Solar Energy House

We had certain strict (and potentially restricting) criteria we wanted to adhere to when deciding which builder we would use to construct our sustainably designed 609m2 house in Meadowbank – where we do not expect to move for 30+ years.

  • We had personally built out previous house and wanted to improve on the design & components previously used…
  • Architect; Kristina Cope was also the client…and would be actively helping with building...
  • Electrician; Simon Cope was also the client and would also take 6 months off work to also actively helping with general building…
  • Father of client; Sam Cope had previously built 72 other dwellings and wanted to work with the builders Leading Hand/ Head builder as “Overall Project Manager”…
  • Client was going to subcontract some parts of the project to “themselves” or to preferred subcontractors they has previously worked with outside of builders scope/ responsibility…
  • Second stage of a two stage building project that had been started 8 years earlier and required seamless integration between them- even though building standards and significantly changed in that time…

Therefore we initially struggled to find a building company that had the capability to accommodate these various criteria as they wanted to provide 100% of all the (sub) contractors, or were extremely rigid with the materials they would work with, or simply refused to have the client on site each day...

Then we were introduced to Richard Wilkinson of Wilkinson Construction and a couple of other similar building companies… The main difference between Wilkinson Construction and the others was the extreme difference in quoted price: Wilkinson Constructions price sat in the middle between $150,000+ more and $100,000+ less than two other quotes we received.

What scared us about the $100,000 less price was it was literally typed up on one sheet of A4 paper. Minimal evidence of a quantity surveyor had been involved; through to no background on the company, no testimonials from past clients, no photos of previous building construction styles, and an attitude of arrogance that staggered us...

What worried us about the $150,000+ higher price than Wilkinson’s was where did they get there figures from? As the client we were going to be responsible for the slab & block basement, buried water tank, insulation, electrical, plumbing, storm water, roof, driveway, landscaping, project management, painting and all “odd extras”...

Wilkinson Construction was the obvious choice - however we had one minor reservation; even though we didn’t know Richard personally, he lived in the neighborhood… ‘what if it all went pear-shaped?’...

1 Stage 1 of the house was already attracting 500+ people a year (visitors include architects, electricians, domestic and commercial builders, home owners looking to build a scratch, or do major renovation of their homes throughout NZ and Asia Pacific.) formally touring through it to see the integration of solar photovoltaics to generate all of the house’s electricity needs with sustainable design, in a modern house...

However Richard was quick to reassure us that:

  • this had never happened with a prior client of his,
  • the team of 2 qualified builders + 1-2 apprentices he would allocate to this job were experienced professionals,
  • he would be calling regularly on the job to check progress and
  • every Monday morning his team would be meeting prior to going out to all jobs to enable feedback to occur so he could be on top of any developing issues if they started to arise... and
  • he was ensured for all eventualities.
  • Testimonials from his past clients then clinched the deal!

Initial impressions with working with Richard and his team were excellent. Quickly had fencing around the site, signage up to comply with all the safety laws and team communicating with both Kristina and I as the client, but also working with Sam Cope as Project Manager.

From there the project progressed like clockwork with regular site visits (as promised) by Richard, sub-contractors coming in to do scheduled work etc. to a high standard.

Of course there were issues! These were dealt with by Wilkinson Construction extremely promptly and professionally – so never escalated beyond minor issues that are typical on all building sites.

Of course the architect and client changed their minds on parts of the construction as it went along. Richard’s Leading Hand/ Head Builder noted all these alterations and then Richard was quick to notify us - the client that these were not accounted for in the initial quote. He would then quote for the change and approval to proceed was made. This enabled us to keep a close eye on the budget as the project progressed.

Overall working with Wilkinson Construction was as Richard promised. Easy to work with – good communication, great work ethic from his team, efficient and accommodating of clients’ needs and wants – quick to suggest excellent options where needed and high level of master builder construction.

Since the job has been finished over 1000 people have formally visited the house and they have something complimentary to say about the quality and feel of the construction – solid, well made – all the comments we associate with Wilkinson Construction.

We strongly recommend you invest in getting Richard of Wilkinson Construction to build your next commercial or residential building.

- Simon & Kristina Cope

For a close up look and feel of a Wilkinson Construction then check out extensive details on the construction here at www.SolarEnergyHouse.co.nz