Wellington's master builders of the future competed head to head last month and Miramar's Ryan Lake emerged as the capital's apprentice of the year.
In the 10th Registered Master Builders' Apprentice of the Year competition, 134 aspiring young builders competed in nine regions around the country. Each region's winner will compete in the final in Auckland this October.
In the regional competitions contestants had their projects and technical knowledge evaluated by a panel of three judges.
Lake, who works for Peter Camp Builders, beat nine other Wellington finalists and walked away with prizes worth $6000.
The 21-year-old native of Hanmer Springs said he developed a passion for building at a very young age.
"I started woodwork class in year 9, and I started making little bits and pieces, furniture, tables, dartboard cabinets, stuff like that, and giving them away to my parents and other people.
"I guess seeing their gratitude and happiness, that's what I liked, seeing their smile afterwards."
Lake moved to Wellington from Christchurch more than two years ago after austere conditions in the garden city helped him finish the theory portion of his apprenticeship in double time.
"The company I was working with put me up in a house, and I was underage so I couldn't go to the pub or anything like that.
"I just stayed at home and did all my theory work. I got it done in 18 months . . . for most people it takes three or four years."
Lake said he was optimistic about the two-day final, which consists of a 45-minute interview before a five-hour race against the clock to build a previously unseen project from scratch.
"I think it's all going to be about time management, getting the practical done and getting everything put together in time. It's going to be tricky, but I'm feeling pretty confident."
If Lake wins again he will walk away with a $5000 grant, an iPad, trade products and tools, and "the recognition of being the best in New Zealand", he said.
Once his apprenticeship is completed in four months' time Lake plans to continue working in New Zealand for about two years before joining his brother in Edinburgh.
In the meantime, chisels and hammers should be the furthest thing from Lake's mind as he relaxes in Bali before coming back to prepare for the final.
Do you feel better off than at this time last year?