{{ propApi.closeIcon }}
Our industry
Our industry $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Housing industry insights Economics Insights Data & forecasts Tailored research and analysis Advocacy & policy Advocacy Policy priorities Position statements Submissions News and inspiration Industry news Member alerts Media releases HOUSING Online
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 HIA Insurance Services Construction works insurance Home warranty insurance Tradies & tool insurance Member perks Toyota vehicles The Good Guys Commercial Fuel savings See all Planning & safety solutions Building & planning services Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) Solutions for your business Contracts Online Advertise jobs Trusted support & guidance Contracts & compliance support Industrial relations
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 Safety rules Working with silica See all Building your business Growing your business Maintaining your business See all Other subjects Getting approval to build Sustainable homes See all
Careers & learning
Careers & learning $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
A rewarding career Become an apprentice Apprenticeships on offer How do I apply? Frequently asked questions Study with us Find a course to suit you Qualification courses Learning on demand Professional development courses A job in the industry Get your builder's licence Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Further your career 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 2024 Australian Home of the Year Enter online Industry events Events in the next month Economic outlook National Conference Events calendar
HIA shop
HIA shop $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Most popular products National Construction Code Vol 1 & 2 Waterproofing wet areas AS 3740:2021 HIA Guide to Waterproofing HIA Guide to NCC Livable Housing Provisions Top categories Building codes & standards Contracts & documents Guides & manuals Safety documents Signage For your business Contracts Online Digital Australian Standards Digital Resource Library Forecasts & data
About Contact Newsroom
$vuetify.icons.faTimes
$vuetify.icons.faMapMarker Set my location Use the field below to update your location
Address
Change location
{{propApi.title}}
{{propApi.text}} {{region}} Change location
{{propApi.title}}
{{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

Content Writer

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
When ADHD & addiction collide
Jess Kennedy suffered a 20-year battle with drugs and alcohol, all complicated by undiagnosed ADHD. Now a Beyond Blue speaker, she shares her journey, hoping to help others with similar issues.
Jul 24
7 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
President's report Building developments Development Approval (DA)
NSW President's report
Planning reforms across the state are creating waves. However, with regulatory burdens high, now is not the time for a complete overhaul of NSW home-building laws.
Jul 24
2 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Outdoor Inspiration Projects
Tropical wonder
After running their building and design business for more than 15 years, this husband-and-wife team created a sunny hideaway that won the 2024 HIA Australian Outdoor Project Award.
Jul 24
4 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Environment Energy efficiency GreenSmart Sustainability
Don't miss the HIA Future Homes Forum
Have you booked your spot at the HIA Future Homes Forum in Hobart yet? Check out our must-see topic and speaker line-up on 23 August.
Jul 24
3 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Inspiration Residential Products
Rural Reimagined
Tingle View, a project by The Rural Building Company in Western Australia, is as timelessly elegant as it is inviting. Housing takes a deep dive into 2024’s winning HIA Australian Project Home.
Jul 24
3 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Design Inspiration Projects
Blue steel
Beautifully versatile, this misty blend of cool blues with slate-grey undertones has emerged as a timeless combination. These shades evoke a sense of calmness and serenity, and can be seamlessly integrated with neutrals or bold ac...
Jul 24
1 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Inspiration Residential Projects
Parkside perfection
Perfectly positioned on the edge of the picturesque and heritage-listed Haig Parklands in the heart of Canberra, this award-winning project is the culmination of a visionary collaboration between Bellevue Building and DNA Architec...
Jul 24
4 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Apprentice Awards Financial planning People
Go figure!
Changing his career path from studying finance to taking on an apprenticeship was undoubtedly the right move for Hobart’s Oliver Burnell. His skill, determination and passion for advocacy are just some traits that won him the 2024...
Jul 24
4 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Bathroom Plumbing Project management Renovations Business and digital
Wasting no time
When a couple launched their own bathroom renovation business, they soon recognised a gap in the market. Their product launch was so successful, they’re now considering globalisation.
Jul 24
4 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Inspiration Design Bathroom Products
On trend winter 2024
Housing’s top pick of innovative building products for winter 2024.
Jul 24
4 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Wellbeing Mental health Better living
Food for thought
A busy lifestyle, tight schedules and juggling priorities means that we may put our food intake last. Nutrition expert Joel Feren explains how our choices make a difference in the long run.
Jul 24
4 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Affordable Awards Apprentice People
Social impact
Housing affordability is spiralling out of control but winner of the 2024 HIA Australian Professional Medium Builder/Renovator award, St Joseph Affordable Homes, emerges as a beacon of hope. It’s pioneering innovative solutions co...
Jul 24
3 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight