Auckland City Mission: HomeGround

Pioneering. Groundbreaking. Leading edge. These are often-overused words in the world of construction. However, in the case of Auckland City Mission HomeGround, they are not just an accurate, fair description of ambition in action, but they are the starting point for a truly impressive accomplishment emerging in the centre of Auckland.

All the way back in 2007, well before the dark days of the global financial crisis, the Auckland City Mission ran a design competition to create a new complex on its central-city Hobson Street site. Won by Stevens Lawson Architects, a vision was born for not just a new multi-storey facility that would provide integrated wraparound services and accommodation for some of the city’s most vulnerable people, but for a structure that would be built in an entirely more sustainable manner.

Fast-forward thirteen years and the dream is now becoming reality. Work is well underway on site to build the nine-storey Auckland City Mission HomeGround, the tallest building to use cross-laminated timber for its core structural strength in New Zealand.

Since the earliest stages, White Associates has been intimately involved in this project that will house 80 apartments to provide safe, permanent shelter for people, a place where the Mission can support, share and connect with those who need it most. It will also offer low-cost medical treatment and prepare wholesome meals for visitors to its community centre. The new medical centre and pharmacy, being created as part of the project, will include a state-of-the-art 25-bed social and medical detox unit in conjunction with Auckland and Waitemata District Health Boards, increasing the service in central Auckland by 50% with space for 250 admissions and 1825 additional bed stays.

The project has involved a wide range of White Associates skillsets, from the estimating detail skills applied by Konrad Trankels and Justin Maritz, to the bank funding and pre-condition reports reviews undertaken by Darin Bayer, and the post-contract skills now being applied daily by Brett Zeiler and John Hugo McGrath. In short, it’s a full-court press as the team works to help the Mission to deliver this landmark project within an evolving, fundraising-driven budget.

Ambition = QS challenges x3

As so often happens, with pioneering ambition comes complexity and challenge – and this project is not short of any of them. So, what are the biggest challenges here?

Brett Zeiler, who leads the post-contract quantity surveying work for White Associates on the project, says that they come in three main flavours: firsts, fire and funding.

Firsts

“Firstly, this project is one of the tallest timber building in New Zealand. It is revolutionary in its use of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) on such a large scale. CLT is undoubtedly the answer to building sustainably, adding value to a natural, renewable resource through technology – as well as fast, safe, economical and good for the planet. However, as anyone who has been on a construction site knows, when a new material or method is introduced to site it adds dimensions of uncertainty and risk. All of these can add time and cost to a project.

 

“It is true that the timber product, which is being supplied by XLam, has been used on numerous smaller projects around New Zealand, but it has never been used in a project of this size or in this part of the city. Because the structure above Level 2 is being made out of timber, the team has had to put some serious time and effort into understanding it, with many meetings with XLam to gain specialist knowledge of the system and the construction methodology.”

 

“Now, however, as the build progresses the team are getting to know the product and the system, we are beginning to understand it and become more comfortable with it. It is good to watch the installation team getting into their rhythm on site, it is becoming clear that they too are becoming confident with the methodology involved. That has been a real highlight of the project for me; being exposed to it, how it works, how it affects different elements of design, architecture, and seeing how the consultancy team have dealt with all of the new systems involved.”

CLT designed buildings have been at the forefront of design in recent years across Australia however New Zealand’s unique Volcanic landscape has meant that a more cautious approach has been taken hence the landmark status of this project. The understanding of the seismic requirements in a timber structure of this size in a country with a known earthquake risk has meant that the engineers have had to pioneer their way to a solution.

Fire

Fire rating requirements were a related challenge, says John-Hugo McGrath, who works daily on the project.

“One of the major elements was gaining an understanding of how the key requirements for the timber structure differed from the conventional steel and concrete, a part of this involved understanding how Council was treating the fire design and the implications their calculations had on the design and in turn cost.

 

“To address the challenge, we went through the design options and reviewed the acceptable solutions, we then carried out a cost analysis on the viable options and presented the most cost-effective options to the team. Knowing the options we had to work with allowed the consultancy team and the contractor to identify which option presented the most favourable methodology thus resulting in a solution that was the most cost and time effective for the client”.

The process involved considerable interaction with the Fire engineers and the Architects, he says.

“We worked through numerous options and gained valuable insight into the inner workings of the fire requirements with a CLT system, we reached the right solution with the team and have overcome what was definitely a hurdle at one stage.”

Funding and Project cashflow

One of the continual challenges on a project that continues to involve significant public fundraising is cashflow funding, says Brett. 

“The Mission has undertaken fundraising for different aspect of the project from the general public and grants from DHBs, council and government. This means that from a QS perspective we need to isolate costs from the medical/detox floors and relate them back to grants for specific works.

 

“There’s no doubt that it has been more complicated with multiple sources of funding, as we need to show that funds are being used for their intended purposes. We have therefore been through a process to work alongside the contractor, so as we get prices in for trades, we can split out the required levels of cost. This has involved significant collaboration with the contractor to extrapolate the required information and present it clearly. Our bank funding team has been extremely helpful in all of this work, which has run since the estimating phase through to now.”

John Hugo adds that the unique nature in which the Mission relies heavily on public donations to fund the project has meant that the team has had to work closely with the Mission to inform them frequently on their cashflow forecasting.

“By doing this we have been able to ensure the Mission is in a position to understand their donation targets and push donation drives to guarantee they have the capital to cover for upcoming payments as and when they are due”.

Procurement

The procurement process has been another key process within this project, adds John Hugo.

“To gain an early start we tendered a P&G Margin contract to get a contractor on board, and then tendered trade packages until we had a 60% lump sum before commencing on site. This was a fairly unique process but was used out of necessity. Since then we have been working on an open book basis to procure the remaining 40% of trades as and when the design has progressed”

 

The open book basis has allowed us to ensure the contractor has obtained competitive market pricing on each trade through the tender process. “The number of moving parts involved in this process has meant that we have had to reassure the client and provide them with confidence of an accurate forecast cost as we progress through the trades”.

A collaborative approach with the contractor has meant the team has had the ability to engage with the trades and provide a more in-depth oversight throughout the entire process to ensure the trade prices are in line with expectations and represent a value for money.

Value first

Speaking of value, Brett adds, Value engineering has also played a significant part of White Associates’ role.

“Understanding the purpose of the building and nature of the client – being a charity organisation, it made sense that the design was fit for purpose. Given we are dealing with public money and donations, we have worked on a real value engineering drive, focusing on targeting a level of spec in the building that is appropriate for its intended uses, prioritising durability, longevity, things that will last, always being cost-conscious. That said, we don’t want to be penny-wise, pound foolish; we have been targeting the right cost for the right design life.”

The procurement nature of the project has allowed us insight into the design at a stage where we have been able to review and provide cost conscious alternatives to the client and engage in active talks with the Contractor as to how to better the buildability which ultimately results in cost savings.

This cost-focused and innovative approach to design, materials, procurement, methodology and funding has required a solid and collaborative team, he adds.

“The team has been really good. Everyone from the architects to the engineers understands what we are working on and why it is important. This has kept the Mission and the project’s outcome at the forefront of every meeting. We can all see that coming through in the way people are working, ultimately focused on the benefit this project will bring to the people who will live there as well as the Mission’s staff and volunteers.”

Focused on the future

The team is now working cohesively towards the end goal, with everyone focused on the same objectives, says Brett.

“Morale is great, and we applaud the Auckland City Mission for being the first to take the sustainable path forward. They are paving the way, providing lessons to be learnt so other people can follow. It is great that they have taken the initiative, and it is great to be part of the process.”

John-Hugo agrees.

“The design is pretty amazing. Knowing that it is made out of a pioneering technology gives us all a strong feel-good factor, knowing we are contributing to something that will serve people, and that they will be grateful for it. The project will make a truly meaningful impact; it’s not a tiny house, it’s a nine-storey building. It will make a big difference.”

Find out more about HomeGround here >>

 

Construction Projects: How to tackle the unknown impacts of Covid-19

At a time when the Rebuilding Together budget shows the Government reaching deep into its economic trouser pocket to stimulate activity in an effort to reduce the Covid shock, at White Associates we anticipate a massive period of unknowns for our industry.

Among our significant learnings over the past seven weeks, this is one that we hope might help you emerge from your bubbles into this new world of rapidly shifting uncertainty:

Get together to tackle consequences and compensation

The consequences of the total construction shutdown under Level 4 are not just economic in nature. Commercially, many contractors will understandably seek compensation after losing money as sites, staff and machinery sat idle. We are now grappling with the idea of ‘your project will be late’, resetting timelines and assessing contractor entitlements.

The consequences of level 4 are almost straightforward in comparison with the complexities involved in assessing and resolving entitlements arising as a result of Level 3 restrictions. Allowed to do some work, contractors had to operate under a complicated social distancing regime, which had the effect of slowing things down – working, but not as efficiently as before. It is more complicated to determine the effects of Level 3 on delivery programmes. Will it prolong project durations or cause increase costs? How much should contractors be compensated for time and cost, and their subcontractors?

These are the high-level factors impacting project delivery.

But the challenges don’t end there. We also have to consider the impact of closed/restricted borders. With various elements of materials and labour imported, will costs escalate? It may be prudent to consider, locally sourced, alternative products.

Every little aspect will have implications on programme and budget.

When faced with a plethora of challenges, you need a great team of consultants to help manage your contract and budget. You want to have good people on your side, actively engaging with the contractor to find pragmatic solutions.

Avoiding massive contractual claims, maintaining open conversations and finding ways forward as a team – these must be key priorities going forward.

We encourage project stakeholders to sit down with their QS to identify risks, defuse issues and establish a constructive way forward.

4 ways to tackle the unknowns:

  1. Understand your liabilities
  2. Get good advice
  3. Ensure you have the right team in place
  4. Get together now: sit down with your project team, assess your situation and try to sort things out.
White Associates Anniversary Logo

15 Years Absolute Dependability

 

IT’S NOT THE YEARS OF YOUR BUSINESS,

BUT THE BUSINESS IN YOUR YEARS.

The relationships you form, you nurture, you grow.

For White Associates, quantity surveying is more than technical project calculations – it’s a promise of seeing the bigger picture, being fully responsive and delivering projects with complete financial confidence.

What started in an office the size of a broom cupboard has now grown to a dynamic team of near 30 staff.  Some long-serving, some new, but all with one thing in common: integrity.

An integrity that has been building dependable structures across New Zealand for over a decade. Joining the dots, connecting the disconnected, our role is integral to success. Bringing together the moving parts of the construction process with absolute dependability.

None of this would be possible without the right people, and the right culture to fuel them. We believe in an environment where development is encouraged through mentorship. Flexible in how individuals prefer to work, with a company-wide camaraderie that means we continually support one another, and our clients.

Constantly challenging ourselves in what we do and how we do it. Particularly now during the uncertain and changing times we face, our demonstrated adaptability will prove essential for our viability. We are grateful to be celebrating 15 years in business.

We evaluate. We review. We evolve. That’s how you build. That’s how you move skyward.

On to the next 15.

Read more about our journey here

FUNDING CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS DURING COVID-19

Your questions answered:

Amid the rapidly evolving environment of the COVID-19 outbreak, at White Associates we are working with our clients to undertake risk analysis on existing and new projects, addressing questions for funders on risks that may impact the construction industry and project funding across procurement, supply chain and resourcing:

Key questions funders need to ask:

  1. How will COVID-19 affect my current and future projects?
  2. What trade components resources are affected?
  3. How best to manage the risks?
  4. Will insurance policies respond to COVID-19 delays – and what to watch out for if sites are suspended?
  5. Will contractors be entitled to extensions of time if COVID-19 delays a project?
  6. How is White Associates responding to the risks and reporting back?

Does this situation also present opportunities?

To answer these questions:

1) How will COVID-19 affect my current and future projects?

Current projects:

  • If a project is in its early stages of procurement, the need exists to examine the supply chain to probe for any issues.
  • It is also worth:
    • Examining locally-sourced product options to see if a project would be de-risked from a time and cost perspective through a local supply option
    • Exploring whether social distancing recommendations affect immediate supply chain availability, site resourcing
    • Understanding contingency plans for key personnel in the event of illness.
  • Later on in a project, supply chain constraints may not be so much of an issue, but consideration still needs to be given that you’ve looked into the supply chain to ensure that there are no significant constraints.

Future projects:

  • Thinking about the spreading ripples of this evolving crisis, what resources, materials and stocks will run out over time and cause issues along the planned critical path for the planned project?
  • This requires a thorough, rigorous risk assessment to be completed by the full project team to satisfy the funder that the borrower has considered everything, and to ensure that any risks associated with components of the project are being properly managed. For example, as much of the world appears to be shutting down, are the factories needed for the project operating – and if so, for how long? And how long will it take for a delivery backlog to unclog?
  • Is the project team examining options to bulk-buy materials well ahead of time – and are their cashflows up to it in the event the contract doesn’t entitle payment for materials off site?

Potential impacts for funders:

  • Increased costs for projects, unforeseen before the event
  • Increased contingency expenditure
  • Project is prolonged – which could affect deliverable sunset dates and interest cover provisions.

2) What trade components and resources are affected?

White Associates’ observations of construction components that may be affected include:

  • Structural steel – A significant volume of steel components come from China. We understand production is once again gaining momentum. However, there may be potential supply issues until mid- to late this year.
  • Lifts – some lifts are sourced from Italy and other parts of Europe, with delays associated with the current shutdown of the country borders and production.
  • Reinforcing steel – is one component that no significant supply restraints are currently anticipated as most steel is refined at Glenbrook here in NZ, with only a handful of NZ reinforcing steel companies sourcing product from China. However, most reinforcing steel companies in New Zealand have Italian equipment. This could create problems if they don’t have enough spare parts to cover inevitable breakdowns, which could reduce capacity to operate.
  • Glazing/ façade components – there is potential for these components, which are manufactured and shipped from China, to be delayed due to the initial closure of factories and likely border controls.
  • Plumbing fittings/ electrical components – there may be shortages in supply of these items given the closure of factories and ports in China. In addition, European and American fittings will be affected.
  • Kitchen components – many large-scale developments source joinery units from China. There may be a lag in being able to obtain these components in a reasonable timeframe until production catches up.
  • Tiles – many wall and floor tiles are sourced from China and Italy. Supply constraints may be apparent as NZ stock runs out.
  • Ripple factor: Human Resources – in the event of a COVID-19 case in an organisation associated with your development, the company could be shut down for two weeks (minimum) during the quarantine process. There will also be reduced productivity for a time until full production is reached.

There are a number of other components in construction that are 100% manufactured or assembled elsewhere in the world with components sourced in the countries which have been affected by COVID-19. As the situation develops, the risk of each of the components may increase or decrease, with the influencing factor being how long the COVID-19 crisis persists. Therefore, we recommend that:

  • Additional due diligence – undertaken on existing projects and projects at the inception stage around the contractors, subcontractors and supplier procurement.
  •  Risk management and up-front planning – essential to ensure continuity on projects and to manage risks associated with projects becoming prolonged.

Potential impacts for funders:

  • Moving to alternative suppliers may lead to increased project costs, unforeseen before the event.
  • Contingency expenditure could be required.
  • Prolonged projects could affect deliverables, sunset dates and additional interest and funding costs.

3) How best to manage the risks?

Engagement with the contractor is key – to fully and comprehensively understand their procurement and supply chain, and any inherent risks within it. This is fundamental.

Then we recommend working proactively together to understand (and ensure) that:

  • A full risk assessment has been made.
  • Detailed contingency plans have been put in place.
  • Any associated costs and time implications are known, quantified and accommodated within the project plan.

4) Will insurance policies respond to COVID-19 delays – and what to watch out for if sites are suspended?

A number of insurers have been quick to issue guidance to the market in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. One of them is AON, which has offered a number of useful pointers in its Know the Drill | March 2020, Coronavirus Virus/COVID-19 | Policy Wordings vs Schedules bulletin, which includes:

  • Most insurance policies in the construction sector will not cover losses arising from COVID-19. Property policies require physical damage and liability policies require negligence. Focus should be on the impact of the situation on your policies.
  • Does the contract works policy have a cessation clause in it? This means if there is no work onsite for a specific number of days (as per the policy) the contract works policy automatically lapses. This could unexpectedly leave the contact works uninsured.
  • What are the lead times to order/source supplies? Do you need to be ordering more/holding stock yourselves?

What to watch out for if sites are suspended?

  • In the event that a site is suspended it will be imperative to notify your broker or insurer to ensure continuity of your policy during the suspension period.

In any event, we recommend that:

  • You talk with a specialist broker or advisor if you have any concerns about either of these points or any wider concerns.
  • As AON says: You should always carefully check any policy documentation where your expectation is that you will have the benefit of the insurance coverage procured by a third party (be it a Principal or a Head Contractor). If in any doubt, seek advice from your insurance broker as the downside can be considerable.

Potential impact for funders:

–       A project could become uninsured if a site is shut down for a period of time.

5) Will contractors be entitled to extensions of time if COVID-19 delays a project?

They may be. Simpson Grierson, in its recently published guidance note, says that in some cases contractors may be entitled to extensions of time for such delays. We concur with these guidelines.

The type of contract in place is important. Clause 10.3.1(f) of the General Conditions of The most commonly used contract version, NZS3910:2013, provides that the Engineer shall grant an extension of time if the Contractor is fairly entitled to an extension by reason of “any circumstances not reasonably foreseeable by an experienced contractor at the time of tendering and not due to the fault of the Contractor”. This provision is replicated in NZS3916:2013.

‘Provided tendering took place prior to the outbreak of the virus, the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on production and supply chains could not have been reasonably foreseeable to a Contractor.’

We recommend that:

  • The borrower and their representatives review their contracts to ascertain the contractor’s entitlement and establish potential time and cost impacts on their projects.

Potential impacts for funders:

  • The role of the Engineer – and the term ‘fairly entitled’ – are in the spotlight here. The Engineer’s determination that the Contractor is (or is not) ‘fairly entitled’ to an extension will be key. Simpson Grierson’s view is that relevant factors to this determination could include ‘the Contractor’s ability to re-sequence works to avoid any critical delay and the particular circumstances of procurement of the delayed materials.’
  • Even if entitled to an extension of time and relief from liquidated damages for late completion, the contractor may not be compensated for time-related construction costs.
  • Prolonged projects could affect deliverables, sunset dates, facility expiry dates which could create additional interest and other time-related development costs.

6) How is White Associates responding to the risks and reporting back?

At White Associates, we are working with our clients to undertake risk analysis on existing and new projects with regard to procurement. Our actions include:

Right now:

  • On every project we are involved in we are asking:
    • Thorough questioning of the project team on their procurement and supply chain
    • For information on all/any risks
    • Management plans are in place to reduce the risks.
  • We are also providing alternative supplier options where possible (such as an alternative, locally-based lifts supplier in the example given above).

Looking ahead:

  • Full risk assessment – a major part of our precondition report information will include a section on supply chain risks associated with a project and COVID-19, with commentary and in-depth analysis.

Does this situation also present project opportunities?

Amid this global threat it may seem odd to consider it, but the current situation does provide opportunities in various sectors – such as retail and hospitality – to bring forward / undertake required maintenance or significant renovations or upgrades while visitor and occupancy levels are low.

Undertaking projects of this sort at this time:

  • Would cause reduced disturbance to the public and to the organisation’s customer base
  • Could be undertaken without a requirement for staging, which could also reduce time and cost.

Should you have any concerns about your existing project, or if you’d like to discuss the items noted in this bulletin further, please feel free to contact Darin Bayer to discuss.

dbayer@whiteassociates.co.nz

Team approach unlocks success at Mt Eden Corrections Facility

At White Associates we often write about the significant – yet all-too often under-rated – value of strong project teams (see Graham’s comments on the Mt Eden Correctional Facility opening on time and on budget here).

Few projects we have worked on have proven the immense value of team cohesion more than the recent and successful completion of the c.$100m Mt Eden Corrections Facility (MECF): on time, within budget, and relationships enhanced across the board.

What factors underpinned the project’s success?

  1. ‘Well begun is half done’ is an oft-quoted phrase that in our world of cost management translates to starting a project with correct estimates and budget allocations for the scheme of the design. Although this is often challenging to achieve in the current market, on MECF everyone began from the same starting point, with the same goal and direction to make things happen. This included the design and consultant teams – including WSP, Beca, Honeywell, us, and the Corrections project team itself – and the contractor, Leighs Construction.
  1. Very close communication. Occupying the same site office, the various teams were only separated by the foyer, which enabled anyone across the breadth of the team to walk into each other’s rooms to discuss and resolve any issues swiftly and efficiently. With clear communication, instruction became highly effective and decisions could be made and executed quickly. In turn, this enabled great:
  2. Teamwork – across the whole team of consultants and the contractor. Brett Zeiler of White Associates says: “If every job could have this level of input from people on site, able to have quick meetings, everything would go well. No other job I have been involved with has had this level of representation on site permanently. What it did was to speed up the response times for the contractor when raising an RFI – and for the consultant closing it out. To me that is what made the project: it took the wind out of waiting times.”

Overcoming challenges

Of course, even when things are set up well, projects still generate challenges to be overcome. On MECF they included:

  • Market challenges – a booming construction sector created challenges to secure the right people and resources for the work through the project’s life. This had three elements:
    1. Procurement challenges – White Associates supported a thorough process that involved detailed up-front due diligence. This ensured the right contractor for the job to start with: with the right people in the team, the project could get going well
    2. Keeping people on the project throughout its 2.5 year life – It was very hard to keep subcontractors on this multi-year project, particularly on margins agreed three years before. Clear costing and reporting helped to manage this challenge, and detailed workflow planning over the life of the project ensured continuity of workflow and programme, which helped the project to keep people on the team and retain knowledge on site throughout.
    3. Financial – costs in this environment are high. We therefore checked and compared all construction costs to market value to provide cost advice to the client and contractor, and ensured that work costs were applicable to the work that was carried out on site.
  • Challenging ground conditions – These were managed initially through seeking out alternative, more efficient solutions. We generated estimates on the alternatives and ran a thorough optioneering process that helped to create the selection of a strong solution. And, because the team working environment was so strong, we could get instructions through quickly. This meant we could anticipate costs so the client had the opportunity to explore alternatives before costs were locked in.
  • A confined site, in a live prison – This creates unexpected challenges because the on-site team can only work within specific hours, meaning that any programme slippage is hard to recover as opportunities for working at night or over the weekend for example did not exist. Meticulous planning ensured that everyone did what they said they would do and when, and kept the programme on track.

Adding value:

We are proud to have been active participants in this project, working to add value through:

  • Providing cost advice for the designers to see if there was any room for value engineering. For example, on the yard extension works, when the designers came through with options we advised as to which would offer best value for money, which contributed to saving an estimated $3 million on yard A alone.
  • Suggesting ideas on specs and products, for example non-pick sealants. We measured carefully to get the amounts right, working closely with the contractor to do site measurements together and prevent any over-claims.
  • Providing cost estimates for variations to make the client aware of how much additional activities would cost.
  • The façade – at the time of tender there was an alternative façade tender that would have saved money, but going with the originally specified product we felt was a good decision: going for long-term quality over short-term savings.

Mt Eden Corrections Facility opens on time and budget

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis MP took a trip to Mt Eden as the VIP guest for the opening ceremony to mark the completion of the Mt Eden Corrections Facility (MECF) Building C.

This c.$100 million project, which has been under construction for about two and a half years, has involved the construction of approximately 200 remand and at-risk cells by Leighs Construction, on time and within budget.

From working on the project inception in 2016, Konrad Trankels has managed the project from business case implementation through to selecting Leighs to build the project and now to final account. The MECF project was in response to the growing demand for beds and was part of the overall Prison Capacity Portfolio (PCP) also including Waikeria Prison currently under construction.

Graham White says the successful delivery of the project is an outstanding team achievement within an operational prison environment and in a tough construction market.

“It has just been an exceptional project. In this market everyone is under so much pressure; resourcing projects is very difficult, so this is a shining example of what can happen when the right team comes together in the right way.”

 

“The relationships that have developed between the client, consultants, us and the construction team on this project are exceptional. Because the site compound included the client team and all consultants, as well as contractors, it created a genuinely collegial way of doing things, enabling the face-to-face conversations that made things so much clearer – and decisions made quicker. Brilliantly led by Simon Thomson (Works Lead), and Patrick Dowe (Senior Project Manager), the right people have all been involved: all the companies have put great people here, and the gelling of the team in one place has had enormous benefits.”

 

“I’m pleased that we were able to play our part along the way in terms of cost estimates, advice and options that helped to save money and chart the way forwards. If you want an example of a job that went really well, look at this one.”

White Associates Anniversary Logo

Reflecting on 15 years

IT’S NOT THE YEARS OF YOUR BUSINESS,

BUT THE BUSINESS IN YOUR YEARS.

With the nation in lockdown, those of us fortunate enough to be able to transport our offices home are now getting used to the ‘new normal workday’.

But today is not just a ‘normal workday‘  for us here at White Associates as we celebrate a great milestone: our 15th anniversary as a business.

So much has happened since White Associates was formed in 2005. We have evolved beyond all recognition in terms of the numbers of people in the team – now 28 – plus the scale of the work we do, the territories we cover across New Zealand, and in the way we work as people, in teams and as a business.

It gives all four of our directors – Darin, Justin, Konrad and Graham – a huge sense of satisfaction to see not only how much the company has grown and evolved over the last fifteen years, but also to still have many clients who have been with White Associates from day one.

Graham White says:

“It makes me enormously proud to step back and see that we have enormous capabilities spread right across New Zealand, which were further strengthened recently when we opened our Queenstown office. The complexity and value of the work we do has increased beyond all recognition, and the way our people work is entirely geared to providing stunning service. I honestly feel that we have no limits on what we can do. I am immensely proud of our team.

 

“I am most proud of the fact that we are still doing what we always have, which is to embrace people and do things the Whites way. Absolute dependability is still at the heart of what we deliver, as we are emphasising with our special 15-year logo, and looking after our team and creating the right culture have always been huge things for us; we value hugely everyone who works here. Their wellbeing is not just a tick box: it is really important, so even as we work at all times to improve our bottom line we want to do it in a way so people enjoy their work and know that they are valued.”

Konrad Trankels adds,

“Sustainability, development and growth are key themes for the future of White Associates. We want a business that is sustainable long term, so we’ve always got to make sure it is a place of interest for our people. We have always had culture in our minds, and in our view the more responsibility and freedom you give people, the more successful you become. If our people are happy and engaged at work then the rest is straightforward.”

When looking out over the next fifteen years and beyond, he says:

“We need to constantly challenge ourselves in what we do, how we recruit, the technology we use, the way we do things and what we want to achieve for our clients. Our industry has changed has so much over the fifteen years, and buildings are becoming more and more complex in so many ways. If we continue to push and challenge, we will only become more relevant into the future.”

Introducing: Corize Olivier

We offer a warm welcome to our latest cadet, Corize Olivier, who joined us at the end of last year.

Arriving into New Zealand from South Africa two and a half years ago, Corize has numbers running through her blood; both her parents are also quantity surveyors.

After studying a year of urban planning at Auckland University, Corize says that she realised that it was not the topic for her. “I sat down with my parents and they said, ‘why not study quantity surveying’? I realised that I have been surrounded by it all my life, and I have seen first-hand how my parents have influenced and contributed to so many projects through the discipline. So I switched to studying the subject at Massey, and I loved it: it was a great decision. Then I decided I wanted to get a job as a cadet in the industry.”

Discovering White Associates as her father was in contact with the company, Corize is now studying and working at the same time. And, although she wasn’t sure she wanted to consult initially, she now really enjoys it, she says. “In particular I enjoy the way the company is structured and how job processes are handled; I have found it all to be very open and welcoming. Since starting, I have not been scared once to ask people a question, and even if I feel nervous people are so helpful, transparent and open here, which I appreciate.”

Working currently with the team on the Auckland City Mission Homeground redevelopment project and driven by a love of structure and ‘how you can influence it’, she says that seeing the frame being bolted into place on the tallest timber-framed building in Auckland is an impressive process. “When I started here I just saw plans for the project, so to see it rise from them is remarkable. It is going to be a beautiful building.”

Now she’s getting her feet under the table, Corize says that she is most enjoying influencing how to make a process more efficient, and saving money while helping people. “It’s all very important to me. It’s about helping the client and contractor, helping them all to have the same end goal: after all, we all want the building to succeed.”

Director Justin Maritz says: 

At White Associates we have seen great success with our Cadetship programme as it gives the next generation of Quantity Surveyors the opportunity to get practical experience while completing their Tertiary Education.  It is very rewarding being involved in facilitating the growth of our employees while we work together in planning their career path.  Our team has really responded well to us facilitating internal growth from within the company, giving everyone the opportunity for growth within the organisation.

 

 

Broader Outcomes driving a new approach to our legacy

At White Associates we’re setting out on a major new journey in our approach to how we do business. Inspired by the Broader Outcomes put in place by the Government as it seeks to drive better outcomes for more people in New Zealand, we have been digging into the core principles of our business – what we do, how we do it, why we do it, and what we want to leave behind us.


“When we started to think about it, many of the principals that underpin the Broader Outcomes also feature centrally in our approach as a business,” says Michelle Pou. “We were using outdated language around it, but the fundamental concepts of kaitiaki or custodianship are critically important to us. We see them not only in the work we do to help clients develop and build projects that will stand the test of time, but also in the approach we take to how we work; sharing knowledge, building our whanau and improving our wellbeing as individuals and as a team.

“When we really started to drill into the four outcomes that the Broader Outcomes seek to make reality, we realised that there are four areas in which we make a genuine difference as a team and in our work with our clients:

  1. Socially – providing skills and training, not only to our people but more widely through the cadetships and partnerships we already offer, increasing our reach out into the communities that surround us and increasing wellbeing and safety
  2. Environmentally – already a motivator for our people as they increasingly seek out environmental initiatives for company involvement, we are also working to help our clients consider and cost sustainable materials and designs into their projects
  3. Culturally – as a multi-cultural business we have so many opportunities to share and develop knowledge that improves us all as a whole. Having already begun a cultural Māori world view awareness programme within our team, we look forward to stepping forwards on this journey
  4. Economically – not only do we contribute centrally to New Zealand Inc.’s success through supporting reliable projects budgets and dependable project outcomes, but we have the opportunity to influence procurement processes to manage cost and increase participation in the industry.

What’s next? Having identified the core categories and workstreams that underpin our approach to the legacy we want to leave, we are now working to identify initiatives to add to our existing work. Expect news and stories as we progress along this important pathway.

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.”