{{ propApi.closeIcon }}
Our industry
Our industry $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Housing industry insights Economics Insights Data & forecasts Tailored research and analysis Advocacy & policy Advocacy Policy priorities Position statements Submissions News and inspiration Industry news Member alerts Media releases HOUSING Online
Business support
Business support $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Become an apprentice host Hire an apprentice Why host a HIA apprentice? Apprentice partner program Builder & manufacturer program Industry insurance Construction legal expenses insurance Construction works insurance Home warranty insurance Tradies & tool insurance Member perks Toyota vehicles The Good Guys Commercial Fuel savings See all Planning & safety solutions Building & planning services Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) Solutions for your business Contracts Online Advertise jobs Trusted support & guidance Contracts & compliance support Industrial relations
Resources & advice
Resources & advice $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Building it right Building codes Australian standards Getting it right on site See all Building materials & products Concrete, bricks & walls Getting products approved Use the right products for the job See all Managing your business Dealing with contracts Handling disputes Managing your employees See all Managing your safety Safety rules Working with silica See all Building your business Growing your business Maintaining your business See all Other subjects Getting approval to build Sustainable homes See all
Careers & learning
Careers & learning $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
A rewarding career Become an apprentice Apprenticeships on offer Frequently asked questions Study with us Find a course to suit you Qualification courses Learning on demand A job in the industry Get your builder's licence Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Find jobs
HIA community
HIA community $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Join HIA Sign me up How do I become a member? What's in it for me? Mates rates Get involved Become an award judge Join a committee Partner with us Our initiatives HIA Building Women GreenSmart Kitchen, bathroom and design hub Get to know us Our members Our people Our partners Support for you Charitable Foundation Mental health program
Awards & events
Awards & events $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Awards program People & Business Awards GreenSmart Australian Housing Awards Awards winners Regional Award winners Australian Housing Award winners 2024 Australian Home of the Year Enter online Industry events Events in the next month Economic outlook National Conference Events calendar
HIA shop
HIA shop $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Most popular products National Construction Code Vol 1 & 2 Waterproofing wet areas AS 3740:2021 HIA Guide to Waterproofing HIA Guide to NCC Livable Housing Provisions Top categories Building codes & standards Contracts & documents Guides & manuals Safety products Signage For your business Contracts Online Digital Australian Standards Digital Resource Library Forecasts & data
About Contact Newsroom
$vuetify.icons.faTimes
$vuetify.icons.faMapMarker Set my location Use the field below to update your location
Address
Change location
{{propApi.title}}
{{propApi.text}} {{region}} Change location
{{propApi.title}}
{{propApi.successMessage}} {{region}} Change location

$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

Daring to be different

{{ tag.label }} {{ tag.label }} $vuetify.icons.faTimes
HIA member Adam Ritson may typically prefer to work on remote projects in the quiet of Tasmania’s wilderness, but his focus on quality speaks volumes for the type of builder he is.

Ian Bushnell

Content Writer

AJR Construct’s Adam Ritson doesn’t like being told a job can’t be done, which is just as well considering the direction his business has taken.

Not many builders take a chopper to work, and there probably aren’t too many in Tasmania up for the challenge of building walkways, cabins and luxury accommodation in the state’s wild places for months at a time. A can-do attitude and a willingness to find solutions, combined with an obsession for quality has seen him build a business mostly on reputation and through word of mouth. Yes, there is a website and a Facebook page but when asked about marketing the response is almost sheepish.

A former national apprentice of the year and World Skills champ, carpenter Adam started out on his own in north-west Tasmania, building mostly for friends and acquaintances, and one thing leading to another, as he puts it. What it has led to is a 35-employee strong business that has cornered the market in remote eco-tourism infrastructure to feed Tasmania’s booming tourism market, pioneering construction by helicopter and prefabrication.

‘I’m not your traditional builder,’ Adam says, a master of understatement.

He now runs an outfit that flies crews, equipment and components into some of Tasmania’s most beautiful and sometimes inhospitable places. But he also finds the time to craft homes like the one at Stowport in north-west Tasmania that won the 2019 HIA Tasmania Custom Built Home (over $800,001) award.

Adam has staked everything on quality, even being prepared to take a loss to uphold it. ‘I had an old painter once tell me, “Look, make sure you always leave quality projects even if it costs you money,”’ Adam recalls. ‘And I can tell you now that has definitely happened on more than one occasion. But we’ve got a clientele that recognises that now. You can’t just focus on the money, you’ve got to make sure you get the quality right, and then the rest will fall into place.’

And he loves a challenge. ‘I’m drawn to things that are a little bit difficult whereas others would probably turn away,’ Adam says.

Adam Ritson of award-winning building company AJR Construct is not your traditional builder. Photo: Jordan Davis
Not many builders take a chopper to work but Adam Ritson is in charge of the logistical challenge of getting workers and materials to remote building sites in Tasmania's wilderness. Photo: Jordan Davis

The Stowport house and another project entered into last year’s state awards both presented challenges that others may have foregone. Stowport, designed by HIA Tasmanian President Xavier Carthew-Wakefield, included a lot of painstaking stone work, as well as tricky interfaces in the roof, floor-to-ceiling glazing, extensive joinery and polished timber floors.

But its signature was the stone feature, laid by a mason over six months at the excruciating rate of 0.8 metres a day, and the exacting nature of the task meant he could only work three days a week. ‘His skill level is exemplary. The quality of that stone work is rarely seen,’ Adam says.

The other house, at Leith on the north coast, was a distinctive two-storey design with a ramp up to an upstairs garage with its own turntable. But it was the twisting, helical staircase that the client had been told could not be built that really got Adam’s attention.

‘It was pretty amazing. We had to re-engage the engineer to alter the structural design,’ he says. ‘We had to pour those stairs in concrete then face them off with timber and plaster, so you wouldn’t know there was concrete under there, but it was about the only way that we could successfully deliver what they wanted.’

It’s a client-focused approach that has seen the business literally take flight.

AJR Construct completed two sites for the Tasmanian Walking Company, which features bespoke carpentry from hardwood timbers. Photo: Jordan Davis
This build in Stowport required painstaking stone work, extensive joinery and other construction challenges. Photo: Jordan Davis

Adam says the day in 2015 that the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife engaged AJR Construct to build an overnight stop on the Three Capes Track in southern Tasmania was the most pivotal in its history. AJR is now the go-to company for delivering eco-tourism infrastructure in Tasmania, and responsible for a large portion of the projects in Tasmania constructed by helicopter.

In 2018, the company completed two high-end sites for the Tasmanian Walking Company, which provides fully guided, high-end wilderness experiences. The 18-month project was a step up in degree of difficulty and quality from AJR’s first job on the track, the crew battling time and the weather to construct top-end facilities that included pools, massage rooms, full solar arrays, hot and cold running water, ovens and dishwashers.

AJR has developed its own systems to manage the military-like operation to safely drop in men, provisions, equipment and components, and set up facilities for a long campaign. To save time, labour and money it has established its own workshop to manufacture prefabricated components, and that has had spin-offs in other areas of work.

Adams says that on some projects site time has been slashed by 80 per cent. His crew includes a couple of boilermakers because the company makes all its structural steel as well.

But for an old chippie, the eco-tourism projects’ extensive use of hardwood timbers is a real treat. ‘Our boys love dealing with that sort of work. It’s real bespoke carpentry,’ says Adam, who still enjoys being on the tools when he can.

The work is demanding and requires a multiskilled and adaptable team, which Adam has taken pains to build over the years, with a strong focus on training. Eighty per cent of the team trained with the company and it employs a half dozen apprentices as well.

‘We like training new tricks into new dogs, it always works well,’ Adam says. ‘We have some kids working for us who get in a helicopter to go to work and they simply don’t know any different.’

AJR Construct is now the go-to company for delivering eco-tourism infrastructure in Tasmania. Photo: Jordan Davis
This eco-lodge on the Three Capes Track offers plenty of high-end amenities despite its remote location. Photo: Jordan Davis

Monthly evaluations, formal feedback sessions and personal accountability are part of AJR’s training culture. ‘If someone makes an error on a project or there’s been a defect and I can track that back to an individual, I try to get them back to that project to deal with it rather than task that to someone else, so they get to see what went wrong, what it means and what it cost,’ Adam says.

He also encourages apprentices to learn how to read plans and specifications, a skill they will need when they progress to leading hand or foreman.

A HIA member all his career, Adam says the company has always been able to depend on its services and support as it grew. Its next phase will likely involve more eco-tourism work but Adam the artisan is not one to put all his eggs in one basket.

‘We’ll always be a company that’s here for a client who wants a bespoke build,’ he says.

You might also like:

In Focus Budget Building Women Federal government
Balancing act
Federal Budget 2024-25 is taking delicate steps forward to what we can hope will be a soft landing - offering cost-of-living relief and more housing.
Jun 24
3 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Standards National Construction Code (NCC) National Construction Code 2025 Residential In Focus
A must-have app
Taking the helm as Standards Australia’s new CEO, Emma Harrington is off to a great start with a handy new app and a close collaboration with HIA. Housing meets Emma to discover what the future holds.
Jun 24
3 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Design Inspiration Sustainability Kitchens Business and digital
Making a splash
Daniel Ferretti and Theresa Leonardos run ISPS Innovation, a one-of-a-kind bespoke kitchen and cabinetry establishment that embraces sustainability, craftsmanship and entrepreneurialism.
Jun 24
4 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Apprentice Awards Business plans People
It all starts here
When Crew Built launched in 2021, the passionate team had a combined industry experience of more than four decades. So, what made them stand out to win the 2024 HIA Australian Start-Up Business Award?
Jun 24
3 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
In Focus Planning Development Approval (DA)
It's now or never
Genuine planning reform is critically needed as development plays a vital role in the Australian economy and shapes our way of living
Jun 24
4 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
National Construction Code 2025 National Construction Code (NCC) In Focus
Time to re-charge for NCC 2025
As the dust settles on the National Construction Code 2022 changes, we explore the latest proposed amendments reshaping Australia’s building landscape. From energy efficiency and electrification to condensation and waterproofing r...
Jun 24
4 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Inspiration Residential Projects
An opulent oasis
Constructed with a clear vision and intentionality, Oasis Cronulla is all about luxury, location and an elevated lifestyle. As a result, this outstanding development won both the 2024 HIA Australian Apartment of the Year and 2024 ...
Jun 24
4 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Inspiration Residential Projects
Into the Horizon
The 2024 HIA-CSR Australian Home of the Year, named ‘Horizon’ for its endless views, is a symphony of bold asymmetric lines, crisply articulated in off-form concrete, steel and glass.
May 24
4 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
President's report Strategic planning
Gold Coast and Northern Rivers Chair's report
As Committee Chair, I reflect on housing excellence, advocacy, and industry growth, highlighting the region's commitment to skill development and community engagement.
May 24
2 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
President's report Construction Awards
Hunter President's report
Two Hunter members were recently acknowledged for their significant contribution to our industry, members, and HIA.
Apr 24
2 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Apprentice Building Women Kitchens People
Be the good
A passionate perfectionist, Kristy Francis of Lathams Kitchens is embarking on her 25th year in the building industry. An integral part of several HIA committees, she reveals her talent and what keeps her motivated.
Apr 24
4 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
President's report Safety Construction
WA President's report
Although the year has started at a positive pace, we continue to face population growth, increasing demand and labour shortages.
Apr 24
2 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight