“Battling on as best we can.” What Level 4 means for us
No beating about the kanuka – Level 4 is hard work for everyone. With construction halted and our sales suite shut, it’s less than ideal for the Ockham Nation. In this update, Ockham Construction captain Will Deihl runs the rule over our live sites, while Ockham’s Joss Lewis explains how the sales team are dusting off their Zoom game.
Sites shut but work goes for Ockham Construction
“I think a lot of people – a lot of businesses – are finding this lockdown harder than last year,” says Ockham Construction's Will Deihl. “We’re mindful of the sacrifice everyone is making for the collective good – and we’re also keenly aware we’re in a better position than most. But there’s no getting around the fact that every day we’re not at work pushes us back.”
Ockham has four sites under construction (Aroha/Avondale, Star Newton/City, The Greenhouse/Ponsonby, Manaaki/Onehunga). We’re also hoping to get underway earlier than planned on two more projects – Aalto in Morningside and Koa Flats in Meadowbank. “We’ll have almost 500 apartments underway,” says Deihl. “We’re well-resourced, well-organised and raring to go. We’re just waiting for the word.”
In the meantime, Deihl and his team are revisiting each project programme and tweaking the order of attack where they can. “We’re going through our shop drawings forensically,” he says (shop drawings include the structural elements of the build – the practical hands-on blueprint derived from the architect drawings). “These include the precast walls, precast stairs... the structural steel elements.”
These checks – and re-checks – ordinarily take place on-site, on the job. Says Deihl: “These are relatively minor time savings, but together they add up. We’ve got this extra time so we’re using it to get our programme components perfectly aligned so we hit the ground running when we get back on site.”
The logistical element, or one could say elephant, in the room are the widely documented supply issues and shortages within the construction industry. “We’re facing the same difficulties as everyone else,” Deihl explains. “Fortunately, we foresaw these issues last year and ordered and pre-purchased the goods we knew had long lead times for supply. We’ve mitigated these risks as best we can.”
With Level 4 restrictions likely for another fortnight at least, and further hold-ups likely, Deihl is phlegmatic about the coming months. “It’s a hoary old cliché,” he says “but it is what it is. Of course, it’s frustrating. And it will hold us up a bit – there’s no getting around that.
“Last year when we went back to Level 3, we were able to operate at about 70%. We’ve got to keep separate work zones, ensure our subbies are in separate bubbles, and each team cannot work in close proximity to each other.”
Less than ideal he says. “But we want our future residents, the extended Ockham whānau, to have their homes built with care and thoughtfulness.
“And so we’ll adjust, regroup, redouble our efforts, do what we can and, sure, get a bit grumpy from time to time. Prep everything so we can smash it when we’re allowed back.”
Sales Team get their Zoom game on
"We're back to the same old new normal,” Joss Lewis says. “Back to tuning in to the 1pm press conferences: back to hoping we can get through this quickly and get back to work.”
Like all the city’s workers stuck at home, Joss and the team are adjusting the best they can. But it’s not the same. “Being extroverts, our sales team thrive on face-to-face contact. It’s frustrating we can’t be at the sales suite where we can show off Ockham’s renowned finishes and attention to detail.”
Spoken like a true saleswoman! “It’s all good,” Joss says, chuckling. “We’re making do. We’ve had plenty of time in previous lockdowns to perfect our Zoom game and have some amazing virtual tours at our fingertips to give you an insight into our developments.”
“We are also grateful we’re in a relatively fortunate position. We’ve had a great run in 2021. We sold out Aroha in Avondale (117 apartments) and Aalto in Morningside (39 apartments). All 14 apartments at Koa Flats in Meadowbank are sold or under contract.”
The team’s main focus for the moment is on Manaaki, the 210-apartment development in Onehunga which is easily the company’s biggest build to date. “It’s going very well,” Joss says. “We’ve sold just under two-thirds – 138 apartments so far.
“But there are still some awesome options available. We’ve got seven one-bed KiwiBuilds, which are an absolute steal at $500,000. And we have some lovely three-bedroom options overlooking Jordan Park next door, with views out over the Manukau Harbour.
“Stunning views,” she emphasises.
Buying off the Plans: A Webinar for First-Home Buyers
With thinking time up their sleeve, the team have come up an idea Joss reckons is pretty exciting. “Many of our purchasers at Manaaki are first-home buyers, so we know first-hand how tricky it can be to navigate the home buying process. We thought: ‘Why don’t we host a webinar to help people through the process?’
“We had a very successful First-Home Buyers Day just before lockdown. We were joined by a mortgage advisor and a lawyer who talked through all the stuff around buying off the plans. So this will be a bit of a virtual version.
The webinar will take place on Wednesday 15 September from 4pm. To register, please go to Eventbrite.
“We're really looking forward to it," Joss says. "If you have any questions about the event – or about anything Ockham – please drop us a line."
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