{{ propApi.closeIcon }}
Our industry
Our industry $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Economic research & forecasting Economics Housing outlook Tailored market research Economic reports & data Inspiring Australia's building professionals Business & digital Products & innovation Projects HOUSING Online The only place to get your industry news Media releases Member alerts Submissions See all
Business support
Business support $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Become an apprentice host Hire an apprentice Why host a HIA apprentice? Apprentice partner program Builder & manufacturer program Industry insurance Construction legal expenses insurance Construction works insurance Home warranty insurance Tradies & tool insurance Planning & safety solutions Building & planning services How can safety solutions help you? Independent site inspections Solutions for your business Contracts Online HIA Tradepass HIA SafeScan Advertise jobs Trusted support & guidance Contracts & compliance support Professional services Industrial relations Member savings Toyota vehicles Fuel savings Handy pay See all
Resources & advice
Resources & advice $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Building it right Building codes Australian standards Getting it right on site See all Building materials & products Concrete, bricks & walls Getting products approved Use the right products for the job See all Managing your business Dealing with contracts Handling disputes Managing your employees See all Managing your safety Falls from heights Safety rules Working with silica See all Building your business Growing your business Maintaining your business See all Other subjects COVID-19 Getting approval to build Sustainable homes See all
Careers & learning
Careers & learning $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
A rewarding career Become an apprentice Apprenticeships on offer Frequently asked questions Study with us Find a course to suit you Qualification courses Learning on demand A job in the industry Get your builder's licence Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Find jobs
HIA community
HIA community $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Join HIA Sign me up How do I become a member? What's in it for me? Mates rates Get involved Become an award judge Join a committee Partner with us Our initiatives HIA Building Women GreenSmart Kitchen, bathroom and design hub Get to know us Our members Our people Our partners Support for you Charitable Foundation Mental health program
Awards & events
Awards & events $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Awards program People & Business Awards GreenSmart Australian Housing Awards Awards winners Regional Award winners Australian Housing Award winners 2023 Australian Home of the Year Enter online Industry events Events in the next month Economic outlook National Conference Events calendar
HIA products
HIA products $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Shop @ HIA Digital Australian Standards Contracts Online Shipping & delivery Purchasing T&Cs See all Products Purchase NCC 2022 Building codes & standards Economic reports Hard copy contracts Guides & manuals
About Contact Newsroom
$vuetify.icons.faMapMarker Set my location Use the field below to update your location
Change location
{{propApi.text}} {{region}} Change location
{{propApi.successMessage}} {{region}} Change location

$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

The apprentice

Photography: Josh Hogan Photography

The apprentice

Photography: Josh Hogan Photography
{{ tag.label }} {{ tag.label }} $vuetify.icons.faTimes
Winner of HIA’s Australian Apprentice of the Year award in 2008, Scott Mouthaan has achieved much more than he ever expected.

Ian Bushnell


It took a little longer than anticipated but Hunter Valley builder Scott Mouthaan has achieved the goal he set when he was named the 2008 HIA Australian Jim Brookes Apprentice of the Year. He’s five years into setting up his company, SKM Built, and still setting goals.

That penchant for continual improvement, cultivated by his teacher parents, is one of the attributes that won Scott HIA's top award for apprentices.

Back in 2008, he planned to complete his studies, subcontract for a year or two and go out under his own name. But instead, he served ‘a second apprenticeship’ as a supervisor with long-time Hunter firm, R.T. Simpson & Sons, which specialises in high-end custom homes and renovations. Staying there for nine years was the best preparation for Scott, who went into business with his wife Katie in 2018.

At R.T. Simpson, he took charge of all construction operations, including onsite project management, client liaison and running the team. 'I thought of it as a builder's apprenticeship, learning about the business and onsite work,' Scott says.

HIA member Scott Mouthaan of SKM Built with his wife Katie and their three children

Before long, he was ready to go solo, starting with small renovations. Since he already had a name in the industry, it wasn’t long before his reputation for quality and attention to detail brought customers to his door.

After starting off with just an offsider, Scott built up from small renovations to bigger projects and new custom homes. He now has five employees, including two apprentices, and uses three or four contractors as needed.

Scott says he is now looking to take the firm into the high-end sector, which he hopes will not just be lucrative but test his and his employees' skills. 'We're always looking for jobs that are challenging. We can walk away with satisfaction at the end,' he says.

Project highlights include a restoration of a 130-year-old cottage for a guesthouse property at Pokolbin and a Hamptons-style home in Newcastle’s suburb of New Lambton. The home had specific design challenges, such as curved walls in the stairwell, that the clients requested. After completing this project, Scott plans to enter this in the next HIA custom home awards.

He loves that his firm can turn clients' dreams, such as these projects, into reality. 'We use all the knowledge we've developed over the years and come up with ways to achieve what they want in an aesthetic and practical way,' he says.

‘We’re always looking for jobs that are challenging,’ says Scott Mouthaan
It wasn’t long before Scott’s reputation for quality brought customers to his door.

He attributes his determination and drive for success to his father – a bricklayer-turned-TAFE-teacher – and his principal mother. It was working on weekends with his dad – the son of an immigrant Dutch block layer – that piqued his interest in the building industry.

He took his father's advice to go into carpentry and took on his values of achieving as much as you can and making sure you do the best possible job. These are values that he's now instilling in his apprentices, encouraging them to take their off-site studies seriously.

'When they started their journey with TAFE, I was up-front about what my expectations are,' Scott says. 'I wanted them to knuckle down and strive to be as good as they could be; to have opportunities down the line.'

Onsite, Scott has experienced tradies who can pass on their knowledge. He recalls how important it was as an apprentice to have diverse sources to draw from so he could decide what systems worked best for him. But it’s that striving for quality that is paramount.

'You're only as good as the work you're putting out and the work people see,' Scott says. 'You can do 100 good jobs and one bad one, and that’s what people talk about.' Scott is a hands-on manager but as the company grows, he knows he will have to step back. Developing his apprentices into skilled tradespeople who can share that burden is important.

'In our business, we're looking for our apprentices to take hold of the baton when we're ready to step back,' he says.

Scott's current apprentices had already connected with a training organisation when they started. However, he's keen to run his next apprentices through HIA Apprentices, HIA's Group Training Organisation, given his long association with the industry body.

Scott is thrilled that his building business can turn clients’ dreams into reality
When he launched the business, clients drew confidence from the fact that he was a HIA member

Scott wants to have apprentices under SKM's wing from start to finish. 'We need to grow the next crop that come through,' he says. 'Apprentices will always be the future of what we're doing.'

Scott says HIA has been with him all the way since winning his award. Recently he completed a HIA builder's coaching course and he values the support and services the Association offers.

'It's a great thing,' he says. 'You can always contact someone to ask a question or nut something out. I always recommend membership and I'll always be a part of it.'

When he launched the business, clients drew confidence from the fact that he was a HIA member. His advice to young apprentices and future builders is to find your niche. 'You need to find the market that fits the work you want to do,' he explains.

Communicating clearly with clients, managing expectations and making their experience as enjoyable as possible is crucial. 'Our clients know exactly where we're up to and what work they're going to get,' Scott says.

Above all, he says it's important to be passionate about your career. 'That's half the battle. It's also important to surround yourself with great colleagues. They push you to be better as well. It's hard being in the building game without having a laugh and enjoy the work that you're doing.'

It would be a fitting reward if this award-winning apprentice graduated to being an award-winning builder. Something that should not be too far away.

First published on 19 May 2023

Better living Inspiration Mental health Wellbeing
Redefining life
Beyond Blue speaker and ex corporate athlete Peta Sitcheff has gone from being burnt-out to firing on all cylinders.
Feb 24
5 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Wellbeing Inspiration Mental health Better living
Feel better, or be better
When work stress started to turn into something more sinister, silence and denial nearly cost Tim Lacey everything. Today, he’s passionate about helping other men to speak up and get help when needed.
Feb 24
6 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Wellbeing Inspiration Mental health Better living
In the shadow of the Impossible Man
For Beyond Blue ambassador Craig Killian, a lifetime of trying to conform to unrealistic male standards eventually resulted in a mental health crisis. He chats to Housing about living with the ‘Impossible Man’ and learning how to ...
Feb 24
4 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
President's report
NQ President's report
Happy New Year, welcome back from the team at HIA.
Feb 24
3 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
President's report
TAS President's report
After completing my first year as Tasmanian President, it is time to reflect on the achievements and issues of the past 12 months and align ourselves with the opportunities and challenges for the year ahead.
Feb 24
3 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Risk management Scaffolding Business systems Design
Eliminating risks
It’s essential for businesses and employees to prioritise health and safety at work. The good news is there are many ways to improve safety onsite. Meet two successful companies, SSS Roof Scaffolding and Cosentino, who explain how...
Jan 24
3 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Kitchens Design Awards Projects
Alfresco and aquarium combo
Western Australia’s Carmen Hansberry is no novice when it comes to interior design. This Senior Creative Designer and business founder showcased her residential talents, winning the HIA 2023 Western Australian Residential Interior...
Jan 24
3 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards President's report
QLD President's report
Celebrating the HIA-CSR QLD Housing Awards is a great time to reflect on our industry’s successes in 2023 and the positives ahead in 2024.
Dec 23
2 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Inspiration Residential
From tiny acorns
This extension project in inner Melbourne proves that good things really do come in small packages.
Dec 23
4 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
President's report National Construction Code (NCC) Supply chain
ACT & Southern NSW President's report
As the building industry grapples with supply chain constraints, rising interest rates, and governmental housing initiatives falling short, addressing land costs is the key to sustainable growth.
Dec 23
1 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) Building Code of Australia (BCA) Compliance National Construction Code (NCC)
Innovation in housing
A performance-based building code provides greater flexibility and enables innovation in how and with what we build. But are the benefits being fully realised? Is flexibility and certainty achievable?
Dec 23
6 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Environment Sustainability Walls
Choose Siniat for sustainability, quality and durability
Renowned for its pioneering work in the field of sustainability, Siniat supplies an array of quality wall and ceiling solutions to the residential sector.
Dec 23
4 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight