Making Sense of Construction Management


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All construction projects have their hurdles, and it’s how a project manager handles the unexpected that truly defines his skill. And working on an unoccupied job site can be difficult enough, but refurbishing a still-occupied retail or office space brings its own set of challenges, both for the builders and the occupants. Fit-out and refurbishment jobs can be quite a course to run!

As a recognised leader in the field of construction management for Australia’s commercial office, retail, and hospitality sectors, Sense Projects Pty Ltd is proud of its stellar record when it comes to proving high-quality fit-out and refurbishment projects. Although they will celebrate five years in business in 2011, Sense Projects Director/Owners Brett Eichhorn and Kristian Kelly possess over 30 years’ worth of hands-on experience in the nation’s commercial, retail, and hotel fit-out industry. Their amassed knowledge of site management and project management has enabled them to successfully take on the construction of many successful projects, and amass a client list that is nothing less than enviable.

“About 70 to 80 per cent of our work is in occupied spaces,” says Sense Project’s Brett Eichhorn. Beginning his career as a carpenter in the industry back in 1990, Eichhorn became involved in project and site management, working on everything from office refurbishments to $30 million, five-star hotels. Along with fellow Director and co-owner Kristian Kelley, whose experience includes work in the residential sector, interior fit-out, refurbishment, and a bachelor’s degree in Applied Science – Construction Management, the duo created Sense Projects with a goal: to be Australia’s leading client service commercial fit out construction manager. By providing fit-out and refurbishment works with minimal to no impact on their client’s day-to-day business, they have a well-earned reputation for on-time and on-budget projects, with minimal disturbance.

“A big part of refurbishment and fit-out is that you have to work in occupied space, without being disruptive or conflicting with the clients or the tenants that are sitting in there,” says Kristian Kelly. For Sense Projects, years of hard work are paying off. By being involved in every one of their projects, Kelly and Eichhorn lend not only their vast skills in construction management to their clients, but peace of mind that they will be there and on call if necessary.

In keeping with the company’s awareness of the needs of its clients, Sense Projects ensures that the site managers and contractors it uses fully understand what it means to work in occupied spaces. “There is a big difference between subcontractors that work in construction, and subcontractors who work in fit-out,” remarks Eichhorn. There is, he says, a different mindset needed when it comes to operating in a space with tenants, and being mindful of clients occupying the space.

Many Well-Known Clients

Although they have been in business going on five years, the team at Sense Projects has a large portfolio of top-tier clients in many sectors.. Among its professional repertoire are well-known institutions like American Express, Fujitsu, J .Walter Thompson, Oracle Corporation Australia, Ricoh, Rothschild, and Villeroy and Boch. Along with a 100 per cent performance record, Sense Projects continually strives to raise its client service benchmark with every project. Its commitment to quality, along with personable client-oriented service, has enabled Sense Projects to gain not only glowing references, but a great deal of repeat business in just a few years.

“We believe much of our success comes from us being accountable,” says Kelly, adding that one of the reasons he and Eichhorn started the company was to correct some of the errors they had seen in the past. Prior to Sense, they felt some companies were too inexperienced to take on projects for bigger companies, and that the work was being carried out by newcomers to the profession. “We felt that there was a market that wasn’t being serviced,” says Eichhorn. “Clients were being neglected, and they weren’t getting the service that they deserved, so we wanted to focus in on those projects.”

Through years of construction management, the company has not only gained numerous clients, but made significant professional partnerships along the way with designers, architects, and other firms like CB Richard Ellis, Colliers International, Creative Concept Designs, Eastview Commercial Pty Ltd, PAD Architects, Robert Ferguson Architect, and Woodhead. A number of its clients, in fact, have been referred to Sense Projects through the architects and designers it has worked with over the years.

High Quality Work With Few Disruptions

Called upon to provide quality fit-out and refurbishment works with minimal intrusion, Sense Projects holds a simple philosophy: maintain the needs of its clients as its top priority. Along with Eichhorn and Kelly, privately-owned Sense Projects has four full-time employees, all in management positions. Key to the company’s success is maintaining a personal, hands-on approach with clients, and hiring the best and most suitable contractors and tradespeople to make sure the job gets done right.

Sense Project serves New South Wales, and is able to take on a vast range of projects as small as $10,000 or in excess of $3 million. Some projects can be completed in a single weekend, while other, larger jobs usually take four to six weeks to complete. As Eichhorn and Kelly point out, the company is not only accountable to its clients, but keep a finger on the pulse of every stage of its projects. Recently, Sense Projects managed an entire job through conceptual design, working with the designer, council certification, a private certified review, speaking and organizing with the clients whether consultants were required, and tacking the documentation to a level of construction, which it then managed through to completion. “Typically, it’s not one of the things that we usually get involved in, but we are more than happy to take on that role if need be,” comments Kelly.

A member of the Master Builders Association, the Green Building Council Australia, the Faculty Management Association of Australia, and the Property Council of Australia, the company recently won an award for its work with Cerrone Jewellers’ flagship store. The nature of fine jewelry required a certain degree of opulence, which can be seen in high grade finishes, and attention to detail in the stone tiled entrance, walnut timber and copper/bronze finished joinery display cases and benches, detailed timber moulding across the ceiling, and even onto the German handmade carpet selected for the store. For the head office of Walter Turnbull and various projects for the St. George Bank, the company has created high end reception and lobby area, new boardrooms, meeting rooms, kitchen and breakout areas.

“Project managers and architects place us on the list because of our experience in working in occupied space,” says Kelly, “which as you can imagine is reasonably more difficult, and takes a lot more planning and a lot more hard work.”

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

September 27, 2020, 4:48 AM AEST