A Proper Yorkshire Builder’s proper impressive skills
- Phil is a qualified bricklayer and a general builder who got his start working for his Dad’s landscaping business
- His wicked sense of humor has earned Phil hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers and millions of views
- Phil started wearing Steel Blue boots after asking his followers which workwear brands they loved the most!
When Phil Rzonca up-ended a 240-litre wheelie bin full of water onto the surface of a resin patio he’d just laid, he had an unexpected hit on his hands.
The water drained through the aggregate resin in just three seconds. One instant there’s a flood, the next, a dry patio. As Phil wrote in the caption to the Instagram video he posted of his little drainage experiment, “abracadabra!”
The video has now been viewed almost two million times.
A proper Yorkshire builder
Phil, from Leeds in the UK, is known on social media as “A Proper Yorkshire Builder” and has more than 114,000 followers on Instagram. He posts videos showing his latest projects — as diverse as sunken patios, floating fire pits, water features, driveways and roofing — often featuring hilarious voice overs and comic moments alongside genuine advice.
“I started out in life in block paving, because that’s what my Dad used to do,” Phil said. “I started working with him when I was very young, in my early teens, on weekends and holidays. Then the idea was that I should get a trade, so I went to do bricklaying at college.
“Then I just wanted to start earning money, so I went into the landscaping industry and now that has morphed into taking on any kind of job I fancy doing. I’m a self-taught roofer, a self-taught joiner. I do garden structures, gazebos, garden offices, whatever suits me at the time the jobs come through.
“I’ve got a short attention span, so I’ve always tried to take on work that spikes my interest and keeps me out of my comfort zone.”
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Skills that go the extra mile
The ultra-fast–draining patio is just one example of Phil going above and beyond to deliver incredible, bespoke solutions for his clients. Another example is a triangular gazebo he built for a customer last year.
“She said to me, ‘I want to use that corner for something’, but it was a really odd shape, so I said, ‘why not put a gazebo there?’,” Phil said. “So, I had to make a triangle gazebo. When I sat down to design it I really didn’t know how it was going to work. It was trial and error and when we got onsite there was still stuff that changed on the day to make it fit.”
Phil was working with expensive oak beams, so every cut had to be perfect — which is a challenge when you’re working with some unusual angles. That also presented some challenges when it came to installing the guttering.
“I basically had to mitre the gutter and weld the gutter together with a soldering iron,” he said. “I took the end off it and screwed in a clouted nail, so it had a wider head, and pressed it into the plastic until it fused the two pieces together.”
Now that’s innovative problem-solving!
Becoming an Instagram superstar
Phil said he doesn’t really plan his Instagram content; he simply creates it as the ideas occur to him, often pulling in his colleagues and mates — including, until his recent sad passing, his beloved Saint Bernard dog, Benji.
“Benji would often join us onsite and the clients loved having him around,” Phil said. “We did have one occasion where I was in the garden and the client popped her head out of the upstairs window to say Benji had got in the house and she couldn’t get him out. I kicked my boots off and ran inside to find him upstairs, in her bedroom, diving from side to side on the bed. He was so excited. He totally trashed the bedroom. Luckily, the client was a dog person so she was very understanding!”
Why Phil wears Steel Blue boots
When he’s not kicking off his boots to rescue dogs and distressed clients, Phil is wearing Steel Blue.
“I put out a post on Instagram just before Christmas asking followers for the best workwear, and a lot of people mentioned Steel Blue boots,” Phil said. He decided to get hold of a pair and hasn’t looked back.
“I’m on my feet for about 15 hours a day on average and they’re very comfortable — probably the most comfortable boots I’ve ever had. I also like the zip on the side.”