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There are many parts to running a successful building business. It can be exhilarating and it can be exhausting, from the physical nature of the work, managing relationships and client expectations to coordinating your trades and custom selecting your resources – not to mention trying to be prepared for the needs of tomorrow’s market. While this balancing act has been a constant in the construction industry, one thing has also proven to be true: partnerships can help to carry some part of the burden.
Kirsty Maxted, business manager for Rawlinsons (W.A.), knows just how important partnerships are. Where she works is steeped in experience and history as Australia’s oldest quantity surveying firm. But today the business offers so much more.
‘It’s really incredible to work for a company that has been on the forefront of partnering with home builders since the early 1950s,’ Kirsty says, sitting in the restored drawing room of the iconic Hill 60 property in Belmont.
Built in 1911, the iconic property – once described as 'flashy and substantial' – was tired and dilapidated when it was purchased and then lovingly restored by Rawlinsons more than a decade ago.
Now rebuilt to its former Federation Queen Anne glory, Hill 60 is testament to a business built on the beliefs of detailed consideration and care throughout its 67-year heritage.
Taking a step back to Rawlinsons’ inception in 1953, post-war Australia was experiencing an economic, population and infrastructure boom. Demands on builders was on the rise, partly due to the economy and partly due to the influence of the form over function house designs coming from America and Europe.
‘We initially started as a quantity surveying firm with the aim to become a trusted partner to builders,’ Kirsty says. ‘[We wanted to be] a real source of support they could reply on.’
That belief, combined with an entrepreneurial spirit, led to a whole new way to help builders only a few decades later. An inspired idea for a cost guide to help navigate the potential pitfalls in quoting was born.
Rawlinsons took a leap of faith in 1983, and created its first construction cost handbook. The first of its kind, the annual guides soon became industry bibles and the cornerstone of estimating.
Quantity surveyor, editor and director of publishing, Matthew Roddis, is responsible for the extensive amount of research, calculation and compilation of the publications, which now consist of the Australian Construction Handbook for large projects, the Construction Cost Guide for smaller projects or residential builds, and the Process Engineering Handbook.
Matthew explains how the guides can best be used: ‘During the early stages of concept a benchmark rate is determined in terms of function, size of development and quality of finish,’ he says.
‘Then as a project progresses and the level of finishes are confirmed, the comparative rates section of the guide is used to accurately create an amended budget, so the client can be provided with options in terms of the variety of finishes.
‘Finally when progressing into the contract documentation stage, the detailed pricing section is used at project tender to accurately price each individual unit of work, enabling a pre-tender estimates for individual trades.
‘We like to think that our guides can really become a cost control tool from the inception of a project to completion and handover.’
When it comes to compiling the data, it is fair to say the research process for Rawlinsons is both thorough and complex.
‘We start with in-depth discussions with suppliers, subcontractors and construction industry professionals about states of their market. Following these discussions, the rates are generally built from the following elements: material cost, labour norms and labour rates,’ Matthew says.
‘The calculated rate is reviewed against factors such as tender returns, so trend predictions can be ascertained.
He adds that it is important to note that the guides are not just limited to quantity surveyors and estimators, but also architects, engineers, designers and builders.
‘Not to mention government bodies, insurance companies, valuers and educational establishments.’
Aside from quantity surveying and cost guides, the company also has grown in scope to provide a vast array of information and services to the industry, such as contractual advice, estimated construction time frames, tax depreciation, plus replacement insurance valuations and environmentally sustainable costs.
Having launched the digital versions of its handbooks in 2018, Kirsty Maxted again reflects on Rawlinsons growth and future aims. ‘We feel like we have been, for many years, and will continue to be there for anyone in the building industry,’ she says.
And as in the case of Hill 60’s transformation from dilapidation to glory, Rawlinsons’ aim to be there to help every builder to create beautiful spaces from the ground up should continue on for at least another 67 years.
For more information on how Rawlinsons can help, reach out to the Rawlinsons publications team at www.rawlhouse.com.au
Disclaimer: this is sponsored content for Rawlinsons.