I grew up in Strathmore, in Wellington’s Eastern Suburbs. Our home was poorly insulated for our chilly city, and as a baby I developed severe asthma. The early part of my childhood was spent being acutely ill, and I was often hospitalised. I have a lot of gratitude for our medical professionals and the Asthma Foundation NZ, and have been a volunteer for their clinical studies involving inhaler medication and use. With my asthma now well controlled, my own health experience led to a very personal interest in improving the way New Zealand builds to create warmer, healthier, homes that help Kiwis stay well in our often harsh climate.
Once my asthma was under control, in my school years I could generally be found with a hammer in hand. My desire to build was strong, and my first builds were vehicles – more specifically, go-karts.
I lived on a VERY steep Wellington hill, with a driveway gradient of 35 degrees. Much skin was lost on that drive, and I am certain that those neighbours that shared the drive with us lost years off their lives as we hurtled toward them. This design experience helped me understand the importance of planning your work, trying out new ideas, reviewing the results and how to balance competing desires in design (speed did came at a cost to safety).
From this I moved into building and racing street cars, and I raced a Datsun 1600 with a 13B Rotary. Street sprints around Alexandra Road and Shelley Bay whetted the appetite for races futher afield in the Wairarapa and Manfield.
Rallying then beckoned, and in five seasons on the road I learnt a lot about good preparation, contingency plans, and building a great team. As the driver I may be the most visible, but nothing can happen without the navigator and hardworking service team who ensure that the car is in peak performance, making repairs into the night, and arranging essentials such as food and accommodation.
My first house was built at age 11 – a sturdy, two storey fort made in partnership with my good friend Stu. Always wanting to do the job properly, I even plumbed it with running water, and it is still standing today.
So it was inevitable that in1998 I started my Carpenty apprenticeship in the Eastern Suburbs. Working under old-school chippies, I learnt how to construct structurally sound buildings, create high quality finishings, listen well, and keep a tidy site – there was zero tolerance for anything else!!
Completing my apprenticeship, a working holiday to the UK followed in 2001. From this I had my eyes opened to different methods of building, how to build for longevity – and most importantly, to see first hand the way a superior building envelope works to insulate the occupants from the weather outside.
Back in New Zealand, my carpentry knowledge grew and I was promoted to Foreman, and then Head Foreman looking after multiple residential and commercial Wellington sites. Alongside hundreds of residential projects, my building knowledge grew with the diverse projects that Wellington offers – such as building a bridge in Melrose, refurbishing and re-piling Seatoun Wharf, and developing the ponds and the pumping station for the Miramar Golf Club. Applying my existing knowledge to new situations developed my lateral thinking and problem-solving skills.
Managing multi-team, complex, large projects became a specialty. One I vividly remember was the very large fire in 2007 at the iconic Saatchi & Saatchi building on the corner of Taranaki St and Courtenay Place. The building had been rendered structurally unsound as the concrete beams were damaged from the fire, and I was responsible for managing the project to make the building safe, and reinstating the ground level business premises of Burger Fuel and Cubita that had been destroyed. Complex engineering, electrical, structural steel, fire proofing, shop outfitting were all combined with a busy, central city site. For over four months this project sucessfully tested my construction, team, timing, contractor and site safety management.
As a preferred supplier for Vero, I undertook a large amount of insurance reinstatement/replacement work on flood, wind, fire and water damaged properties. From this I gained great insight as to how different materials and methods of construction can fail in certain circumstances – and I utilise this knowledge every day to build better, more durable, solutions. New homes and extensive renovations and alterations allowed me to continue learning, with the construction and installation of residential lifts, glass floors, and even a copper clad turret.
In 2013 the time was right for me to start the next chapter of my career. With my wife Jen, we launched Bright Build. The business reflects our unique expertise – mine as a builder passionate about excellent solutions, quality and efficiency; and Jen’s knowledge from her corporate career as a senior Marketing, Process and Project Manager. With the customer in mind, we designed Bright Build to deliver excellent building services, backed up with superior systems and processes to deliver the ultimate building experience from first phone call until well after project signoff.
Following on from my 600+ hours research on Passive Homes, in 2016 I realised my long-held dream and built my own home, Bright Build office and workshop utilising energy-efficiency principles and materials. Structured Insulated Panels, German airflow systems, a large bank of solar panels, and LED lighting enables me to have a healthier home, warmer in winter and cooler in summer, that is economical to run. I love the look on our clients faces when they see how a properly insulated home can easily and comfortably withstand the worst Wellington conditions (without heating), while also providing an enviornment conducive to good health and lower energy costs.