15/08/2018 - 09:08

Brokers building a better process

15/08/2018 - 09:08


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From a reputational point of view, Tristan Kirkham acknowledges the role played by building brokers is not as well understood as that of insurance and mortgage brokers.

Brokers building a better process
Tristan Kirkham says being able to provide recommendations independent from any builder or product supplier underpins his business. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

From a reputational point of view, Tristan Kirkham acknowledges the role played by building brokers is not as well understood as that of insurance and mortgage brokers.

But Mr Kirkham, who founded New Home Building Brokers in 2009, says it’s an industry sector providing value to builders and their clientele.

Having worked in management and building consultancy roles, and undertaking work across several local project and private home builders, Mr Kirkham has built up his pipeline of work and now assists with about 75 new builds a year.

NHBB assists clients at all stages of the building process – from house design and choice of a builder to dealing with stalled projects (either through cost blowouts, a dispute with the builder or difficulty with council approvals), as well as when a builder goes under.

“I love my industry but I don’t love our reputation,” Mr Kirkham told Business News.

“If you’re at a barbecue and ask someone about their building experience, nine times out of 10 people will say it was bad.

“My business is not about belting up the builders, it’s a fit for both sides. Sometimes builders get screwed over in a number of ways, like (competing on) low margins, which means clients are equally at risk.

“I knew there was a better way to help builders and keep clients happy at the same time; my role is to understand the market and provide unbiased information so people can make informed decisions.

“And if we give builders a client they know the chances are high of actually building that house – the public now shops around for the cheapest price.”

There are 90 builders on NHBB’s workbook, chosen (or removed) based on a criteria including track record and quality control, with each offering something different in terms of location (north or south), infill or greenfield, and whether they specialise in renovation, custom builds or new builds.

Client information is inputted into NHBB software, which then funnels down to five or so recommended builders.

Mr Kirkham said although some of his clients were able to save 20 per cent of the final build cost, the service was not about looking for the lowest tendered price, but understanding the real costs and uncovering efficiencies by choosing the right avenues, builder and products.

More than 80 per cent of NHBB’s work was sourced from client referrals and Mr Kirkham said the business had grown year on year, with about 15 other building brokers operating in Western Australia.

Craig Ginbey founded his building broker business Perth Residential Developments 11 years ago, backed by 30 years of experience in the building industry, including work at BGC. 

Mr Ginbey said people traditionally had two options when building their home – builder direct, with copyright on house plans, which meant clients were unable to source a second price quote or walk away.

The second choice was an architect, which he said was often an expensive process.

Mr Ginbey said although building brokers were not regulated, services generally gave clients copyright over their plans, with most brokers paid a consultancy fee in lieu of a builder’s internal consultant. 

“Most people just want to know they’re getting a fair house for a fair price built in a fair time period,” he said.

“You’ve heard of insurance and finance brokers … it’s exactly the same; I don’t have a foot in any camp with a builder or product.

“For the client it’s no more expensive to use us, but it’s also a benefit to builders; we’ve done all the drawing plans, so it’s a cost they don’t have to incur.

“The client is also generally pre-approved with finance so they know they can actually get to site within a three month process.”


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