BUILT WITH PRIDE
More than timber and nails or bricks and cement, the most important ingredient in building a new home is an unrelenting focus on quality.
Last year, a Dutch couple made news as the first people in the world to inhabit a 3D printed home. Resembling a large boulder and lacking what many would consider ‘street appeal’, the home was made using cutting-edge robotic technology that some see as the future of housing construction – once the inevitable kinks are ironed out of course. Until then, the art and science of building new homes will remain a distinctly human endeavour.
As the General Manager, Delivery & Operations at Frasers Property Australia, Nicholle Sparkes heads the company’s construction division, overseeing design and delivery of hundreds of homes annually. She says the 3D printing of buildings is a fascinating development, but until they can match the high quality and aesthetic standards we’ve come to expect today, homes built by people will remain the norm.
“Construction is one of the oldest professions in the world,” says Nicholle. “From the moment humans fashioned tools we started building things and creating shelter. Today the construction sector is one of our biggest employers and sustains a whole range of experts and trades who build the buildings where we live, work, shop, and go to school. There’s just so much human ingenuity and know-how that would be hard to replace with robots.”
Perhaps the hardest part of construction for technology to replicate is the emotional element. The pride that those in the industry take in their work, and the particular care and attention to detail that are hallmarks of the Frasers Property approach.
“The ability to stand in your customer’s shoes and understand their journey is a huge part of delivering quality outcomes,” explains Nicholle. “Every part of the construction process needs to be done and overseen by people who understand that they are responsible for helping bring someone else’s dream to life. At Frasers Property we say Live proud because we recognises that people have worked hard to create a home and life they’re proud of. And we mirror that by ensuring that everything we build is done with that same sense of pride.”
Modern construction methods mean bringing many different people with specific skills together to achieve a common goal. Everyone from architects, designers and quantity surveyors to carpenters, bricklayers, glaziers, plumbers, electricians, painters, carpet layers, tilers, and roofers. Oversight and coordination require rigorous and finely calibrated processes as well as a ‘measure twice, cut once’ mentality that’s shared by everyone in the Frasers Property’s construction team.
“There are multiple checks built into each of our construction phases,” says Nicholle. “It probably drives some of our subbies and partners crazy but being meticulous saves you a lot of headaches down the road.”
Nicholle says that one of the things that set the company apart is that there are multiple teams, and therefore multiple sets of eyes, that take a construction project forward.
“A point of difference for us is that we have distinct teams for different parts of the build and that means many checks and balances. Those teams are always talking to each other and always looking at methods to create better outcomes. If an issue comes up in construction, the construction manager makes sure the design team know. The maintenance team talk to the construction team, so they know where common defect areas occur. There’s this constant feedback loop that generates opportunities to improve.”
Given the large number of trades that work on a new home or apartment build, and despite the best intentions of supervisors, things don’t always go to plan. A hinge might sag here, or a blemish of paint gets left there. Known as ‘defects’, they’re something Frasers Property focus relentlessly on avoiding, acknowledging that perfection is an almost impossible goal to deliver in every single instance.
“I think defects are a bit of a dirty word in the building industry,” says Nicholle. “It’s like if you acknowledge they are a possibility, customers will run away scared. But in my experience people prefer honesty. We strive for zero defects in every job, but if they do occur, the most important thing is what we do next. Our Care Team spring into action and get it fixed. There’s just no question that we will get it fixed, and that’s what gives customers confidence that they’re being heard and prioritised.
“Again, I think this is something that Frasers Property does exceptionally well. We don’t just act to fix problems; we listen and learn too. That comes from understanding that this is one the biggest purchases of people’s lives and it can be very anxiety-inducing for customers.
“It’s possibly a result of poor service they’ve experienced elsewhere but we find a lot of people will call us up to log a defect and they’re already gearing up to be disappointed by our response. But our ethos is, ‘well, there’s a problem, we have to fix it’. And so, we listen, and we say sorry, and we make a time to set it right. Often you can hear that they’re genuinely surprised because they probably expected that conversation to go a different way.”
In it for the long haul
Reputations rise and fall on a consistent ability to deliver exceptional quality. As a company closing in on almost a century of experience in Australia, Frasers Property understand this better than most.
Their legacy can be seen in dynamic city precincts and thriving suburban communities all over the country from iconic Freshwater Place and Burwood Brickworks in Melbourne, Ed.Square and Central Park Sydney, Brisbane’s Hamilton Reach and Brookhaven, and Port Coogee in WA. Again and again, the company is entrusted to deliver some of the nation’s most important new neighbourhoods, like Bradmill in Yarraville in Victoria and Midtown in Macquarie Park in NSW.
The unrelenting focus on quality has also meant that the company has assembled and retained a team of professionals who couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. It’s not unusual to find members of the construction team into their second, third, or fourth decade with the company.
Lachlan Wallace is a case in point. Starting with Frasers Property as an apprentice 12 years ago, today’s he’s a Construction Manager for the company’s built-form projects, and teaching a new generation of tradies the ropes.
“A Frasers project is special because that focus on quality and delivery is uncompromising,” says Lachlan. “At the end of a build there’s nothing like handing over the home to a customer and experiencing the joy of that moment through their eyes,” says Lachlan. “It makes the long days and early mornings absolutely worth it, and I feel really lucky that I get to experience that with my team every time we hand someone the keys to their new home.”
That sense of pride and commitment goes a long way to explaining why more than 90% of Frasers Property customers say they’d buy with the company again.
Says Nicholle, “We always say that a customer is a customer for life. We want them to love the experience and tell their friends. Or perhaps even to see their kids grow up and buy from us. So, every customer interaction is not just about what’s happening in this moment, it’s about how we want to be perceived into the future. Ultimately, that’s our greatest legacy of quality and care.”