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Interview: Buckley Building

We had a chat to Cal from Buckley Building about what it takes to be a business owner.

Tell us about Buckley Building; what do you guys do, and what’s different about you to your competitors?

We are a residential building company. We specialise in custom built, one off homes. People’s dream homes I guess… We only ever take on a maximum of 2 projects at any one time. This ensures we are not spread too thinly and can be across every detail that project encompasses. We really value communication with our clients. It’s such a huge financial and emotional investment for them, we want them to know that we are as invested in their home as they are. In my line of work, your reputation is EVERYTHING. It isn’t as much about marketing and branding as it is about providing the client with a home that exceeds their expectations. Being on time and on budget helps too!

Why did you decide to go into business?

I don’t think I ever consciously decided to go into business to be honest, it just somewhat evolved. I left school at 16 to start my carpentry apprenticeship as I always knew I was destined to be chippy. Once I completed my apprenticeship, a mate of mine and I started just sub-contracting to builders, picking up whatever work we could get. I was only 22 and didn’t mind having the odd Monday off! Then I put on some extra carpenters as our demand rose and we had a crew of around 10 carpenters within a few years. We were predominantly a framing carpentry crew – really hard, physical work. Then my back blew out and I had to have 3 months off the tools, so I studied and sat my builders license. Once I got my builders license, we started doing small renovations (bathrooms/kitchens etc) and eventually started doing larger extensions with bigger budgets. Nowadays most of our builds are around $1,000,000. It’s been a pretty crazy 10 years!  

How have RBK helped you along the way?

I would have been one of RBK’s first clients! JK is one of best mates and has always been my accountant. We used to do my tax over a few stubbies in his bedroom at his parents home when I was an apprentice and JK was in uni. I can’t put into words how much Jonny has helped me over the years. I simply wouldn’t be where I am today without his guidance and expertise.  I’ve followed him through his previous employers and when the boys decided to start RBK, I was always on board. I wouldn’t mind a kick-back either for the amount of referrals I’ve gifted them too!

RBK have gone from strength to strength which is awesome to see. Their fundamental knowledge of all things tax is second to none, they are on the absolute cutting edge of technology, although teaching this to IT illiterate tradies is likely quite a challenge for them! They seem to have a great culture internally also which I really rate. Having a ‘one stop shop’ for business is incredibly helpful for a new start up, somewhere to go if you need taxation advice, legal advice, systems implementation. I’m really happy with their service. Pretty proud of JK also. 

A valuable lesson for another trade business to learn from?

Don’t try and take on the world in your first few years, you need time to learn your craft. Don’t rush it. Figure out what you do well and areas you can improve. Talk to as many people as you can and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is so much incredible software at your disposal to help you these days that allows you to spend less time doing bookwork and more time doing what you do well! 

What should we be looking for when choosing a builder?

That’s a really tricky question. There are a lot of factors to consider…location, budget, how long you intend to live in the home, what the real estate market is doing etc. I don’t want to slander volume builders but if I was looking to build a home and invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into it, I wouldn’t want to feel like I am just another person in the queue. I would want my builder to know everything about my home, know it inside and out. The saying ‘you get what you pay for’ is arguably truer in the building industry than in any other field. There are a lot of cowboys out there, everyone has heard the horror building stories.

You are going to be talking to your builder every day for the next 12 months so make sure you can communicate with each other. The builder needs to be able to listen to you and understand your needs. You also need to ensure you listen to them, communication is the key to successful builds and happy clients. Issues will crop up along the way, that’s just the nature of the game but with strong communication and understanding from both parties, almost every issue is easily resolved. Make sure you talk to previous clients, I would be weighing my decision a lot more on that rather than their glossy marketing campaigns.