ONE of Australia's leading builders, Sir Albert Jennings, has died. Sir Albert, 96, was the founder of A. V. Jennings Ltd (later to become Jennings Industries Ltd) a company he started in 1932 and ran for 40 years. He built the firm into the country's largest home builder and it now constructs more than 4,000 houses a year. He was born in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick in 1896 and educated at the South Melbourne State school. After leaving school, he began an apprenticeship in mechanical dentistry but ended his studies in 1916 when he enlisted in the Australian army. He served in France as a sergeant with the Medical Corps and on his return to Melbourne entered the real estate business. In 1932, despite the Depression, he formed A. V. Jennings Construction Co and in his first year, built nine brick homes for a profit of A$1,000 (HK$5,200). In the state of Queensland it is estimated that more than 40,000 families live in homes built by A. V. Jennings. The company was also heavily involved in the development of Jupiter's Casino on the Gold Coast, Daydream Island resort in the Whitsundays, Southgate development in Melbourne and many other major civil and commercial construction. Sir Albert will be mourned as both a great Australian, who had made a major contribution to the building industry, and a man of great humanity. Known simply as ''AV'' to staff and friends he never lost his ability to feel at ease with people from the prime minister to the newest apprentice carpenter.