Wealth of knowledge behind builder
Blair Davies has experienced his trade from different sides of the fence, as an employee, a building inspector and now as the owner of a building firm.
The Registered Master Builders Association member and owner of Blair Davies Building Invercargill has clocked up 36 years experience in the industry, including a 10 year stint as a building inspector with the Southland District Council from 1995 to 2005.
Blair considered he had a good technical knowledge before taking on the building inspectors role, but “ actually learned quite a lot”, he says.
His patch included Stewart Island and Fiordland where the locations of remote back country huts required him to be transported by helicopter.
While some district building authorities use several inspectors during one job, Blair enjoyed having the sole responsibility and satisfaction of seeing a project through from the start to final sign-off.
The knowledge base he accumulated has proven a bonus since starting his own business and going back on tools.
“Getting the background technical knowledge was ideal for going out on my own. All the things I’ve picked up from (technical) reading speeds everything up; you’re are not constantly going back to the book to see what you’ve got to do.”
He has been self-employed for 12 years and, before becoming a building inspector, gained considerable experience as an employee for a variety of construction firms.
That experience covered new houses and alterations and large commercial and civic projects, including with national firms such as Downers and Fletchers.
With low volumes of new residential building in Southland, alterations have become something of a specialty for Blair Davies Building and its three staff.
The company is prepared to tackle almost any alteration or addition regardless of the complexity required to create a seamless look between old and new.
“Being old-school, I learnt how to do everything,” Blair Davies says.
However, alterations can have potential hooks, so Blair makes it clear up-front that a job will most likely involve more work and cost than is known at the start. “I’ve never had anyone come back and complain; they’ve always been happy with the result.”
Although it has not always been easy to recruit good staff, his team are on the same page when it comes to the quality of workmanship they are producing.
As well as being skilled hands-on tradesmen, Blair encourages them to be good thinkers in order to work out the best way to approach technical aspects of a project.
For Blair, this can sometimes involve nutting out problems during the night when he should be asleep.
“I’m constantly working out how to make things easier, quicker and more cost effective for the client.” His personal standards means he hates sloppiness and expects a job to be right first time, every time, which eliminates call-backs while ensuring clients are his best advertisers.
“I’ve got some very good clients that are stoked with our work and they’ve recommended us to others.
“A lot of clients are happy for us to show work we’ve completed on their houses to prospective clients, so it’s great to have that feedback.”