Going Boldly

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-By Claire Suttles

Quality Builders Group is the USS Enterprise of construction: the company boldly goes where no transportable has gone before. This boldness is both logistical and conceptual. Logistically, the company puts transportable buildings in extremely remote Western Australian communities where many other construction companies won’t or can’t build. Conceptually, Quality Builders dares to imagine new applications for transportable buildings, and make those visions a reality. In doing so, CEO Kevin Taylor explains, “We’ve established ourselves as one of the prime transportable builders in the state.”

Overall, transportables save customers time and money through relatively low manufacturing costs and efficient building times, particularly in remote areas. More specifically, transportables are a building solution for the diverse, and often challenging, construction needs of Western Australia. They are particularly well suited to extremely remote WA communities where onsite construction may be unrealistic. Mr Taylor explains that Quality Builders can put transportables anywhere a truck can go, into areas “as remote as you can possibly even think of.”

Because the firm completes ninety per cent of the construction in its yards in Perth, Quality Builders also has far more control than with onsite construction, and can finish a project with significant time savings. This control ensures the quality of the structure, which can be an issue when working in remote areas. Indeed, Quality Builders is well experienced in the challenges of building in the bush – many roads, for example, in northwest WA used for delivering transportables are impassable during heavy seasonal rains. The company also has to deal with a lack of access to power and water services. And, because labour is often scarce in remote areas, Quality Builders sends its own workers from Perth to do the job. Once the transportable reaches its destination, these experienced workers can complete all the site-works, reassembly, and installations in as little as one day depending on the complexity.

Quality Builders has seen firsthand how transportables can edge out onsite construction due to their resilience and cost saving. Take, for example, the transportable homes the company recently built for the indigenous community at Warmun WA. The area recently flooded, and water swept through the houses, lifting them off of their footings. But, because they were transportables, Quality Builders was able to pick them up and move them right back into place again with minimal damage. Mr Taylor explains that with that kind of flood damage, onsite built housing would have to be demolished and rebuilt from scratch.

Another advantage that transportable customers enjoy is flexibility. Mr Taylor reports that many people choose transportables because they know the structure may need to be moved in the near future. For instance, Quality Builders is currently building an 850 square metre court house in Kununnurra. The original courthouse is undergoing restoration, and the town chose a transportable because in two years’ time, when the original courthouse is again ready for use, the transportable one can be moved to a new location and used for another purpose.

Quality Builders began as a private family business in 1976 and has been growing steadily ever since. In 1985 the company established its own fully equipped engineering shop, thereby gaining the ability to complete all of the structural steel components for its contracts. The firm’s self-sufficiency increased again in 1990 when it began manufacturing its own wall framing and trusses. The company moved to its current location in Forrestfield, Western Australia, in 2003. And, in 2010, Quality Builders added an additional site in Kewdale, increasing its total yard capacity to over 3 hectares.

Throughout the company’s history, Quality Builders has focused on producing specialised transportable construction for a wide variety of markets. In doing so, the firm has developed three different divisions: Quality Builders, Trans Homes, and Kimberley Builders. The divisions enable a unique level of diversity because each branch specialises in a niche area of the transportables industry.

Quality Builders is the group’s flagship company. Concentrating on commercial construction, the company is also one of the major suppliers of transportables for the Western Australian Government. The company is also heavily involved with the Federal Building the Education Revolution (BER) stimulus, and has built over 70 classrooms in the last two years.

The key to Quality Builders’ success is applying the transportable model to commercial structures usually only associated with on-site construction – Mr Taylor insists that the company can build virtually any commercial building as a transportable. Recent projects are quite diverse and include police stations, prison camps, aged care facilities, electrical switch rooms, offices, drive through coffee centres, and school extensions.

Trans Homes is the residential branch of Quality Builders Group and is a leading provider of transportable homes for rural living. This division offers concept homes derived from fifteen standard designs, falling roughly into three broad areas. Traditional range homes feature classic designs that sell well in southeast WA farming communities. Standard features usually include generous verandahs and wide frontages. Contemporary range homes offer a modern feel and are most popular in the northwest of the state. The Holiday Home range is intended for relaxing in the coastal areas of Western Australia.

Although Trans Homes works from standard designs, the company prides itself on tailoring individual homes to customer needs. “We are very open minded to people wanting to change those designs for their own requirements,” Mr Taylor explains. The branch considers itself a boutique service and believes that working closely with customers to match a home design to lifestyle requirements is a part of the job. Trans Homes also offers the services of an interior designer to help customers select external and internal colour schemes, fixtures, and fittings.

The group’s third branch, Kimberley Builders, primarily provides transportable government housing and remote area housing for indigenous communities. The company has, since 2008, been the preferred transportable building provider for the WA Department of Housing, building over 150 houses in that period. Through this contract, Kimberley Builders provides sturdy homes for Government Regional Officer Housing, low income housing, and indigenous needs. Kimberley Builders was started specifically to provide homes in Indigenous communities whose remote location and harsh climate pose certain challenges. The designs, therefore, are slightly different from those seen in Quality Builders Group’s standard commercial and residential structures. For the most part, Mr Taylor explains, they are “much more robust.”

In many ways, transportables sell themselves. As a whole, they are convenient, flexible, and save customers time and money. Quality Builders Group, however, has taken the basic transportables concept to a whole new level. The company isn’t afraid to utilise transportables in ways that no one else has thought to before, or to install them in areas too remote for other companies to traverse. By specialising via the three separate divisions, the company is able to take advantage of new ideas and thoughtfully implement challenging projects. Constant diversification has been a key to success, and Mr Taylor hopes to diversify even further in the future. For example, the concept of multi-storey transportable construction has been on the drawing board for years and ready to be implemented, particularly as demand grows in the Pilbara. He points out that, over the years, there have been “many, many competitors who last just a few years and then just disappear.” Quality Builders, on the other hand, “has been around for more than twenty five years and is fully intending to be around for the next twenty five years.”

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’?

June 2, 2020, 2:59 PM AEST