1 June 2022

Building a home or doing a renovation is a big deal - especially in the midst of a global pandemic. But for Wellington’s Wei Lin and Emily Rollason, clear communication and sound project management has made building their home an exciting and rewarding experience, which they credit to working alongside Master Builder Jarrad Tilyard from Kenepuru Homes. 

While the pandemic has placed additional strains on the sector, Wei and Emily have been feeling pretty comfortable with the build process. We recently caught up with Wei, Emily and Jarrad to discuss how their build journey is progressing, and what tips they have for those looking to build or renovate in the current environment. 

Wei and Emily, what’s changed since last time we caught up? 
We’re really excited to have made some great progress in the last few months. The earthworks were completed before the Christmas break, and the foundations are being laid now. Because the home is on a hill, the foundations have to be laid in multiple stages, and we know this stage takes time. After years of renting, we can’t wait to move into our own home. 

What has building your first home been like? 
It has been truly straightforward. We know that now is a tricky time for builders and thought there could be a few setbacks. But Jarrad and his team have done a fantastic job managing the entire process and keeping us informed on how the build is progressing. Like everyone, we’re busy people and we appreciate it when we can trust the experts to do it right and to communicate with us clearly along the way. Trying to coordinate contractors ourselves would have been too hard. Jarrad has his own team who work for him and even provides us with an app that tracks what has been added to the home in real-time. 

What changes have you made? 
We bought a home and land package, which makes the building process super easy. But we wanted to put our own stamp on the house and requested a few alternations, this included things like changing the flooring and fittings. Jarrad has been really accommodating and helped us make the right decisions. 

Jarrad, how are things with you? 
Things are going great. Twenty-twenty one was our busiest year on record, and 2022 is shaping up to be even bigger It was nice to have a break over Christmas, but it’s all engines go from here on out. As well as projects like Emily and Wei's I have also started a new 22-home development in Kenepuru. We are also just about to start an 11-home development in Paraparaumu. In the later part of the year, we have a 20-townhouse development in Wainuiomata to build, too. This scale means I have been able to employ a business development manager who will help us develop our company even further. 

Of course, the pandemic hasn’t been the easiest. But we’ve managed to weather the disruption fairly well through forward planning and managing expectations. Good communication and relationships are always important, but it’s proven to be even more so under present conditions. 
Wei and Emily’s build is progressing well, too. Working on a sloping site has its challenges which we were prepared for. I’m lucky enough to be building my own home next door – but I’ll be completing their one first! 

What’s it like being a builder at the moment? 
There has been a tonne of media coverage on the tricky situations builders are dealing with right now. Supply chain disruption, material prices and labour shortages aren’t helpful. But with careful planning and diligent administration, we are managing to make our way through these turbulent times. 

We have strong relationships with our suppliers, and we have been able to work closely with them to ensure we have what we need to reduce disruptions. We have a formula that works well for us; we work on larger scale developments and order in high volumes, we make sure to communicate well and pay our contractors and suppliers on time. And when we treat them with respect, acknowledging that they too are going through tricky times, they reciprocate and look after us where they can.  The days of being able to run a building company out of the back of your ute are numbered. In our current environment, it requires expert administration and communication to build projects efficiently and cost effectively whilst still making a profit.

Overall, the sector is also short on workers. That’s to be expected when we are dealing with record building demand across the country. Bringing in outside workers has also been tricky for the last couple of years due to Covid. We can see that these shortages are pushing rates up

What’s your advice for people looking to build? 
Despite the challenges, we still need to build more homes for Kiwis across the country. For any homeowner, it’s all about finding the right builder that you can work with. It is also good to ensure they are a Master Builder, then you know they are checked and backed by the association and of course can get the 10-year guarantee. House prices, construction costs and interest rates are all likely to increase, so you may as well get started now. 

The secret is to do your due diligence. There is no point in settling for an inexperienced builder. Find someone reputable and have a conversation with them about building in the current environment. While the company’s salesperson might sound convincing, it’s important to hear from the builders themselves. Builders who are sincere about the pressures the sector is facing and who are up front and honest are best. If you don't feel they are being completely open about the challenges now, it will be even more difficult once the build is underway. You want a builder who is realistic about timelines and cost structures and talks openly about risks and how to mitigate them. And make sure to talk to some of their previous clients, to see how they found working with them, through the good and the difficult decisions.

If you missed out on blog one, you can read it here.