Compact team stands by its work
There can be no greater affirmation for a builder than being asked to build an architect’s home.
For Christchurch architectural builders Chris Fifield Building Ltd, it was a matter of not one architect’s home but two architects’ homes, and both on the challenging Richmond Hill overlooking Sumner Beach.
Managing director Chris Fifield is modest when talking about the business he founded nine years ago, not long after moving to Christchurch following three years working and playing semi-professional rugby overseas.
Setting up shop in Christchurch in 2009, Chris worked on his own for the first couple of years.
When the earthquakes struck he’d built the team up to four builders, but quickly increased numbers to 12 to cope with the extra demand.
These days, the business operates out of premises in Sydenham. In addition to an experienced building crew of six, two administrative staff manage day-to-day running.
Chris says that the business operates anywhere in the Canterbury area and generally has three or four residential projects in progress at any one time. He maintains oversight of these.
“Renovations and extensions had been our focus for a long time, but over the last three to four years new architectural builds on the hill have been a major thing for us.”
Chris acknowledges that attention to detail and craftsmanship is the common mantra within the building trade, but he says the relatively small size of his business is its core strength.
“We’re such a small wee company that I’m the one doing the initial meetings and I’ll always be on site and able to be reached by clients.
“They can always get in touch with me because it’s my name on the company. “After the build is completed, we are there making sure things are right and standing behind our work.”
A friendship forged in the gym between Chris and architect Regan Johnson triggered the first job on Richmond Hill.
After the architect saw examples of Chris Fifield Building’s craftsmanship the deal was done. “There was a massive ground excavation with big retaining walls and footings,” says Chris.
“It took us nearly eight months just to get out of the ground, with different obstacles in the way including weight limits on the road.
“We couldn’t bring up any more than four cubic metres of concrete at any one time, and when you are pouring 150 cubic metres of concrete in any one footing it takes a long time to do it.”
After 18 months, the build is in its final touch-up stages and the client has moved in.
The four-bedroom, 350sqm home with floorto-ceiling glass is flooded with lots of natural light, and built halfway up the hill the property commands amazing views of Sumner Beach.
Chris says that word of mouth and referrals have been the source of the majority of the company’s work.
As a result of Chris Fifield Building’s high quality work on one architect’s home, it is now building for another architect – serious affirmation of its reputation for craftsmanship.