If you thought managing one large project has its challenges, try being Charles Brown a Senior Associate and the Sector Lead for Housing at Frequency. Charles and his team are currently Engineer to the Contract (ETC) on 45 different Housing New Zealand projects from the North Shore to Hamilton and they just won the contract on two more.
The almost 500 houses the team manages range from infill ‘emergency’ housing, apartment buildings in the central Auckland, a 40 unit development in Hokanui/ Otahuhu and the Northcote state-house intensification project. In total the project cost adds up to around $180M.
The most recent contracts the team have won are part of the $750M Northcote project which is currently the biggest state house transformation in New Zealand. It includes 300 duplex and stand-alone 1940s and 1950s state houses that are being demolished or removed and replaced with 400 new state homes, 400 KiwiBuild homes and 400 affordable free-market homes. Charles will be the ETC on two sites that encompass the redevelopment of the state homes for Housing New Zealand.
“Housing NZ uses its state land to develop far more and far better warm, insulated new state homes, but a much bigger scheme overall is developed, said Chris Aikens, Hobsonville Land Company Chief Executive at Northcote. “More than half that new scheme is sold, funding the new state-housing development in the area.”
Charles’ main role is to administer the NZS 3910 Form of contract that the contractor signs with Housing New Zealand. He then administers the contract – setting up and running monthly control meetings (PCG) at each site, managing claim evaluations for each contractor, dealing with variations and extensions to time claims.
“Each site comes with its own challenges especially when dealing with an array of different soil conditions, suburbs and local council regulations” says Charles.
Charles has a diverse background that started as a civil engineer in construction management and he has now been a project manager for 16 years.
Charles has an interest in modular building, seeing the benefits it could bring towards the housing shortage Auckland currently faces. But he says clients need to specify “prefab” for the industry to change otherwise there are too many limitations especially when it comes to the sub-contractors who could potentially have less work if houses are built off site.
However he sees the benefits outweighing the problems. “If we get residential modular building humming in New Zealand we could see houses going up in half the time resulting in major cost savings and the potential to build far more sustainable homes that will cost a lot less to run in the future” says Charles.
“Overseas there are some great examples of beautiful prefabricated homes solving housing shortages. Homes are built in a factory and then transported to the site fully assembled, sometimes taking as little as four months from start to finish. Building a home in a “closed environment” reduces potential defects, labour costs and weather-related construction delays” says Charles.
“And it would reduce the geographical scope of my job significantly!” he says with a laugh.