Client involvement — the key to satisfaction

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The clients of this Urbo Homes property hit the jackpot with their Whangarei family home, which has all the benefits of living close to town and the luxurious serenity of rural life.
Urbo Homes was the national winner of the New Homes $450,000-$600,000 category in the Registered Master Builders 2007 House of the Year, in association with PlaceMakers.

The contemporary design of this expansive home satisfied the client’s request for a strong sense of indoor-outdoor flow. The home incorporates an open-plan designer kitchen and living area leading on to a covered outdoor dining and fireplace area, which has a lean-to roof featuring exposed macrocarpa rafters.

Simon Crawford of Urbo Homes says the initial discussion about the home was held prior to viewing the site.
“When we got out and viewed the block we could tell immediately that the land was going to work well with the style of house our clients were wanting. Envisaging the finished product became much easier.”

The home, which was inspired by the client’s bach, was not exceptionally difficult to build. But ensuring all its elements were just right required a lot of teamwork from the Urbo Homes builders and their subcontractors.

“I view subcontractors as an extension of my business, which is why I only choose the best and work hard to have good relationships with them,” Mr Crawford says.
“I ensure we are always organised so that everything is ready and waiting for subcontractors when they come to work on a job. That way we don’t waste their time and they don’t waste ours.”

But Mr Crawford realises a strong team of builders and subcontractors is not enough to deliver an exceptional home. The ability of the builder to realise their client’s vision is paramount to delivering an outstanding property.
“The key is asking lots of questions in the initial briefing meeting and involving the clients as much as possible.
“I encourage clients to visit us on site, have a look around and to ask questions. The more involvement they have throughout the building process, the more satisfied they are with the finished product, and the less chance there is that something important to them is missed.”

Mr Crawford, who started his career in building years ago as a joinery apprentice, established the Urbo Homes brand in Whangarei three years ago.
He says the biggest challenge for the business at the moment is keeping a good handle on costs. He says estimating and pricing in the initial stages of a job are particularly difficult, but it is important to be realistic.

Networking is another important business consideration, and Urbo Homes Whangarei has recently employed a new operations manager to ensure Mr Crawford has the time to interact with existing and prospective clients.

“For me, it’s about giving clients the time they deserve and really making them a part of the process.”
Winning a House of the Year national award is a highlight of his building career to date, especially as it was for the first home he built in Whangarei. He admits he was impressed by the level of interest Urbo Homes received after its success in the competition.
“We had one call from a prospective client five minutes after the 2007 House of the Year television programme aired, and three the following day!”

With that sort of attention, Urbo Homes seems to have cracked the formula to delivering award-winning homes.

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