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Love what you do

Story: Bianca Ross

Love what you do

Story: Bianca Ross
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A family-operated business focused on quality building work and service is on a trajectory for continued success, with HIA providing resources, information and advice when needed most.

There are some people in life who were born to do what they do. Builder Ben Tass, co-founder and co-owner of Sydney-based Tass Construction Group is one of them. Dedicated to his craft, he is one half of a talented duo steering the dynamic home building firm toward solid growth and success.

Specialising in custom builds and high-end renovations, Tass Construction Group is all about offering a collaborative and holistic design and build service where quality is found just as much in the process as the outcome.

Housing sat down with Ben to talk through his journey on becoming his own boss, partnering with his brother Aaron and how they are fast turning Tass into a respected name within the residential building industry.

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a builder?

I’m lucky because I always knew I wanted to build, right from a young age. At school, I took a construction subject and started off making little knick knacks that soon progressed to bigger items like a picnic table and a custom work bench. When I began my four-year carpentry apprenticeship, I was fortunate to learn from a premium builder, working in a small company on high-end residential projects. My skillset grew rapidly and I was exposed to many aspects of the business, often being part of a collective effort to solve project issues as they cropped up. Under their leadership, ‘quality building’ was hammered into my approach.

For two years, I’d come home from site and do my builder’s licence course at night. It was a hectic time on top of my apprenticeship but I was committing to a path. I could see that if I worked hard, I would realise my dream to become a builder. I certainly didn’t have much of a social life back then! But it was all worth it. It’s a good feeling going to work every day to do what I love.

Directors Ben (left) and Aaron Tass of Tass Construction Group
‘My skillset grew rapidly and I was exposed to many aspects of the business’ 

Q: How did you start your family business?

I’d always wanted to have my own company and as I was putting the steps in motion, my brother Aaron was exiting his engineering career to try something new. It was never the plan to go into business with my brother but sometimes things turn out better than expected! The Tass stars aligned and we officially started the business in 2016. Our mum was our first accounts person before our team expanded, and our dad, who was an engineer too, is still involved at times because he loves to stay busy.

Our first job together was Aaron’s house and we treated it is as a stepping stone to run projects for others. We figured if we put ourselves to the test on a personal build, we could truly tell our clients we understood what it was like to go through a building project. It boosted our confidence and gave us valuable experience and knowhow. We carried our learnings through to our next job, and the one after. And that’s where we are today – building homes we believe in for our clients to love to live in. 

Q: What were some of your early business challenges?

At the start we all did a bit of everything before we more clearly defined our roles and responsibilities. It was a lot of late nights setting up accounts and working on our business goals and branding after a long day onsite. At times it was a bit of a shambles as to who did what – while we were concurrently working on Aaron’s house. We soon realised that we needed to outsource elements that weren’t in our wheelhouse, such as marketing.

We had heard about Sea Salt Marketing, which specialises in the building and construction industry. The team helped us align our business objectives with our communication strategy, and they execute our marketing now. Our leads have been great and they’ve helped us build a business pipeline so we can get on with building beautiful homes. 

Q: What do you love best about building?

I love seeing the end result of what we created for our clients to move into and enjoy. We are lucky because we can showcase our work with a finished product. Our company ethos is: customise homes, change lifestyles, create memories. We have this written everywhere because it’s what we aspire to do, and our positive client testimonials over the past six years tell us just how well we are achieving our goals.

Overall, my favourite stage is the handover, seeing our clients’ faces as they take in their new home for the first time. Watching their reactions throughout the whole building process encourages me to do what I do. Our clients have complete trust in our ability to build their homes to the highest standard and we feel like that’s an absolute privilege.

‘I love seeing the end result of what we created for our clients to move into’
Tass offers a collaborative and holistic design and build service

Q: Is sustainability in building important to you?

We are accredited HIA GreenSmart Professionals and that means we are committed to improving the environmental performance of the Australian building industry. We do this in a number of ways. We put great emphasis on designing homes that minimise energy consumption over their lifetime. We then spend time to educate our clients on what is available with materials or selections, and the corresponding effects on the environment. This process carries across to our site teams where we are always looking at how we can best minimise waste and increase our recycling of materials. In our work and professional relationships, we hope to facilitate a change in the industry’s approach to sustainable housing so that best practice environmental management is integrated into mainstream building.

Q: What’s been the most valuable aspect of your HIA membership?

There are many aspects that are valuable to us. The top ones are: being able to call on an industry expert in a certain field for specific advice (we found this especially helpful through COVID with site shutdowns, and advice from the government changing daily); having easy access to information and documents, such as contracts; and access to HIA courses so our company can continue to learn and grow with a forever-changing industry. 

Q: When overseeing your builds, how do you ensure everyone’s safety onsite?

Safety is our number one priority. It trumps any target or deadline. We hold company-wide monthly meetings where we speak about all sorts of safety issues that may impact us. We also consistently undertake internal safety audits, and hold weekly toolbox talks to identify potential hazards. We also undertake courses and seminars for our staff, including training days to ensure everyone is safe at work. 

Q: What are some challenges and opportunities for yourself and the team in the year ahead?

The industry is experiencing the effects of trade shortages, material price increases, supply chain issues, and the impact of rising interest rates. And we’re dealing with these elements while having to prepare for the NCC 2022 changes. It’s a lot! However, this is business and we welcome these challenges. We grow and adapt, and as long as we’re sitting down periodically and addressing these issues, and the associated effects on our business as they arise, that’s all we can do. As the industry changes, we have to change with it.

First published on Sept 2023

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