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When medical practitioner Darshan Singh wanted his executive home built on the rural approaches to Palmerston North he requested that the building team was certified.
Darshan, who works privately and publicly as a dermatologist, was taking no chances with his million dollar home and sought the opinion of his brother, Harjinder Singh, a co-director of the Riddet Centre at Massey University.
Harjinder had recently had his own home built and, before he engaged the creative team, he researched a number of builders and their qualifications. His choice was Fowler Homes. And he had a very good reason.
The Managing Director of Fowler Homes in Palmerston North, Shane Walker, was one of the first builders in the Manawatu to study the government’s Building Act Review. He soon discovered the first of the review’s major changes is the Restricted Building Work which comes into effect on March 1 this year.
This means that any residential building project which involves structural change or weather tightness must use a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP).
Darshan’s new home was indeed a residential building project and, for Shane to build it, he needed to be licensed.
So Shane, with 20 years experience under his tool bag and the required trade qualifications, applied to the Department of Building and Housing early in 2010 and was certified.
But he didn’t do it because it was another hurdle to overcome if he was to remain in business. He considered it was “a great idea.”
He saw the licensing programme as one that offered a consistent standard and quality of work. “Our industry has faced problems of shoddy workmanship. The Restricted Building Work scheme will address that and eliminate the builder who has produced sub-standard work in the past,” Shane says.
“Being a LBP means I’m accountable for the quality and standard of my work. Personally when I build something then the owner’s got me for life. If there’s a fault then it’s my job to come and fix it.”
His assurance didn’t end there. Shane Walker guaranteed that his sub-contractors would also be certified before he engaged them.
Now that assurance and peace of mind appealed to Darshan and he engaged Fowler Homes, part of a nationwide group of companies, to build his two-storey home.
“Being a professional myself I expected the same quality of work from the people building my house,” he said. Darshan, his wife, Ravneet, his architect and Shane then sat down and discussed the project. The meeting was one of many over a nine month period. It was important for all parties to attend the various milestones along the journey to completion.
Work began in March 2011, Darshan, Ravneet and their three children moved in just before Christmas and the final landscaping was completed last month.
And is he happy? “Absolutely,” he says. “It was essential for us to have a builder who was licensed and we’re delighted with the standard of work.”
That was music to Shane Walker’s ears. Job satisfaction is very important. He enjoys the creative business of building houses but the appreciation and endorsement from the owners when the job’s completed means everything.
“What I’m now doing is marketing my team as all certified. These credentials give me that point of difference when people are being careful with their money during the recession,” Shane says.
His initiative is endorsed by the founder and CEO of Fowler Homes, Tony Hill. As an established group of industry professionals throughout New Zealand, Fowler Homes are future proofing their businesses by becoming LBPs Tony says.
As of February 8 a total of 14,274 people had applied for 18,777 licenses which already exceeds the March 1 target for the Department of Building and Housing of 17,000 licenses. Last month the Department launched its campaign, entitled Build It Right, to emphasise the need for licensing by March 1 and highlight impending changes in the industry.