I entered the building industry at a time when Western Australia was booming. With the utmost respect, I never thought I’d find myself pleading with bricklayers to turn up on a Monday morning and pay them the equivalent of the GDP of a small country for the pleasure. It was an interesting time.
Since then I’ve managed to weave my own way in an industry rife with stereotypes and stories of woe; many of which I fear are well-founded.
I’m lucky in many ways that my work reflects a subject I have more than a fleeting interest in and I have the opportunity to be involved with many different projects. While it’s true that everyone’s taste differs, one common thread is the feeling a space can generate. We tend to get drawn to spaces that feel warm and inviting, interesting and characterful. Those that tell a story and keep you hanging for the next chapter – they tie the past to the present; that’s the beauty of what we do.
I ‘grew up’ in the world of advertising and marketing in the UK, following a healthy stint teaching windsurfing in my teenage years (much to my parent’s horror) before making a sea-change to Australia in 1999. With some previous business experience in the food industry under the belt and a dab of Branson’s inspiration it was apparent that things could be done differently in the building industry. So, with the right people around me, we started our first building company in 2007.
Negative industry stereotypes were, sadly, well founded. I wanted to change the way building projects ran by forming a more collaborative approach with clients and architects from the outset. Trade relationships and quality of workmanship were to be the accepted norm, rather than a novelty. Open communication and old-fashioned ethics were to form the backbone of our philosophy.
While strictly speaking we do a lot more than just renovating, the philosophy and ethos of our business grew from Barefoot Renovations and our love of challenging the norms and treading our own path in an industry that by all accounts hasn’t evolved much over the past 30 years.*
Currently, I have Barefoot Renovations, Bauen Projects WA and Little Castles Granny Flats, which continue to provide a checkerboard of mixed opportunities, challenges and joy. Add to that, The Barefoot Renovator and recently launched training courses – and I’m getting close to achieving a truly holistic approach to the industry (and nearing capacity!)
Stay small, keep overheads low and never lose sight of our customer centric approach; it’s a mantra; it seems to work well.
When work dissolves into social and ‘play time’, I spend it with my incredibly understanding wife and incredibly hungry Aussie Shepherd (Carola and Jessie – in that order). Most of it involves being in, on or under the ocean.
I’m always keen to hear opinions…good, bad or indifferent, and where possible help with advice, so please feel free to throw me a line any time or drop into the office in Claremont, Western Australia for a chat.
I also take on a small number of consulting jobs throughout the year so don’t hesitate to ask me about this option.
*Please note, this is just my opinion and not a statistically accurate measure of time to quote me. It should also be noted that there are many highly-evolved building companies and renovators out there… just not that many… and it frustrates me (I’m being polite) that the negative industry stereotypes are as prevalent today as they were 20 years ago. OK, that’s me and my high-horse over with. Thank goodness I don’t have a Twitter account.