jacks point

It’s all grow… in Queenstown!

In our most recent newsletter, we told you about a superb company called Hector Egger that picked up and transported a Swiss factory to Cromwell in order to lead a new wave of prefabricated construction in the South Island.

This article follows the Hector Egger trail by exploring not only how the products from that factory are being used – in the development of Willow Pond and Clubhouse Lane precincts at Jack’s Point – but also how our own team is travelling in Queenstown as we work on these projects – and more.

In December 2019, we announced we were establishing an office in Queenstown, to be led by our rising star Elliot Smith. Fast forward 18 months, and it’s all go for the White Associates team, with many cutting-edge projects getting our pulses racing in the adventure capital of the world…

Active and busy across the region, Elliot now leads a growing team, having employed a new quantity surveyor, Olivia de Rooy. Elliot and Olivia are working on a rich variety of development projects including subdivisions, high-end homes, retail and commercial developments, as well as hotel and civil works. These include the leading-edge Willow Pond and Clubhouse Lane developments in Jack’s Point, where the latest prefabricated construction techniques and materials are being employed. They are also starting a number of projects at early inception stages, including apartment projects in town.

Elliot Smith at Jack’s Point

“The market is really positive with projects starting to take shape following Covid last year, and investors and developers are commencing work and building momentum,” says Elliot. “Having a team on the ground is proving exceptionally valuable, as we have learned so much about the challenges and opportunities of the region.


Resources are still incredibly limited, including a lack of a robust and resilient supply chain. Therefore, local knowledge of the intricacies of working within this environment is essential. In particular, one of the main challenges in the South Island is the complexities of winter work, particularly how it can affect project timings like laying asphalt and concrete. You have to get it right, and it’s something that our team are across.”

When considering how resource issues are affecting projects in the region, clients need to make sure the project team is considered early enough, including the procurement plan for the project due to supply chain delays. Darin Bayer, Director at White Associates, says that detailed planning and resourcing are becoming essential.

jacks point
Jack’s Point

“It’s incredibly tight for some of the bigger projects that are coming down the line in Queenstown. Resourcing alternatives from the likes of Christchurch may offer a solution to the issue, but Christchurch is also experiencing a growth in demand, particularly within the residential sector and infill development.”

However, he says funders are focused on getting involved in the right projects in the region.

“From a project finance perspective, if a deal stacks up then they will be extremely supportive. We’re working hard on the ground, growing the team in Queenstown and embracing what intricacies that the Queenstown market offers.”

Willow Pond

Willow Pond and Clubhouse Lane

White Associates has been appointed as funding representative on a number of projects within the exciting new residential, and commercial district Jack’s Point on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, just 15 minutes from Queenstown.

As detailed in our previous article Swiss Precision in Cromwell, White Associates assisted in concluding the construction contracts with Hector Egger. Hector Egger is now working with Falconer Corporate Limited to develop two projects within Jack’s Point Village: Willow Pond and Clubhouse Lane.

Falconer Corporate Limited, a New Zealand company specialising in property development in Auckland and Queenstown, has already completed a number of houses in Jack’s Point. They are currently engaged in delivering 80 x 3-bedroom houses at Willow Pond, including 17 lakefront properties, and working on Clubhouse Lane, which is 880m2 of commercial space and 24 apartments.

Elliot says that Darby Partners, the owners of Jack’s Point, sell land parcels to developers such as Falconer.

“Dean Falconer, founder of Falconer Corporate, has created something really impressive at Willow Pond. Essentially he has taken it from being an overgrown pond to a really appealing space. He is making the pond into a real asset: a unique and identifiable feature.”

Willow Pond

Willow Pond is a perfect example of a design that is workable, can offer scalability and generates time efficiencies through the Hector Egger model. Willow Pond is a shining example of how the component-ised building concept can be used well.

Working alongside Falconer Corporate, Elliot sees how they are changing how building is being undertaken in Queenstown, and the positive effect that it is having.

“Falconer uses Hector Egger’s product, and it’s so great to see this on the market. It offers affordable and attractive housing for first time home buyers and delivers an exceptional finish. It really showcases how prefab homes can be used within a local development and be adapted to Jacks Point covenants.”

From a funding and Quantity Surveyor point of view, Darin also comments that component-isation helps in establishing a programme.

Clubhouse Lane

“Once it is in the delivery schedule there is not going to be delay in components, and once the components arrive on site the structure can be installed quickly.


This process provides more confidence in the actual pricing elements with fewer variables. As it’s built in the factory, timeframes and components remain the same, and production can be done on scale with less opportunity for costings to be incorrect through the contractor.”


He adds that funders should give this approach more air time. “This model is worth examining closely, as it can get a project to the point of sale quicker, in turn reducing time risk, which ultimately benefits the funder. Most funders want to know what the timeframe is and anything that can be done to reduce that is a benefit to all.”

The fact that the end product delivers stunning aesthetics and design is an added bonus.

Clubhouse Lane

Elliot adds:

“Our funding advice approach also covered Falconer Corporate’s other project within Jack’s Point. Clubhouse Lane is the first mixed use development to be released in Jack’s Point Village, comprising 28 residential units and 12 commercial spaces. It’s a pretty spectacular example of how modern, well designed retail, commercial and residential spaces can add a significant dimension to an already-beautiful location.”

Elliot finishes by saying how excited the team are by the momentum they’re seeing within the South Island.

“The team is here to provide advice which can help add value and impact with our local knowledge. We’re servicing projects throughout the lower South Island, working on projects from Christchurch to Queenstown. Our team move around the South Island working with clients, so for example if you have a project in Dunedin or Invercargill, and you need funding advice, then we’re keen and available to help.”

Pink Shirt Day

Pink Shirt Day

Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora – Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying!

Celebrated annually around the globe, Pink Shirt Day began in Canada in 2007 when two students took a stand against homophobic bullying, after a new student was harassed and threatened for wearing pink. The next day hundreds of students turned up to school in pink, some from head to toe, to stand together against bullying.

Pink Shirt Day is now a global movement, and is celebrated by schools, workplaces and communities around Aotearoa each year.

In support of the movement, on 21st May, White Associates proudly wore pink and ran a fun raffle which raised $250 for the Mental Health Foundation. These funds will help to continue to raise awareness about bullying prevention and provide resources that promote inclusive workplaces, schools and communities nationwide.


Pink Shirt Day 2


Hector & Egger

Swiss precision in Cromwell

When you think about Switzerland, what comes to the forefront of your mind? Is it expensive watches, exclusive banking, cuckoo clocks or chocolate maybe?

Although this is a story about none of those things, it is about something for which the Swiss are also globally renowned: precision. Specifically, the precision involved in assembling a very Swiss factory at the bottom of the world, replicated to the centimetre to accommodate precision machinery that was transported by ship from Langenthal, Switzerland, to Cromwell, Central Otago! And not just any factory – but one that now produces precisely prefabricated timber panels and elements for the residential and commercial construction sectors.

It’s also about two people who couldn’t shake a dream to provide a more efficient, sustainable, cost effective and higher quality option to the building industry.

So who are these people, and what is their company called?

Hector Egger New Zealand is the company; a new Cromwell-based joint venture business formed between Swiss company Hector Egger Holzbau AG and two Queenstown-based partners, Tristan Franklin and Stephan Mäusli.

Hector Egger NZ specialises in manufacturing high-tech timber structures and prefabricated timber panels for residential and commercial building construction. It uses a suite of proven offsite manufacturing solutions pioneered by Hector Egger Holzbau AG, which has 20 years’ experience in offsite manufacturing of timber buildings and structures, with three ISO 9001 certified factories operating in Switzerland.

Hector Egger NZ has recently completed construction of a new 3,500m² Cromwell factory and office building, and manufacturing got underway at the beginning of this year. The company’s intention is to improve the diversity of construction options available in the New Zealand market, provide cost certainty with higher quality outcomes, be more sustainably focused and produce timber panels and elements faster than traditional building methods.


Hector & Egger
Left to Right: Michael Schär, Tristan Franklin, Stephan Mäusli & Paul Schär.

How did this all come about?

Tristan Franklin, Director of Hector Egger NZ, explains: “Stephan has a long-standing relationship with Hector Egger Holzbau AG originating from an office building he designed in Switzerland 17 years ago. He maintained a relationship with the company owners after the project, thinking for a long time that offsite manufacturing could work well here in New Zealand given the similarities we share across building codes and timber construction.

“After the Christchurch earthquakes, Stephan approached Hector Egger Holzbau AG about exploring the obvious opportunities together, but it was still slightly too early for prefabricated buildings and the market was just not receptive at the time.

“Going forward to early 2017, Stephan and I met when we became neighbours in Queenstown where he had moved to run a well-known construction company in the region. We got talking about construction and some of the many issues being faced by the industry, and he suggested making contact again with Hector Egger Holzbau AG to explore this opportunity again. Stephan set up a conference call the following week to introduce me as well as the opportunities we saw in New Zealand, and this Monday night conference call is a discipline we have maintained every week since then.”

At the same point in time, Hector Egger Holzbau AG were finalising the upgrade of their largest factory in Switzerland to a fully robotic operation, meaning the existing machinery was going to need to come out. Rather than sell this to other companies in Europe and therefore giving away the IP in their customised machines, they could see an opportunity to extend the useful life of the machinery in New Zealand.

The NZ partners were invited to Switzerland for the 170th anniversary of the original timber construction company. They spent a couple of weeks at the HQ developing the relationship and also understanding the workings of an advanced timber Offsite Manufacturing (OSM) business. Not long after this visit, Paul and Michael Schär visited New Zealand where they spent several weeks further assessing the opportunities in New Zealand with Stephan and Tristan.

“They particularly liked the size and scale of developments in New Zealand and also the repetition of design typologies that they saw here,” says Tristan. “In Switzerland everything is very bespoke, but here the opportunity existed to work with developers, councils and government on projects with scale and repetition.”

Hector & Egger

How did they progress from there?

“We originally looked at leasing an existing factory and bringing the machines down, but we soon realised that we would be better to fully commit and copy the exact form and IP of the Swiss business,” says Tristan. “This even involved replicating the footprint of the Swiss factory to the centimetre to follow the lean manufacturing processes they had developed over 20 years in operation.”

Making the decision to buy land and build their own factory, the NZ-based partners looked around the North Island and Christchurch for the right site, before eventually deciding there was plenty of opportunity for a business of this size in Cromwell – an ideal location geographically situated near Queenstown and Wanaka, with excellent road access to Dunedin, Christchurch and Invercargill.

They purchased some land on Old Saleyard Road, and set about designing a replica of the Swiss factory, explains Tristan.

“Although the main factory is built primarily of steel, Kingspan and precast concrete we were able to manufacture our offices – a two-storey, 450m2, un-treated timber building in Switzerland where it was then shipped down in six OT 40-foot containers and assembled onsite in 8 days. It was important to demonstrate our own methodology in the new Cromwell building and this would definitely extend to the main factory structure on any future expansion!”

Hector & Egger

How did they build the new factory office building?

Tristan explains:

“As with all of our projects, the process starts with a 3D model to help visualise all of the connection details, calculate material quantities and resolve any issues or clashes in the structure. We can then break each project down to the very last staple and screw which in turn allows us to provide fixed price quotations to our clients. Once the 3D model and shop drawings are completed we then pass those files through to the factory for processing. This starts with the cutting of all of the timber components, moves through to the assembly of the panels and elements and finishes with the transport and assembly of our timber structure on site.”

White Associates were involved through this process, with director Darin Bayer assisting in setting up bank funding and providing advice on offsite materials and the procurement process, before facilitating the drawdown process. Getting involved early 2019, when the partners were procuring subtrades, Darin says that visiting the site made a strong impression.

“When I went to the bare site I was immediately impressed at the precision involved,” says Darin. “The components for the office were being shipped from Switzerland, and everything happened exactly as anticipated. Even with Covid in the mix, they overcame their timeframe and delivery challenges by applying additional resource here in New Zealand. The process worked so well.”

For his part, Tristan says that White Associates were “fantastic, really good to work with. They made a real effort to understand the differences in our methodology compared to what they normally deal with. Trying to get something like this established in New Zealand is incredibly difficult, and without financially strong business partners, plus a foot up with machinery, it would have been almost impossible to execute.

“When we initially went to the banks, we struggled to get the big four to understand what we were proposing, which was really frustrating. It was hard to get them to invest the time required to understand our business model, and although all thought it was a great idea and much needed in the market, they were not able to assist us with lending. It wasn’t until we met the new Queenstown Commercial Manager for Kiwibank, who really committed to understanding our business plan and financial model, that we eventually banked the entire project with him. Kiwibank also saw the calibre of White Associates as PQS, and if they signed off on a claim then they were comfortable. White Associates have been an important part of that financing puzzle.”

Hector & Egger

The build was not without its challenges. Starting on site in January 2020, the on-site team were just about to start vertical works on the factory building when lockdown paused everything for six weeks. As soon as they could they got back on site and completed the build in November, with Code of Compliance issued in January 2021: a 12-month project from start to finish.

“We achieved exactly what we said we would,” says Tristan. “Our timelines and budget were accurate, and we started to manufacture on 11 January as originally planned. Covid-19 certainly threw in a few extra challenges around commissioning of machinery, as we couldn’t get the specialist technicians in from Europe, but with a combination of service agents in New Zealand and online technical support from Europe, this was successfully achieved.”

Outcome: how do they feel about the facility now it is up and running?

“It’s fantastic,” says Tristan. “We have a great-looking clear-span industrial building and a high-quality timber office building, really functional and performing exactly as we intended.”

He says that the facility replicates the same IP and processes as their Swiss partners and is focused on the same lean manufacturing principles developed in Switzerland.

“Our panelised system is either engineered to meet NZ code or designed to be fully compliant with NZS 3604 building standards. It is faster to completion, less expensive and higher quality when manufactured offsite. This solution can be used equally well across stand-alone houses, medium density developments, multi-storey apartments, schools and commercial buildings. A 150m2 family home will take approximately 6-8 weeks in design and engineering per typology, 5 days factory manufacture and 3-5 days on site installation to weathertight envelope. We also provide fixed pricing for the manufacture and installation of our timber panels and elements.


The rest of the world is starting to embrace the use of mass timber to reduce the amount of steel and concrete in construction, and given our Government’s targets around reducing carbon emissions, timber construction is definitely on trend. By taking construction into a controlled factory environment with no adverse weather effects, minimising waste, enhancing quality, improving health and safety outcomes and reducing time on site, offsite-manufacturing has an important role to play in the future of the construction industry.”

He adds that Hector Egger NZ is already working on its first project, prefabricating wall, roof and mid-floor panels for six duplex houses for Jacks Point in Queenstown, with several other projects contracted and many more in the pipeline.

“We are very positive for the future and committed to showing that New Zealand can build better quality, cost effective and sustainably focused buildings than is currently the case.”

Hector & Egger
North Villas, Jacks Point

How can NZ developers and builders use this process and facility?

“Talk to us early,” says Tristan. “If you’re going to prefabricate then you need to make this decision early in the process. This allows us to work alongside the project team to design and value-engineer the building for offsite manufacture and prefabrication.


We are very happy to show people through our new facility with the aim of encouraging the adoption of prefabrication, and to make more and more people aware of the benefits. And just like the Hector Egger company motto – ‘Think. Plan. Build’ – we will approach every project with the same methodology, and always in that order.”


Lessons from the 2020 Maelstrom

What a year: what stress, what challenge, what change; what resilience, what teamwork, what an effort.

And what learnings! As we come to the end of this year of all years, a year in which we have all been put to the test like never before, we have paused for thought to examine what we have learned through it all:

NZ Inc. is in a way better position than many thought earlier this year

The blizzard of stories in March and April of lockdowns, headwinds, unemployment, casualties and economic retrenchment – and even another great Depression – did not make for pretty reading. It is to the Government’s credit therefore that the economy has in many sectors been insulated by measures it put in place. Although the hospitality, retail, tourism and travel sectors have been hit hard, today’s headline unemployment number of 5.3% is nowhere near the prediction of 10% we saw in May.

Available GDP information shows that the much-desired V-shaped recovery has taken place so far, and is likely to be followed by a slow rise up into 2022, when it is predicted to accelerate again. Lockdowns have been far less costly than feared – for many – and relatively strong positivity in the workforce about job security is driving investment confidence.

We do have a deep-rooted structural issue with housing supply, and commercial and retail property are constrained. Consents are rising for dwellings, although their slow approval pace is still hurting growth, and development sections are being snapped up. Heightened demand in the industrial sector is also driving land prices up as retailers race to meet online shopping demands.

Low interest rates are fantastic for the economy and confidence, but take care

With the $10 billion we usually spend nationally on overseas travel filtering around the Kiwi economy right now, many Kiwis are proving to be quite resilient. And, with interest rates so low, people are using their banks’ money to drive yield from assets. Continuing liquidity in the market is driven partly by quantitative easing, and the Government is evidently keen to keep pumping it in, so there is plenty of money to be lent. The banks are flush with cash, if you can put the business case together to access it.

In this environment, due diligence has to be key: do development projects stack up, and what does the margin look like? In a fast-moving world, it can be tempting to rush projects. We caution that project design must be where it needs to be, and we would advise against rushing pricing. The little you save in interest rates at the moment you’ll burn through in poor planning costs downstream.

Beware the ripple effect

Although the construction sector hasn’t gone through a tourism-style extended halt, busy (when permitted) consistently this year, it’s worth saying that the larger size projects we’re busy on now are ones we have been working on for a year or two. It’s only when the pre-existing projects finish that we will see if and how new projects are going to come through. The rubber won’t hit the road on this for quite a while. When Commercial Bay, NZICC, The Pacifica and other big developments are completely finished, what will the picture look like?

There have been many projects coming on stream in this last quarter however there will be large gaps to fill the void for the developments noted above.

What’s stimulus comes next?

Another big question is how the Government can/will keep the economy going with the debt they are carrying. They won’t be able to spend for ever – so how do they stimulate things? Investors are still pretty hungry for yield, and are driven to property assets based on historically low interest rates. FOMO is a factor at present, without doubt. However, at some point the momentum may slow down in the event of aggressive Government policy in areas such as LVRs and possible debt to income ratios being introduced.

Expect a flight to commercial property

If a longer-term recovery is on the cards, we can expect to see continued house price inflation for a while yet. However, we anticipate a flight to commercial property as people miss out on the dwindling number of residential sections and investment opportunities, so they are already turning to purchasing old commercial buildings with opportunity to add value and obtain a reasonable yield. In our world, this means that feasibilities will be tested strongly. The question will be this: with land prices so high, will developments stack up?

Be responsive

The way in which our team responded to such a disruptive year has been a real highlight for us. It was almost seamless, despite being given 24 hours’ notice to vacate our offices in March. The second time was almost natural… The way everyone adapted and got on with what was happening meant we didn’t really skip a beat. With everyone working remotely, checking in on each other, pulled us all in closer together.

Three-legged stools work well

Our biggest learning, and new company mantra as we move into 2021, is to be a three-legged stool. This means we need to :

1.  Be efficient

In 2019 our team worked a total of 22,000 man hours. In 2020 this jumped to 30,000, and we’re doing more work in more areas than ever before. So, while we’re working on our core client base and have a steady influx of new enquiries coming through, it is a tight and competitive place out there in the market. Keeping our product at a high quality as we work at speed is a key focus for us. We had thought so much about flexibility, and then it got forced on us. So one message is: Just do it. 2020 gave us the platform to introduce real flexibility and digital efficiency, and we continue to develop our BIM strategy and diversify our portfolio of skills and successes.

2.  Be prepared

To be fast on our feet, nimble and quick to react, we needed to be ready. This means having the tools, resources and people in place and prepared to act when needed. In 2019, public sector, residential and retail sectors dominated our work. In 2020, although subdivisions slid down our scale, industrial and residential projects moved up into greater prominence. It also means we need to think further ahead. 2020 has been good for this: when we started the business, we didn’t really know what was coming beyond three months, but now because of the situation this year we are thinking so much further ahead.

3.  Be connected

Now more than ever we need to keep up communication, making it front and centre: internally and externally. We have seen that the importance of diversity through our portfolio is hugely critical. Although it is the same for any business, when you get a sudden event it drives home how important it is to maintain connections even if you’re not currently working with them.

Diversity is our way forward

Diversity of work, diversity of team. A great thing about White Associates is that our team has become diverse through our natural culture, rather than through a process of positive discrimination. Although this is an area we’re always working on, it is good to realise that our stats show that the diversity of our team is on the rise, women now making up 38%, and eight cultures are represented in our team today. To take this further in 2021, we will be working to find out more about each other’s cultures, and to celebrate them more intentionally, so we can celebrate our individuality.

Thank you all

In a tough year, we have come through it well as a team to deliver services at an exceptional level. It’s been tiring for us all, but extremely rewarding to see such personal and project progress. The thing we value most, time and again, is the magic that happens when project teams come together truly collaboratively to deliver. It has made 2020 special in many ways, and for that we thank you, as well as for the opportunities you give us.

And to keep the conversation going, we’d love to know if these lessons that we have learned are in any way similar to yours!

One last thing:

Bring on our 2020 15-year anniversary party – in 2021!

Mt Eden Correctional Facility Winner at 2020 NZiOB Awards

The annual New Zealand Institute of Building (NZiOB) Awards celebrate exceptional examples of collaborative partnerships between consultants and contractors within the industry.

We’re delighted to announce that the team who worked on the Mt Eden Correctional Facility Building C project came home with the Hays Interdisciplinary Collaboration Award at this years award ceremony.

A massive congratulations to our very own Brett Zeiler, Neville McAnnalley (Leighs Construction), Neville Clarke (WSP), James Bones (Beca), Patrick Dowle (Department of Corrections) and to the many others involved in the project. We’d like to give a special shout out to Weng Tan who also played a significant role on this project.

The judges commented that

“the team was committed to collaboration, creating a site office to be shared by the client representative, consultants, and contractor, for the duration of the project. This collaboration ensured a well-executed project.”

Riverside Market

Riverside Market generates awards buzz as visitors flock

Just over a year ago, a temporary symbol of Christchurch’s powerful resilience, creativity and determination became a permanent city attraction when the Riverside Market opened to customers.

Since then, the hugely popular covered market has gone from strength to strength, attracting 30 independent food outlets, 40 fresh produce stalls and 10,000 visitors every day into its welcoming, humming 3,500 sqm space at 96 Oxford Terrace.

Now nominated for the Yardi Retail Property Award at the Property Council NZ Property Industry Awards 2020, Riverside Market has also attracted praise from visitors and media alike for its ability to provide a stellar new offering in the city centre. As Stuff.co.nz wrote in a review recently,

“Riverside Market has completely electrified the inner city with its bustling community hub, complete with a 7-day-trading farmers’ market, owner-operated eateries, and boutique retailers.”

This success is extremely satisfying for us at White Associates, as we love being involved with projects that become integral to their city. As White Associates Director Darin Bayer says,

“Riverside Market has become a focal point in Christchurch, a real community hub at the western end of Christchurch’s retail precinct, for visitors and locals alike. It was a very successful project and is now doing extremely well. This is the sort of project we get excited to work on – we really enjoyed it.


Built overlooking the east bank of the Avon River, it is intertwined with several laneways, with the main Little Oxford Lane leading to the CCC carpark and Ballantynes department store. At a time of supporting local, Riverside Market supports local growers and small businesses by purchasing fresh, organic produce, meat, seafood, freshly baked goods, coffee and more. A strong point of a local market is a reduced carbon footprint, minimising food packaging and waste and travel both for producers and purchasers of locally grown food.”

Riverside Market

A high-end retail redevelopment on the site of the previous Re:Start Mall, bordered by Cashel and Lichfield streets and Oxford Terrace, Riverside Market includes a farmers’ market, restaurants, food stalls and retail shops.

The development by Richard Peebles, Kris Inglis and Mike Percasky contains not only the farmers’ market but also 15 high-end fashion and retail tenancies, 4 mezzanine floor hospitality opportunities and an open rooftop bar. Outdoor seating spills onto Oxford Terrace, which has been paved and pedestrianised to create a lively and engaging destination for locals and visitors.

Investor Richard Peebles says he had wanted to create a farmers’ market in the city for a long time, but finding the right location had been difficult until the Re:Start site and surrounding land became available through Crown company Ōtākaro.

“The markets also offer the ability for small businesses and entrepreneurs to essentially incubate their businesses – barriers to entry are low,” explains Richard.

White Associates provided bank funding Quantity Surveyor representation for this development. White Associates Director Darin Bayer says that this transformational development is testament to what can be achieved

“with incredible vision, thorough planning and a strong commitment to providing the Christchurch community with an outstanding new precinct.”

Richard Peebles has been involved in numerous other central city projects, such as the McKenzie and Willis development on High Street and a three storey build on the Hereford end of The Terrace that houses a restaurant & bars on the ground and first floor with office space at the top.

“It’s great to be part of the building momentum. The city has really taken shape post-quake and the Riverside Market has contributed towards making everything a lot more lively and active”.

Let’s hope that Riverside Market can add gold at the awards to the plaudits it is already attracting from the public!


Give A Little Month

Give A Little Month

2020 has been a crazy year (so far!)

Covid-19 has affected all parts of our society and sadly had a huge impact on the ability of charities, NGOs and not-for-profit organisations to generate income.

Funding is an essential for these organisations to continue to do the good work that they do but now unable to rely on traditional fundraising methods (e.g. face-to-face work, donations, and volunteering) it is difficult for them to raise the much-needed funds to keep them going.

At White Associates we wanted to do our small part and set out to raise $1,500 in the month of September in what we called “Give A Little Month”.

To add some spice and extra community spirit, we held 5 different events over 5 weeks in the office.

These “Give A Little” events included:

  • Commit Your Commute – we encouraged staff to donate the money they saved on their commute over lockdown
  • Bacon & Egg Brekkie Rolls – on World Suicide Prevention Day – Friday, 10th September – we started our day with a bacon and egg roll and some open conversations about mental health and wellbeing
  • Packed Lunches – we encouraged the staff to make their own lunch and donate what they would have paid for a takeaway to charity instead
  • High Tea Party – the management team competed in a bake off which was judged at a high tea party in the office
  • Raffle – we auctioned off some great prizes inhouse.

Through these various events we managed raise over our $1,500 target and have decided to divvy the funds across four different charities chosen by the entire team:

  1.  Auckland City Mission
  2. MATES in Construction
  3. Mental Health Awareness Foundation NZ
  4. Life Community

More about the charities:

Auckland City Mission

The Mission, a longstanding client of White Associates, provides integrated social services to anyone seeking assistance such as the isolated elderly, rough sleepers, people living in cars and inappropriate housing. Others are battling addictions, living with mental health issues, or struggling to feed their families over a period of unexpected crisis.

MATES in construction logo

MATES in Construction has 3 key focus areas to work towards their vision of significantly improving mental wellness and reducing suicide in the construction industry:

  1. To advance mental health and social services in New Zealand by promoting the prevention and control of mental illness for people engaged in the construction industry.
  2. Providing leadership for our people to gain better access to mental health services.
  3. Building a stronger more resilient workforce.

The Mental Health Foundation NZ provide free information and training, and advocate for policies and services that support people with experience of mental illness, and also their families/whānau and friends.

Life Community

Life Community provides practical help to the community through many initiatives including

  • Soup Kitchens
  • Christmas boxes
  • Community Support Networks

and much much more…

Plant and Food Research

Precision in Action: Plant & Food Research

At White Associates we do love it when projects receive awards recognition. One that keeps on giving in this respect is a redevelopment project for Plant & Food Research that has been nominated for the Naylor Love Heritage and Adaptive Reuses Property Award at the upcoming Property Council NZ Awards.

Seemingly involving just about every part of our business, this $40 million series of complex and multi-faceted projects demonstrates the intensive cost management work we do to meet the precision required for work in professional scientific research laboratories, involving Konrad Trankels, Graham White, Justin Maritz, Paul Crockett and Weng Tan across a range of disciplines and buildings across a swathe of time lasting from 2013 to 2019.

Project durations:

First budget estimate – Q1 2013
Server room upgrade – Sept 2014 to Dec 2014
Cunningham Building – Nov 2014 to Aug 2015
Hamilton Building (incl. ground floor fit out) – May 2015 to Jan 2019
Padfield Sensory – Aug 2016 to Aug 2017

The client and its needs

To appreciate the breadth of activity over the last seven years, it is worth starting at the beginning: with the client and its needs.

Plant & Food Research is a New Zealand Crown Research Institute, a science organisation that provides research and development that adds value to fruit, vegetable, crop and food products. The organisation occupies a beautiful campus in Mt Albert in Auckland, providing a workplace for more than 350 people. However, the campus was feeling its age, and to enable the institute to be able to do its work properly in the 21st Century the buildings needed to be brought up to a new standard.

From a property perspective, the campus comprised the seven-storey Hamilton Building, originally built in 1967, plus its neighbour, the Deco-inspired Cunningham Building. Under the project, these and other buildings have undergone a significant redevelopment and upgrade (alongside the creation of the purpose-built Padfield office and research facility) to create state-of-the art science facilities and laboratories along with modern, future-focused workspaces, all to ensure that Plant & Food Research can continue to deliver high quality science for New Zealand’s plant and marine-based food industries. This has involved seismic upgrades, replacing the roof and facade, as well as the interior accommodation of four floors of laboratories and three floors of office space.

Plant and Food Research
Photo Credit: Bossley Architects

More specifically, works included asbestos removal, interior fit-out demolition, mechanical, electrical and plumbing work, upgrading and reinstating internal fitout, new plant, facade enhancements, a new security system, and a main services upgrade. And, significantly, the high-precision buildings had to remain occupied and operational throughout the project.

This considerable set of requirements required White Associates to provide a full range of quantity surveying services, including initial estimates, contract preparation, tenders and post-contract cost management. Moreover, working as the cost manager on a science-specific building meant that White Associates had to understand all of the complexities of the different functions of the buildings, and in great detail – from infrastructure, structure, fitout and services – so we could properly incorporate all the science-specific spaces such as laboratories.

White Associates director Graham White describes the project, as well as the initial learning process, as “incredibly complex”, saying that the mix of 20th Century structures and exacting 21st Century scientific requirements presented just the start of a rare challenge.

“Imagine gutting an old multi-storey building, with all the limitations of working within an existing structure,”  he says.

“Completely stripping the building back, taking it back to its concrete shell, reveals all sorts of things on its own, before you even think about a new roof and cladding. Then add the complexities of doing all of this alongside working laboratories, with scientists doing intricate research that requires highly tuned equipment.


Further, because work took place on site over a four-year period, we needed to deal with the evolving nature of the project, as well as materials and labour costs. And, if that wasn’t enough to manage, decisions were also made during the process to add the fitout of a further floor”

Plant and Food Research
Photo Credit: Plant & Food Research

Weng Tan, who managed much of White Associates’ post-contract work on the project, said that the only way to live with the omni-present complexity was to be methodical and to plan for – and deal with – the challenges while progressing towards the overall desired outcome.

We started with a small project of upgrading the server room, then started works on the Cunningham building.” he says.

“Halfway through it, we moved onto the Hamilton building, before Cunningham was finished. We worked carefully, moving from floor to floor, advising the client when each floor would be ready.”

This all sounds reasonably straightforward, but as with all best-laid plans the key is to be able to adapt as they change and evolve. So, what caused challenges?

Fixed budget in place, knowing surprises would emerge

Because of the age of the buildings, it was inevitable that surprises would start to come through during demolition, says Weng, who adds that White Associates director Konrad Trankels had factored this into his approach in the earliest estimating phases.

“A challenge for Konrad was not knowing exactly what would be found once demolition got underway. Floor levels might be out of alignment, or services might not be where there were designed to be, for example. Because we knew we had a fixed budget to work with during construction, we had to create and build up a floor-by-floor budget bandwidth for the project, particularly as it would be built over 3-4 years. Cashflow and accuracy of payments were the key to ensuring delivery within budget. We therefore needed to work closely with the contractor to identify variations, putting costs against them and advising client of them at the earliest point.


This meant the project had to be staged floor by floor. The method we came up with was this: if we found errors on a floor, we could likely assume it would be happening on all seven floors. This level of forecasting helped us to put budget aside for each floor. The client would then populate the floor, and construction would move to the next one. By being on top of the budget forecast floor by floor, we could evaluate the challenges as we found them.”

Marrying design requirements with the investment case budget

In an environment of on-site discovery, clarity of design was very important. White Associates’ solution was to work closely with the client and the design team to gain a clear understanding of all non-negotiables from a design perspective, says Weng.

“We worked with everyone involved to arrive at a solution that was fit for purpose and able to be delivered on budget within a forecasted contingency spend.


“When completing initial feasibility costs, we assumed potential requirements of the building that were validated with the design team in order to arrive at a robust project budget. We believe our ability to communicate effectively with the wider design team assisted in realistic budget expectations. Once realistic budgets were set, the client had the ability to move forward and procure required scope of services. We needed to work closely with the design team in delivering the project on budget within a forecasted contingency spend.”

Plant and Food Research
Photo Credit: Bossley Architects

This led to a decision to negotiate an extension to the contract, which added the fitout of a further floor.

“The client’s requirement was for the additional work to be done at the same unit rates as the main contract works,” says Weng.

“The main challenge this created was in the services trades, which required analysis of unit rates, labour rates and productivity outputs for each subcontractor’s price for the main contract works and the additional work.


Our analysis resulted in reductions to the proposed cost of the additional works, and at the end of our analysis the client was satisfied that the proposed cost of the additional works was at the same unit rates as the main contract works.”

Bringing subcontractors on board for the journey

To achieve a better understanding of these costs, bringing subcontractors further into the team was a big contributor to the project’s success, says Weng.

“A trend over the last ten years has been bringing contractors into the design earlier, and the next trend is to bring subcontractors in if you’re confident in the value you’re getting from them.


Early on it was agreed that we would need to bring on subcontractors, and for the services in particular. We went through a process to get them to be part of the team, and then as the design was updated we would work with them on the price for their trade. By doing this early we could plan earlier and they could advise the design team, particularly on staging. When you’re doing air conditioning for example, it doesn’t go in floor by floor, so when you break it down building by building, floor by floor, it needs re-sorting.”

Placing modern workplace design and scientific environments into old fabric

One of the key objectives of the overall project was to encourage greater collaboration between staff groups within Plant & Food Research by introducing a range of alternate ways of working to traditional workspaces. Architectural ingenuity, such as introducing double-height spaces to link the floors vertically, came to the fore, in turn requiring cost expertise to provide services in modern workplace design and scientific environments.

Plant and Food Research
Photo Credit: Plant & Food Research

Design-wise, a JV between renowned Bossley Architects and Lab-works Architecture, which specialises in labs merged two forms of specialty to create a beautiful and functional building.

“It went really smoothly,” says Graham.

“There was good demarcation between specialties, as Bossley had full rein on interior break out spaces and exterior cladding, for example, and Lab-works made the most of the sterile laboratory spaces on each floor. Together they created a brilliant work environment.”

Graham says that client was also ‘brilliant’, taking a hands-on, highly involved, big picture approach.

“It was extremely difficult for them trying to build a facility; scientists being led through a long change management process. Having worked in the buildings in one way for 30-40 years, the project created complete change in both how they work and the laboratories themselves. They met it by running a big process for their people, which of course needed coordination.”

This underscored the importance of understanding the client’s requirements and their non-negotiables at the project outset, to be able to set realistic budgets for them to make their key decisions around, says Weng.

“Labs are incredibly complex buildings. The builders have also had to adjust their attitude to what they are doing, because there are so many challenges. Plant & Food Research science is a very high-precision activity across so many aspects, including air quality, air pressure, condensation, with very high tolerances. The exactness of their instrumentation is astounding.


This meant two things for the project. Firstly, extremely high quality design and construction, and, second, no form of vibration in the building was allowed while Plant & Food Research were doing their work. We needed to give the client great heads-up for any noisy works so they could avoid it.”

Complete building upgrades taking place in an operational environment also require key components to be fully understood and costed in initial budgets to allow the client the right level of cost advice in order to make key decisions at the project inception stage, Weng adds.

“The client must be able to stage the project in a particular manner to allow for key budget cash flow requirements. The level of quality and specification for this highly serviced facility has been at the forefront of everyone’s decision, and it was managed effectively to ensure that it was not compromised.”

Outcome: all complete within budget

Plant and Food Research
Photo Credit: Bossley Architects

On 22 November 2018, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, Dr Megan Woods, opened Plant & Food Research’s new facility.

This redevelopment has been a huge project, but the result – the new high-quality, purpose-built facilities of the Hamilton, Cunningham and Padfield buildings – will allow us to deliver more and better science for our partners and New Zealand,” said David Hughes, CEO of Plant & Food Research, at the opening.

“Through a combination of fundamental and applied science, much of which has connections to our Mt Albert Research Centre, we will deliver a smart, green future for our industries, for New Zealand and the world.”

Graham White agrees, adding:

“Six years ago White Associates started putting numbers together for this complex project, and delivery occurred within budget, even over this substantial period of time. It was immensely satisfying to see it completed to such exacting requirements, on budget, and we are all so pleased that it has been nominated for a Property Council award. Our fingers are crossed that it will do incredibly well.”


To view a timelapse of the project posted by Plant & Food Research: 


Hastings Police Station

Arresting Development: HASTINGS POLICE STATION

When working on a project for the New Zealand Police it is important to ensure that every detail is completely locked down – particularly when it comes to cost.

White Associates took on a challenging and hugely rewarding project to manage the costs and budget for the comprehensive redevelopment of Hastings Police Station. Originally picking up the project alongside similar work for Napier Police Station, White Associates provided a range of pre- and post-contract services throughout this $20 million construction project that involved demolishing an existing station and constructing a new three-storey building to exacting seismic requirements on poor ground conditions.

Justin Maritz, White Associates’ pre-contract lead on the project, says that the project objective sounded straightforward at the outset: to manage the costs in the development of a modern, fit-for-purpose facility that maximised the station’s gross floor area in order to increase operational efficiency.

However, he says, ultimately White Associates’ job was more complex, requiring close collaboration with designers and end users to value-engineer design at the masterplan phase in order to deliver this IL3 building within a specified GFA, and meet operational requirements, all within budget.

“You could say that for us the project shared many of the requirements of police work: early detective work, intensive examination of detail, security of personnel in an operational site, coping with rapidly evolving information, and dogged determination, to ensure a successful result. It required us to keep our finger on the pulse of budgets at all times, especially as the project scope and design teams evolved.”

Dealing with challenges all the way through

The cost challenges arrived thick and fast when White Associates came on board. First among them was a background team change that saw GHD take on the design, says Maritz.

“We examined the user requirements and carried out a cost plan, as we could see that the original scheme was way over budget. The scheme had to be redone, and the new architects redesigned the scheme to the budget. This meant we had to know all about the building, while respecting the level of security and privacy the Police needed. We also needed to keep close tabs on client requirements, suggesting alternatives that saved project costs over the long term.


“We gave on-demand costings, responding well to mitigate any flow-on costs and programme implications. This involved working very closely with the client’s Project Director and Project Manager, flagging any costs to enable decisions to be made quickly and mitigate costs.”

Hastings Police Station

High seismic stability on poor ground conditions

Construction in Hastings got underway in February 2019, and the challenges kept coming, says Justin Bearne, who led White Associates’ post-contract work:

“Ground conditions are always one of the biggest challenges for any construction project,” says Bearne. “The complicated landforms under the site required extensive specialist deepsoil mixing, pumping a substantial amount of cubic metres of material into the ground.


“Controlling costs in this environment required a close collaborative effort with the subcontractors and the main contractor. We did considerable analysis of the conditions; many options were considered, and we helped the client to understand the best value for money options, constantly looking at the best way to maximise budget. Options analysis was vital on this project, requiring many reviews of the methodology before we had a contractor on board.


“By factoring in the complicated ground conditions and its associated costs and allowance, we were able to provide the client with a robust budget estimate to then make an informed decision. That decision involved undergoing a redesign in order to bring the project within budget. By identifying the costs and risks early on, we were able to save our client time and money and ultimately put steps in place to provide a better project outcome.”

Hastings Police Station

Controlling cost on operational site

With a court building and custodial unit next door to the police station, ground conditions were far from the end of the site challenges in Hastings. With people coming and going into court daily, plus the need to maintain holding cells and management units for them, the site was live and operational throughout the demolition and construction work.

Furthermore, as the project evolved additional scope was introduced mid-project. This included additional works to the police station, additional upgrades to cells, plus upgrade to ISO Annex buildings and services. Says Bearne:

“These additions in scope pulled us back into establishing budgets for sign-off approval and negotiating contract sums with the incumbent contractors. It required us to obtain additional funding, re-align budgets with business cases, negotiate value for money with the main contractor and minimize the impact of the project programme delivery.”

Bearne adds that it not only involved the use of temporary offices and holding cells to ensure the station could remain operational, but a considerable amount of stakeholder engagement too.

“The station works in close collaboration with the neighbouring Ministry of Justice facility. Given the nature of the station, the design team had to factor in the needs of the various internal and external stakeholders. We not only relied on our extensive experience working with the likes of the Department of Corrections, we also engaged in in-dept stakeholder dialogue in order to understand all of the nuances of this particular site. In doing so, we were able to ensure all of the respective groups’ requirements were captured in the master planning stage, and provided a realistic budget that was grounded in commercial realities.


“We worked closely with New Zealand Police and the design team on the delivery steps and sequencing for the project while keeping the site operational and maintaining high levels of security – and all while working closely with the neighbouring Ministry of Justice facility. We sought to segregate the work into set phases while looking for efficiencies in the programme in order to reduce cost where possible. Applying our experience and benchmarking against similar projects we were able to provide crucial information that enabled our client to make an informed decision which was in their best financial interest.


“By taking time with our stakeholder management, we managed to maintain a smooth process and kept control of design and cost, always one step ahead of changes on site.”

Hastings Police Station

Maximising GFA while controlling cost

One of the most modern aspects of the project is one that most passers-by won’t see: within the building, NZ Police is pursuing new ways of working. In taking a modern, ‘agile’ approach to the internal layout of the working floors – providing more open space for people to use, thus requiring fewer fixed desks, and thus traditional calculations around space required per person – the Police are challenging the way they work, says Bearne.

“The agile approach is setting a new benchmark for the Police,” he says. “It is something of a hybrid project for them. Historically, they wouldn’t build such a small Gross Floor Area (GFA), and there were many discussions around the amount of space needed, hot desking and so on.


“Ultimately, through collaborating with the design team and end users, and applying our value engineering expertise, we were able to help ensure that the design met stakeholder needs while optimising the available space, all while looking for cost efficiencies, in order to deliver what turned out to be 3,300m² GFA within budget.”

Hastings Police Station

Teamwork was the key

Ultimately, after the station was officially opened on 6 December 2019, it has proved to be an award-winner. Taking out the NZIA 2020 Hawkes Bay/Gisborne Architecture Awards, the judges commented that

“this complex project demonstrates how careful planning, good access to natural light, consideration of acoustics, and built-in flexibility can enhance a workplace and improve social outcomes. Internal planning was carefully considered and benefited from consultation between client and architect, and this process has been the catalyst for a desired cultural shift within the client organisation. Both figuratively and literally, the building illuminates the work done by Hastings police.”

Also nominated for the Warren and Mahoney Civic and Arts Property Award, the project demonstrates how success is driven by teamwork and collaboration, says Bearne.

“Teamwork is always a massive factor in project success. On this project, which had cost challenges pretty much from start to finish, success came predominantly through working extremely closely with the client, designers and MCL Construction to ensure the new building met stakeholder needs while optimising the available space and budget. It is immensely satisfying to see it now in use, doing its job, and recognised as a great outcome.”

This is echoed by Joseph McGowan, Project Director for NZ Police, who says:

“This project truly involved everyone from front line staff, District Commander, Consultants and Contractors as well as Hastings Council to find ways of overcoming the difficulties that presented over the course of this project. Without all of this input the project, which was put on indefinite hold at one point, would not have completed. I am genuinely grateful to everyone who made this project a success. Thank you. With this new Hub station we can go on to make a really positive contribution to the communities in Hawkes Bay and Eastern District as a whole.”