formal training program existed when he started. Today he has nearly 20 years of roofing under his belt and says the toughest part of being a roofer is handling the physicality of the job.

“You use every muscle in your body — the only thing that doesn’t hurt at the end of the day is your head. You’ve definitely got to be in tip-top shape,” Bedard said.

Bedard works for Great Canadian Roofing based in Edmonton and says creative thinking is a large part of the job as well, since every roof is different and figuring out how to work effectively around chimneys, windows and other additions takes some real smarts.

“You need a real ability to problem-solve,” Bedard said.

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