Quality has a lasting impact on the success of a building. It’s not only about avoiding any mistakes or shortcuts during construction, but also ensuring that the building functions at its best, throughout its life cycle–and delivers the best value for both its owners and everyone that uses it. That’s something that Peter Grantham at KRT Building Consultants is really passionate about.
After moving to New Zealand from the UK, Peter realised that there was a great opportunity to help owners and occupiers to get the most from their buildings. Based in Auckland, KRT Building Consultants provides building surveying and project management services and, since its foundation in 2018, has enjoyed great success.
In this edition of Behind the Build, we speak to Peter about his career in construction, his passion for quality and how technology helps to deliver the best service for clients, so they can maximise the value of their buildings.
But first, watch how KRT Building Consultants uses software to deliver on quality.
How did you get started in construction?
My initial interest in construction started when I assisted a neighbour undertaking a refurbishment and extension on an 1850s property. I had just left school at the time and had no idea what I wanted to do next. I remember it was pretty amazing to bring new life to a derelict old building. In fact, that probably sparked the passion for maintaining and refurbishing buildings that is still at the heart of my career today.
From this early introduction to construction, I went on to study Building Surveying and in 1994 obtained my BSC (Hons). I continued in this sector and in 2008 achieved my membership of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
How did you start KRT Building Consultants with Keith and Keith?
After some hectic working hours in London and with our young family starting to grow, my wife and I emigrated from UK to New Zealand in 2010. I joined one of the three largest building surveying practices in Auckland and it was there that I meet Keith Rankine. About a year later, another former colleague, Keith Tickner, also decided to make the move to New Zealand, after some very warm encouragement from me!
The two Keiths joined forces and started KRT in January 2018–and just a few months later I joined them. Although the decision felt daunting, at the same time it was really easy to say yes. I had worked with both these guys for seven years each, so I knew of their work ethic and desire to do the best for their clients. And so, KRT was born.
What gets you out of bed every day?
They say that variety is the spice of life and in our profession, that’s especially true. I love the fact that you just never know which client is going to call or what assistance they’ll want.
I’m also really passionate about delivering the best service for our clients–and particularly about using innovative solutions and technologies to meet their needs.
PlanGrid is a great example of this; we use the software to report on quality issues during the construction phase. Whilst it’s never optimal for a contractor to hear that corrective work is needed, having an intuitive report that advises what the issue is, where it is and who needs to fix it allows these problems to be corrected much more quickly. That makes the client’s life easier, while also keeping our team at KRT Consultants really efficient. We use this sort of innovative approach to deliver the excellent level of service and quality that sets us apart from the competition.
What project are you most proud of and why?
Whilst working at a London practice, I was asked to lead on the refurbishment of an existing warehouse to provide a renal dialysis unit for a hospital. I managed the project from inception to delivery and it threw up some extreme challenges, from making the building wind and water-tight, through to adapting the internal space to create a modern, functional dialysis unit.
The end users were delighted with the finished scheme. The healthcare team made particular reference to the light and airy feel that we had achieved through the use of natural timbers and the introduction of colour in the treatment areas. This reduced the feel of a clinical environment and improved the patient experience.
When an end user tells you that you’ve really exceeded their expectations, it gives you the motivation to keep improving what you do. The project was a great success and has been used as a benchmark for subsequent renal dialysis schemes.
What are some of the specific challenges the construction industry faces in New Zealand?
The construction industry here is doing really well, thanks to high demand across the country. But at the same time, that means there is a big skills shortage in the sector. As a result, firms can’t always deliver projects to the highest standard and we frequently see issues with the quality of the final build. For the industry to keep growing, it will be really important to increase the level of skills in every firm and attract the next generation of builders to the sector.
What advice do you have for the next generation of consultants?
To deliver buildings with minimal defects, there needs more collaboration and innovation across the project team–and that means everyone, from the contractor to the consultants and client. Investing in software that helps you ensure everyone on the project has the latest project drawings at speed will bring the team closer together, while cutting down costly delays in the building process.
Across the wider industry, digital technology will be really important in the years ahead. Everyone will need to increase their skills to use technology confidently–but at the same time, “soft” skills will remain really valuable. That means abilities like teamwork, adaptability, leadership and communication.
I was lucky enough to complete leadership training and I think those collaboration and communication skills have been useful throughout my career. In the long term at KRT Consultants, we’re hoping to recruit three younger employees and I think ensuring they can work well together will be vital.
What do you want to achieve with your business?
We have three simple aims: be in control of our destiny, provide the best possible advice and leave a legacy.
It’s about putting the client’s best interests at the heart of what we do; if we can’t keep our clients happy, then we’re in the wrong industry. Innovation is one of our biggest strengths and we want to keep it at the core of our business to help us deliver the best service for our clients and carry on improving the value of the buildings we work on.
Hear more about how KRT Building Consultants uses PlanGrid to deliver the best service for its clients in this video.