Stress-free home building is now possible thanks to Adelaide Build Assist, and for the past three years, locals have reaped the results.
While the business itself has been in operation for almost a decade, ABA has been at the top of its building game only recently. Managing Director Luke Foster credits some of this success to the effect of the Global Financial Crisis on Australia’s economy, when the company was given a chance to re-evaluate its prima facie.
“All of a sudden, when the GFC hit, we noticed a decline in the amount of development stock on the market,” says Foster. “So, we had to diversify and look for new ways of keeping cash flow and turnover up at a level where we needed it. So, we ramped up the whole brokerage side of our development business, which is essentially helping mums and dads, investors and smaller property developers with their building projects – and that might be a three-bedroom home or a four-bedroom home for just a family, or a group of up to 20 or 30 units for a small-time developer.”
Another inspiring factor was the negative impression of some companies in the construction industry; ABA made it part of their goal to disprove this undesirable association, enforcing “consumer confidence” by alleviating the presence of any “pitfalls and unknowns” that can occur when designing a home.
“We sort of put ourselves out there in a big way three years ago to offer this service where we pretty much hold the hand of the home builder from start to finish,” says Foster. “We do everything from site analysis for speculators and small-time developers to drafting and designs. So, all full architectural service. We also handle the engineering, the council approval process, then go into construction drawing and then we do a construction tender. We then do a full tender review of that with the client, we deliver the building, and then we have a post hand-over service.”
In total, Adelaide Build Assist provides clients with extensive services that translate into a very thorough 11-step process. “We do everything from turning the dirt to giving the keys over at the end of the day.”
“[Customer confidence] is of number one importance, because without it, we don’t have a business. So, if we can turn around and have our consumer or our client totally satisfied and completely confident with what we’re presenting and their project, then we’ve done our job.”
Adelaide Build Assist relies mainly on local reception, which has worked in its favour over the last three years; rave word-of-mouth reviews have saved plenty of money that would have been spent on advertising. Apparently, this means of awareness has been successful, as ABA saw close to 100 building projects either in planning or under construction within a recent 18-month period. The company’s home-grown popularity has also allowed them to expand their staff from one employee to six, which Foster sees as an impressive increase for a small-town company.
“Relationships, probably like every business, are the most important thing for us from an internal point of view because what we offer with our service is – anyone can help someone build a home or deliver a development project; [it’s] one thing being able to assist someone, but another thing being able to do it in a cost effective manner.”
The relationship between Adelaide Build Assist and their suppliers has been beneficial for not only the company, but their clients as well. ABA receives a volume discount for the bulk materials they purchase, allowing them to be more cost effective than their competitors and pass the savings from material costs onto the client.
“Obviously, when our dollar’s strong, the raw materials that we import are obviously more competitive, or cheaper for our industry,” says Foster.
Despite currently booming business, the rise and fall of profits during certain periods is inevitable. “It comes and goes pretty regularly, but we’re not like Melbourne and Sydney. Our turnover tends to sort of fluctuate very conservatively. But, there are always options for employment and growth within the construction game, because things are changing all the time, there are holes that need to be filled, and there are jobs for so many different variables in that industry. If you’re a young adult looking to get into the workforce, and there are that many options in construction, then I think it’s a huge opportunity for it.”
Foster himself was a young adult when he first became interested in property development. In his late teens and fresh out of university, he found himself immersed in the industry, with little to no initial support. However, after some hard work and determination, he was able to achieve his vision.
“Back then, probably 20 years ago, there was no degree, or course, or book, or whatever, that you could read or study to do it. You pretty much had to either know someone or have an inside running on development sites, or something like that. So, I suppose my history was learning the hard way a little bit by jumping in on my own and doing a couple of projects.
I started from doing two or three on a block to 10, 15, 20 years later doing 15 or 20 on a block. So, you learn through experience and through mistakes, and doing things well and doing things not so well, to then know in 15 years’ time what’s the better way to do it. Along the way, when you develop a relationship, they’re sort of relationships for life; they do – they can – last for the life of your business, which is really important for productivity and trust and moving forward in a successful way.”
When advising clients, Foster takes care to stress the importance of working with each client in order to make them feel comfortable with their project, and disproving any negative perceptions, as this can make all the difference.
“When you are fully informed, and you have the right team behind you – the right advice behind you – it can really be the most rewarding experience; one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. So, I think the most important thing is for people to get the right advice at the right time and everything will follow.”