Business South August 2022

88 | Otago: BuildSmart Otago Building smarter is the way ahead Hugh de Lacy BuildSmart Otago does a wide variety of work in the Dunedin market. BUILDING A Dunedin firm has taken to a new level the obligation to keep its clients informed throughout the building process by issuing video-taped progress reports. BuildSmart Otago started in business in 2007 as Property Investment Construction, but changed its name three years later, and last year split its painting and decorating arm off as PaintSmart Otago, with both companies are based at the same premises. The mostly residential builder has made video-updating a point of difference in its service to clients by reporting regularly, through unlisted links on a YouTube channel, on the multitude of decisions that go into any project, be it a new house build or a renovation. For example, BuildSmart had a recent project of repairing a client’s house where the floor-joists were badly damaged by dry rot and borer infestation, and which were too light and placed too far apart anyway. Company part-owner Glen Williamson used his cellphone to video the scene after the floorboards had been ripped up to expose the badly deteriorated joists, and pointed out what would be needed to fix it: new heavier-grade treated joists and plates. The video was then forwarded to the client by email, allowing them to see exactly what the damage was and hear Ben’s spoken explanation of the necessary remediation work. When that work was complete, but before the floorboards went on, the client received another video showing the repairs to that stage, and further videos of other stages of the overall project as they were carried out. The advantage to the client is that they don’t have to make a leap of faith in the builder by virtually waving goodbye to the project at the start and not having any further to do with it till it’s complete. “We end up creating a full video-scope of the project that the client receives but no other party can access, so the client can understand the project,” Glen says. “Communicating with our clients is what we most care about.” The videos are particularly useful to clients commissioning work from a distance. For example, BuildSmart Otago recently renovated an old house for a client in France who received a succession of 30 to 40 videos of the process. “They were really confident in our work and the whole process because they were actually participating in the multitude of decisions that have to be made as a project like this unfolds,” Glen says. The other part-owner of BuildSmart is Shane Crossan, and both he and Glen are fully qualified as builders. A third principal in the organisation is Matt Flett, who’s a part-owner of PaintSmart Otago which Shane and Glen set up to give market identity to their painting and decorating arm, which takes on work from other contractors as well as BuildSmart. The building company has a staff of 16 and PaintSmart eight. Most of the building work comprises residential renovations and additions along with new homes and some light commercial work. The Dunedin market in which the two companies operate is a reflection of the wider New Zealand market at the moment: plenty of work on but facing major challenges in the form of materials and staff shortages. “The main materials we have trouble sourcing at the moment include timber, roofing iron, James Hardie products like Linea weatherboard and Rab-board, and Winstone products, especially Gib-board,” Glen says. Without intricate and detailed advanced planning, the materials shortages compound the difficulties in attracting and keeping skilled staff. “We don’t want to have to lay off people because we can’t get materials. “We’d just lose them: they’d go somewhere else,” he says. All New Work, Servicing & Repairs. Everything Electrical Domestic, Commercial and Industrial - New Builds - Rewiring - Alterations - LED Lighting - Inspections & Reports - New Switch Boards - Test & tag | Email: Call Jamie - 027 302 3864 Phone 0800 GEEVES • Fixed Steel Scaffolding • Swinging Stages • Mobile Aluminium Scaffolds • Event Scaffolds (concerts/stages) • Temporary Roof Structures Providing a wide range of services to Mid and South Canterbury Proud users of Proudly supporting BuildSmart Otago Ltd