Elliot Smith: our main man in Queenstown

Making the move to Queenstown to head up our new operation is Elliot Smith. He’s been racking up a variety of experience and carving his way through a wide range of projects with enthusiasm and skill.

Elliot started studying to be a quantity surveyor in 2014 while working for an interior fitout subcontractor. When gaining his diploma of Quantity Surveying and Construction Management, and wanting a new challenge, he joined White Associates in 2016. Since then he has become a valued team member, working across pre- and post-contract disciplines on numerous projects, and latterly moving into estimating while sharing time between both teams.

In terms of his post-contract QS work, he has worked on Christchurch Men’s Prison Management Unit ($22m), Marist Primary School new classroom development ($2.5m), a $16.5m residential renovation, and AMP’s $75m Bayfair mall expansion. He has also worked on the $35m Rapid Deployment of Prison Enhancements project for the Department of Corrections across Canterbury, in QS and procurement roles.

His pre-contract estimating and cost planning work has included the $30m manufacturing laboratory for Douglas Pharmaceuticals, and the $15m Saints apartments residential development in Auckland. He has also taken on bank funding work, joining our teams working on the projects in Cromwell and Jack’s Point.

Saying that he is enormously excited about the challenge of starting work in Queenstown, he says that it is a huge motivation to work in a new place on new projects, and to see the value that he and the team can add.

“Adding value the whole way through projects is what I’m after, working as a team alongside the consultants and main contractor to collaborate and come to a position that best suits the client through value management. Being on the ground in Queenstown 24/7 means we will be able to do so much more, and be more effective, by being face to face with clients and consultants.

“Having the support of a 28-person team in Auckland to assist me – to provide input and advice, plus skills and resource – gives me confidence. I can call upon any of them to assist, as we have a great management team that is keen to help. It is exciting times for the firm, and for me personally.”

Justin Maritz becomes White Associates director

White Associates is delighted to announce the appointment of Justin Maritz to Director.

Now joining Graham White, Konrad Trankels and Darin Bayer as fellow directors of the business, Justin started at White Associates as a Senior Cost Planner in 2013, progressing to Principal in 2016 and then to Associate Director last year. With over 22 years’ experience working across South Africa, the UK and New Zealand, Justin works closely with all areas of the business, applying his significant expertise in cost planning, estimating, value management and construction cost management across the public and private sectors.

Konrad Trankels says that he and Justin have been working together strategically on a number of projects and clients since 2013. “The success of our relationship and the projects we have delivered has given great confidence to our clients and has made the transition seamless for Justin to become a director.

“The influence Justin has had on the culture of our working environments, and in driving company and project initiatives, has shown his natural ability as a leader for our staff and clients. It makes him an obvious choice as a business partner for us.”

Graham White, Director of White Associates, says, “To maintain our position as an industry leader, and for our business to grow, we need to have the most talented and dedicated people in leadership positions in order to provide our clients with the highest possible level of service. The appointment of Justin does just that.

“Succession planning has always been a focus for White Associates. We look to provide opportunity through identifying, growing and developing our team and I’m thrilled Justin has moved into a prominent leadership role through this promotion.”

Justin says, “I’m excited to take on this new role and responsibility, and to be in such great and thriving company. We have an amazing team and culture that we have all worked hard to develop and look forward to continue to develop and grow as a team.”

“We are working with wonderful clients and project teams and really thrive when we are trusted partners in the process. Now, more than ever, projects need well thought out and planned processes, along with a team that will deliver excellent service for clients.”


Graham White made NZIQS Life Member

We are excited to report that the NZIQS Council has awarded White Associates founder and director Graham White life membership in recognition of his service to NZIQS and the industry.

NZIQS President Sam Lomax presented the award to Graham at the NZIQS Christmas function on Thursday 5th December in front of a packed audience.

Says Graham, now Life Member NZIQS, “This is a great honour, and a really nice surprise. It’s great to be recognised by your peers.”

Resilience on retreat!

Every second year we have a company retreat, in order to take time away from our day-to-day responsibilities and focus on bigger-picture topics that matter to us as individuals and as a company.

Always themed, our retreat focus this year was on Health and Wellbeing, a topic that is dominating conversations all around the country at the moment.

On our agenda was a half-day session with Brad Hook from The Resilience Institute, which was extremely well liked by all. His information was simple, and his Toolkit and Tricks – which we are reliably informed are backed by science – resonated with all of us. And then, not to make you laugh, we also did an hour’s Laughing Yoga session the following day! Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a photo of that for some reason…

At the end of the retreat we had a surprise team challenge: to build an innovative putt-putt golf hole. Through a series of quiz questions and tasks the team won ‘purchase power’ that enabled them to buy products from our ‘shop’: the theory being that the more items you purchased the better the hole became. In the end, after good team competition, a crazy hole was devised and we donated nearly 200 food items to Auckland City Mission.

White Associates Business Manager Michelle Pou said, “We’re big fans of the Auckland City Mission. Not only are we working to help the Mission redevelop its campus, but we enjoy every opportunity we get to get involved personally too.

“With Christmas coming up our focus turns to giving, and especially to those who are struggling in our society. So, to try to pull our weight with the Auckland City Mission, we’ve done a few small things to help. A number of our team, plus some friends and family, recently volunteered at the Auckland City Mission Distribution Centre, packing up a total of 157 emergency food parcels in three hours. We also ran a can drive in the office, with our staff donating about $200 worth of canned goods. And we all enjoyed the challenge on our retreat.

“We know these are mere drops in the bucket of support that the Mission needs, so we encourage you to see how you too can help them create and distribute the family food parcels that more and more people need each year.”

Please visit https://www.aucklandcitymission.org.nz/fundraising/food-parcels/ to see how you can get involved too.

White Associates to open Queenstown office in January

On 28 January 2020 White Associates will be opening its doors in Queenstown.

Led by up-and-coming White Associates Quantity Surveyor Elliot Smith, the new operation will take space in the Fluid shared office space at 10 Memorial Street to offer our full range of estimating, cost planning, construction cost management and funding representation services; the base for White Associates’ work from Christchurch down to Invercargill.

Graham White says, “After talking about this for a long time, and doing more and more work in Queenstown, Christchurch, and across Otago and southland, we are now taking the logical step of establishing a full-time presence on the ground in what is becoming an increasingly important part of the country for us.

“This move to put one of our young leaders on the ground, backed by our full resources in Auckland, has been really well received so far. And now we have the right person to lead our work here, so it is the right time to make the move. It has taken us a while to find the right person to represent us and build our business in the region; someone who meets our high standards and values. This is critically important.

“Elliot is just the person for the job. Not only is he immensely capable but he has also been keen for a while to get involved. As a regular visitor to the region for years, he has the skills to help many businesses across the region and a love of the place itself. Wanting a change in lifestyle with his partner has enabled White Associates to confidently step forward into Queenstown, as Elliot has shown us not just the experience and expertise of what he does on projects but the value he brings to our clients and projects through building solid relationships.” 

“I will also be visiting once a month, as we are working on a number of projects across the region for banks, developers, corporates and QLDC.”

Elliot says, “This is a really exciting time for White Associates, and for me personally. It is great opportunity for White Associates to add value to the market, and for me to further myself as a QS, help grow White Associates in this region, which has such huge potential. I’m really looking forward to making the move next month.”

Moving (mulch) mountains

On Sunday 15th September the White Associates team got stuck in (at times literally!) at the Orangihina-Harbourview Park Planting Day organised by the Te Atatu Marae Coalition and Sustainable Coastlines.

Our team of mulch shifters showed some impressive White Associates muscle in helping to move a 70m2 mountain of mulch and dig in 2500 native plants, as part of an initiative to honour the thousands of New Zealand servicemen who have fallen in the line of duty and to commemorate the 51 lives lost in Christchurch earlier this year. The new planting is also designed for the benefit of the awa flowing through the park, the wildlife that relies on them and the people who enjoy them.

The White Associates team ran a bacon and egg BBQ before the planting event started, to set everyone up for three hours of mulch shifting, tree planting and rubbish collection. Then, after welcomes, a karakia and brief formalities, including some encouraging words from mayoral candidate John Tamihere, planting got underway.

The 51 lives lost in Christchurch were represented by planting 49 native rongoā plants and 2 kauri that were then surrounded by 20 harakeke (native flax) which will serve to shelter the plants and represent the support of the local community embracing the Muslim community.

“It was an honour to be present for the memorial planting of 51 trees to commemorate the lives lost in Christchurch,” said team member Richard Moore. “It was a good day for the mental health of our team, our interconnection with the greater community, and the sustainability of our environment.”

The event even featured on Te Ao Māori news – check it out HERE:

White Associates Maori Television Quantity Surveying Sustainable Coastlines
NZIA White Associates


Congratulations to the many amazing projects that have won prominent awards recently. The recent NZIA Auckland Architecture Awards honoured the best new architecture in the region. The many successful projects included four we’re proud to be involved with:

And then, at the Property Industry Awards, the B:Hive won an Excellence Award in the RCP Commercial Office Property Award Category, and the Admin Building at Auckland Zoo – nominated for Holmes Tourism & Leisure Property Award!

White Associates NZ Living

Creating a successful KiwiBuild formula

At a time when the Government’s KiwiBuild housing programme has come under sharp public criticism, and has even seen the reshuffle of the minister leading it, one Auckland developer is defying the critics with the delivery of quality homes on a budget through the initiative.

NZ Living has already built and sold 10 KiwiBuild homes to buyers as part of its Mason Apartment Development in Otahuhu (pictured above), with more in the pipeline in Onehunga and Northcote.

With prices for KiwiBuild homes in Auckland capped at $500,000 for 1 bedroom, $600,000 for 2 bedrooms and $650,000 for 3 bedrooms, the onus is on developers to think outside the box to generate returns.

NZ Living, which is led by Waiheke Island-based couple Shane and Anna Brealey, has shown it can be profitable thanks to a successful business model built on effective people management and a lean system of delivery, inspired by the Japanese Kaizen approach to continuous improvement.

Shane Brealey says as both builder and funder, with one architect and one engineer on the team, NZ Living doesn’t tender or negotiate work. Instead the company takes a partnership model, which has seen it retain 90% of the team from one project to the next.

“We don’t deal with retentions and argue nickel and dimes with our contractors and subbies, but we do expect them to buy into the continuous improvement idea. This allows us to capture learnings and constantly refine our designs and building methodologies to the point we use half the amount of architectural drawings now from when we first started. It’s not about sacrificing on quality of materials or design, it’s just about a more efficient way of working.”

Graham White says that this meant that White Associates did a cost plan that was much more than a budget, and enabled NZ Living to go to the subcontractor market to validate the costs.

“When all the subbie pricing was in,” says Graham, “we reviewed the prices to ensure they stacked up. This is a great approach: not only did it save time, but Shane and Anna got the team they wanted, which is a huge advantage.”

With this streamlined, production-line approach to development, NZ Living has been able to significantly reduce costs, by Brealey’s estimate, of 50% less per square metre to build compared to a standard apartment per square metre cost. To highlight this on its last project, the development not only came in on budget but there was no need to tap into the contingency either.

Brealey says White Associates has played an important supporting role in this approach.

“Konrad and Graham were involved at the very start of our journey in validating our early designs and cost estimates, which led to ongoing support in the form of monthly reviews of our financials. What’s also been very beneficial is the fact White Associates also acts as the QS with our banks. The resulting levels of cooperation built on high levels of trust and transparency, results in an extremely efficient drawdown process for us.”

Graham White says that White Associates has enjoyed working with NZ Living over the last two years. “We went through and did a cost plan for NZ Living, reviewed the feasibility, represented the bank funding the development, and then reviewed all subcontract pricing. They are an impressive outfit – very lean and hands-on: a partnership that delivers.”

With a proven delivery formula and a supportive financing model, Brealey says he is looking forward to growing NZ Living’s scale, and building more homes as part of the KiwiBuild Programme in the future. “All we need now is for the Government to up its game with communication to the development market and relax its screening process so we can get more players helping to deliver the thousands of homes needed.”

White adds that in his view, now there has been a Cabinet reshuffle, it is pretty likely that KiwiBuild as a brand will disappear, but even under some other brand the initiative will still continue. “We still need housing at this price point,” he says. “The Government needs to support the initiative and can even do more to make more land available for development. In short, we think that the Government can do more to assist developers, and KiwiBuild – or whatever it becomes – has a role to play in helping to underwrite purchasers, free up the supply of land, and enable the intensification we need. “After all, the huge advantage of KiwiBuild to the development sector is the speed with which you can start construction, not needing to have pre-sold such a high percentage of unit. Essentially it takes the sales period down from eight months to eight hours.”

White Associates Quantity Surveyor Keystone Trust

Supporting the future of our industry with Keystone

At a time of constant pressure on property and construction project deliverability, it is exciting for us to get involved in supporting the future of our industry by signing up to become a sponsor of the Keystone Trust.

Formally the Keystone New Zealand Property Education Trust, it is a tremendous initiative that was set up twenty five years ago to give students a hand-up into property related tertiary studies.

We were attracted to the trust not just by the fantastic work that Keystone does and the stellar range of organisations it has attracted, but more importantly by the opportunity to get involved with supporting the future of our industry.

“As we cover so many aspects of the development and construction worlds, and interact with so many aspects of them before, during and after construction, for us it was a no-brainer to want to get involved in Keystone so we can learn more about, support and provide opportunities for the young people who will contribute to our shared future.”

                                                   – Graham White, White Associates Director

It was a pleasure to meet students Jay Jay and Asalemo and are really excited to meet more of the students and other organisations involved in the life of this vibrant organisation.

White Associates Keystone Trust