Aspect Property Group commenced operations in 1989, initially carrying out infill housing projects in Brisbane as AML Industries. Being a registered builder, Founder and Company Director Allan Larkin led the company to construct a number of small, 6 to 10-unit apartment buildings in the mid-1990’s. The group soon moved on to the construction & development of larger scale, 40-70 unit complexes.
Currently, Aspect is preparing to commence construction of a 160-apartment project, minutes away from Toowong Village, an area in which the firm has been a predominant builder for many years.
From site procurement to detail design, construction, marketing, and finance, Aspect manages the entire development process. “We work extremely closely with one of Queensland’s best architects, Elllivo” says Allan. “Ellivo design cutting edge buildings that we deliver through our internal construction team. The end result is a product far superior to a lot of the other work that’s out there.”
Unlike most builders and developers, Aspect directly employs the majority of their construction team. “We have our own site managers and tradesmen,” Larkin continues, “and we’ve got an apprenticeship program that’s second to none. This ensures Aspect has a pipeline of highly skilled workers across a variety of trades. We macro and micromanage the whole process.”
Aspect’s sustainable business practices are what have allowed them to deliver their current range of high-quality projects. The use of a skilled, in-house workforce, as well as the firm’s management of all facets of the process, delivers a unique vertical integration. “We say that everybody’s pulling the same rope in the same direction,” Larkin says. “It’s a simple philosophy. Our focus on quality of product is a facet that we take very seriously.”
One of Aspect’s most notable initiatives that they have undertaken is the use of their own manufacturing facility, also located in Brisbane, to manufacture all of their bathrooms and laundry units as prefabricated pod modules. “We bring these 100% completed modules onto the site at the construction stage, which eliminates the need for numerous onsite trades, tools and equipment,” says Allan. “It also allows for savings in logistics and waste. We’ve invested significant funds into this system, and it’s now paying great dividends in quality, speed, and quality controls.” “We currently have over 450 of these pods coming into production, a massive investment in it’s own right.”
Aspect on Benson is the latest in a couple of ex-service stations that the group has redeveloped. “It went from a fully operational service station,” Larkin says, “we took over the site, decommissioned it, demolished the buildings and underground infrastructure, & decontaminated, all in a period of two months.” Despite a number of challenges, including the digging of a 10-metre deep excavation next to a major underground sewer line, and the site being situated on a major traffic route to the University of Queensland, the project was completed on time and within budget.
Aspect’s UNILODGE development, undertaken 3 years ago on the University of Queensland’s St Lucia campus, was built to provide traditional residential services while addressing the needs of the visiting student population. 12,000 cubic metres of phorphory rock, an extremely hard, concrete-like substrate, had to be removed from the site using rock hammers and heavy machinery. Good management practices, and working closely with the neighbouring student population studying on campus defused initial strained relations. “We now have a great working relationship with the university,” says Allan, “and we supplement their quality accommodation for Queensland’s prominent tertiary establishment with the additional 144 beds on campus.”
Over the coming years, Aspect is currently mandated to deliver approximately 500 apartments through a variety of developments. These projects are currently nearing completion, under construction, or in council, awaiting approvals.
Long-term relationships are an integral part of any business, and Aspect has been fortunate to have dealt with many of their subcontractors and suppliers continuously for over 20 years. “I’m of the strong belief that subcontractors and suppliers shouldn’t be relied upon for the financing of others’ business activities,” Allan says, “which is an industry standard that’s abused on an increasing basis. We certainly don’t look to our suppliers to finance our building & development activities.”
Larkin also points out that organisations such as the UDIA, MBA, and HIA are pivotal in helping small businesses grow, and keep up with the myriad of legislation and regulation changes that the industry is burdened with.
At this stage in Australia’s property cycle, Allan feels that the industry’s reputation is being damaged by an influx of inexperienced, poor quality operators. “We see it all the time,” he says. “I’ve been in the industry for 25 years, and these newcomers deliver substandard product in poor locations. They rely heavily on expensive marketing schemes to sell their product, predominantly interstate. This results in an oversupply of poor quality product, being detrimental to the overall health of the industry.
Another growing challenge facing the industry, particularly for businesses performing infill development, is the rise of a ‘Not in My Back Yard’ mentality. “It challenges the implementation of sound planning schemes. Great cities of the world are judged by their built environment, and their integration of housing to transport and services,” Allan says. “There’s no sound argument for restricting higher densities around railway stations, shopping precincts and business nodes. If you put people where they work, where they play, and where they study, it reduces traffic flows & infrastructure costs incredibly. Planning must be made for the next 50 years, not for the next 5 minutes on the whims of ill-informed residents.
The registered builder behind Aspect, Allan Larkin’s background is as a tradesperson. “I finally realised that construction and development was actually a people business,” he says, “it’s not about bricks and mortar. It was when I figured that out that things really started to flow.
The incredible team that we’ve built & trained here at Aspect over the past few years is growing stronger every year, and we’re looking forward to delivering a number of exciting projects in the near future. “