Challenges Welcome

Good Constructions

A good son knows how to take care of his parents and that is how this company started. Jolyon, with a background as a carpentry apprentice, built a home for his parents in 1991. His wife joined him to start the business rolling. He then worked with a few smaller residential architects and the business grew to the thirty-five employees is has presently. After eight successful years, a joint venture was achieved which included his parents. His mother serves as a project manager.

“It was a great working relationship which gave me good grounding and good support,” says the company director. “Fate then intervened in the early nineties. I had a knee accident and was advised to get off the tools to take on more of a supervisory role. This forced me to develop the business and take on employees and staff. The business really grew from there. Everything happens for a reason and it was a positive experience in the end.”

Good Constructions is predominantly a building company that strives to get the best result within the client’s budget. The company is big enough that it can take on most projects that come across its desk, but small enough that its clients have access to all staff members as needed. Jolyon tries to make sure he is available whenever a client needs to contact him. He is also still involved with all onsite meetings.

The smaller projects encourage the company to go on to accomplish the larger ones. Some of those larger projects are commercial in nature and the company has been leaning more to the commercial side of late. This has necessitated the acquisition of new staff members to fill the need for talent in those areas.

The company has also been involved in renovating period homes over the last twelve months. A different set of contractors is needed to work with old homes, especially when it comes to managing a budget. Jolyon explains that this is something Good Constructions really enjoys doing as, with the older homes, one is managing a project in someone’s home which makes the job a lot more personal. Such work shows the ability of the company to work with a host of different architects having diverse capabilities.

“I think we have a very good reputation because we do get a few good architects ringing us up to tender projects. It’s always exciting when you get a lot of different architects that have different ideas. We do not have any in-house architects and have stayed away from that.” He explains that this is because, if a company has its own in-house team, other architects tend not to refer work to the company in case you then take the design work away from them.

The company has no plans to change that way of doing things in the foreseeable future. It is quite happy to manage the projects and work with certain architects. In a symbiotic relationship, it refers quite a few jobs to the architects and gets work from them in return.

Some projects can really test a company. With custom homes, clients will often approach Good Constructions with a design which looks great, but is incredibly challenging to execute. Every custom home is unique and there is no formula to building it.

“It happens a lot that we have to make changes to the original plan. Mostly it is from a financial point of view where the tender has come in, the prices don’t meet budget and the architects will ask us to come in and work on a value management plan.” It looks at what can be changed in order to get the price down to the budget that the clients want. At the same time it is design driven, and does not want to alter that aspect of the project while achieving savings.

“That happens on most projects. Most don’t come in on budget, so there needs to be a bit of value management. Recently there have been some where we have had to find 30 per cent savings because the client’s budget and the architect’s designs don’t marry up. This is where the builders are normally brought in to try and help make the job a go in the end.”

Good Constructions has a particularly demanding job at present in Middle Park on a house valued at approximately $2 million. “We are building a round house which is the most difficult and unique thing we have ever built. It is a home where everything from the walls to the glass is curved; everything is custom made. It has been an absolute challenge for everyone.” Luckily, it is working in collaboration with a very understanding client and architect on this long and very complicated project.

The company is known for taking on unique jobs. It has built a couple of apartments on top of existing buildings which is not that common in Melbourne. It has also fitted out some high end apartments in older buildings. Materials had to be moved in and out of the site via crane. Logistically, site access for something like this is tough to manage as is keeping the existing building occupants happy.

“It’s a matter of managing the engineers and consultants early on. It has to be carefully managed so there are minimal interruptions to the people below. That is the hardest thing – to try and keep everyone happy and keep the building process moving.”

Other logistical nightmares have arisen on a few inner city jobs. Typically, job access on these is incredibly difficult as overhead power lines mean that cranes cannot be used. Good Constructions has made a name for itself in taking these jobs on and it has paid off. The work is always worthy of pride when completed.

The company is at a bit of a turning point now. Jolyon has to weigh up how the company should grow and in what direction. “It’s something I haven’t had to worry about in the past, but things are constantly changing now. It’s one of those questions that I don’t presently have an answer for in terms of what our next step would be, but we are taking on more staff in the office, and they make some great decisions on our behalf.”

As for the future, the company is looking to build more residential projects and is receiving several requests to build multimillion dollar homes. To this end, it has formed a development group with another architect and financier and has recently finished off its first small project for this group. It will continue to hire more staff as more work is coming in. In terms of residential business, it has six months of work planned ahead and always looking for more. Most of this has been acquired through Jolyon’s chasing of contracts. The efforts of the past year are paying off.

“We have had quite a few opportunities with architects we have never worked with before and have managed to pick up a few more projects. We have also had quite a few clients that we have built for in the past few years who have referred us on to friends of theirs.” The economy is better than it was twelve months ago and Good Constructions is pretty secure due to the fact that it has a good eighteen months to two years worth of work ahead of it.

“Our business has gone incredibly well for the last twelve months,” shares Jolyon. “Last year was a very tough year and this year has been great! We have a really good pipeline ahead of us and a really good team around us now to support the business. Now we are just looking forward to some future growth.”

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’?

January 17, 2019, 6:01 AM AEDT