Axons Unleashed S2 E8: Building Inspection, The Final Piece of The Puzzle

Welcome to Season 2 of Axons Unleashed!

The final piece of the puzzle in this season is by no means the least! Having an impartial and qualified building inspector represent your interests at the end of the build is such an important aspect to being totally satisfied with your property.

Meet Nigel and Erica from iBuild – they’re a husband and wife team with more than 35 years of experience.

Hear from them on how their passion, processes and attention to detail protect you and enforce the high level of build quality that Axon demands.

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Episode Transcription:

Robbie:
Hi morning, everyone. My name’s Robbie, and I’ve actually got a bit of a change in the office here today. So I’m not joined with my regular co-host, I’m here with the wonderful Jane who’s our build support manager, and we’ve got the amazing Nigel and Erica from iBuild. We’re going to be talking about all things, the importance of building inspections.

Jane:
Welcome-

Robbie:
Morning, [crosstalk 00:00:31] everyone.

Nigel:
Thank you. Thank you-

Erica:
Thank you.

Nigel:
For having us, guys. I really appreciate your-

Robbie:
Yeah? Great to see you both. I can see it’s… Tamara and I, as you know, run the business as a husband and wife team. And now you guys have that, would you say yeah, fortunate opportunity or…

Nigel:
Definitely.

Robbie:
Definitely a unique experience of running a business as a husband and wife team. So I’m really looking forward to going through a range of questions and allowing our listeners and our followers to really get to know and understand exactly what you guys do as well.

Nigel:
Yeah. Cool.

Robbie:
So this is going to be a great, great little episode today. Jane, you and I would agree that no doubt, one of the biggest risks that people face when they’re going through a build project, there’s what? 10,000 or so micro components that go into building a house.

Nigel:
Yeah.

Robbie:
There is an awesome, little frame-by-frame video that we show our clients about, there’s this many meters of wood, there’s this many meters of tiles, there’s this many tons of bricks that go into building a house. And it’s literally manmade from the ground up. So certainly having a perfectly built half a million dollar house at the end of the build process is really… it’s on everyone’s minds and certainly in the name of risk management, we want to make sure that an independent building inspector that has no former relationship with the builder. As opposed to just going in there and literally looking like a fresh set of eyes over everything. And that’s exactly what you guys do.

Erica:
Yeah.

Nigel:
Thousands of man hours too really.

Robbie:
Yeah, that’s no doubt.

Nigel:
Involved in that building too.

Robbie:
Yeah, absolutely. And as we’re speaking off air quickly, Jane, your husband, the great man [Jeffrey 00:02:02] he’s a site supervisor for one of our buildings and Erica, what did you say straight away?

Erica:
Oh, totally relate.

Robbie:
No but you also said he’s a very good one.

Erica:
Yes, he is.

Robbie:
Did you not?

Erica:
Yes-

Nigel:
Yeah. He’s a great supervisor.

Erica:
Yeah.

Robbie:
Nice, so that’s a-

Nigel:
It’s a very tough job.

Robbie:
That whole skin in the game principle. Because we, Jane and I, get to read the reports that you guys do on houses that Jeff builds. I can assure you if he’s dropping the ball, Jeffrey gets some feedback at nighttime for-

Jane:
He absolutely does. And-

Nigel:
He knows it too.

Jane:
They all have a bit of healthy competition too-

Nigel:
Yeah. Which is good. And that’s what it is. It’s just healthy competition.

Jane:
Yeah, yep.

Nigel:
And it’s actually good for a builder to have that-

Jane:
Yep.

Nigel:
With their supervisors, because it’s not showing anyone up.

Jane:
Yeah.

Nigel:
It’s just taking pride in what you do.

Jane:
Yeah. Absolutely. And they have a bit of fun with it too.

Nigel:
Oh, definitely, yeah.

Jane:
They were-

Nigel:
[crosstalk 00:02:50] integrity for sure.

Jane:
Yeah.

Robbie:
It is by far the biggest risk that we, as a firm that educators, coaches and guiders. Guidance of their clients across the whole process. So season two has been all about speaking to the mortgage broker, speaking to the accountants, speaking the financial planner, speaking to the solicitor, speaking to the property manager, speaking to the insurance guy. Now, here we are speaking about building inspections. If we introduce our client to a builder who goes under halfway through the build, or does a shit job at the end of the build, or goes away over time, they’re in body liquidated damages territory. No matter how good the coaching was, no matter how good the property acquisition was, no matter how… with the properties going up in value, that client’s going to have a bad taste in their mouth because they got an axon policy in touch with a builder and they did a shit job.

Robbie:
And the likelihood of us using axon and that builder again, is going to be diminished a lot. So it doesn’t keep me up at night anymore because we’ve really, really focused in on whittling down the quality of the builders that we use. And certainly I’m going to seek your feedback today on what you think, because you’re the ones that you see the properties.

Nigel:
Day in day out.

Robbie:
Yeah, that’s right. When the builder builder puts their hand up and says, “We’ve now finished what we think is the great job.” Third party inspector comes in check… basically give us the red paint over at all. That’s ultimately the test and some of the building inspections recently have come back in, with two, three, four little tiny defects on them, which is absolutely phenomenal.

Nigel:
That’s all they are too, Robbie. When I put down the minor defect, it’s something that you can see from that 1.5 meters away, but any further away you can’t.

Robbie:
Yeah, that’s right-

Nigel:
So we’re being very particular about what we do and it’s that consistency as well that’s really important.

Robbie:
And we absolutely love that about you guys. It’s very clear to me that this is you guys now living your best life. You’re very, very passionate, that might be a good little segue. So Nigel, why don’t you start us off? Tell us about your background, where you come from and everything?

Nigel:
I’ve spent 30 years in the building industry, mostly in residential housing. Working for some of the big corporate companies like Mirvac in site manager, roles, project manager roles, and maintenance roles as well.

Robbie:
Right.

Nigel:
So for me, from my point of view, I don’t just look at what’s being built. I look at the future of the builder as well.

Jane:
Great.

Nigel:
So 12 months down the track, five years down the track. So if there’s anything that the builder are fixing, for instance, like we were talking about this morning, gold screws on the external.

Jane:
Yeah, you didn’t like that one very much.

Nigel:
No, I don’t. And I’ve seen those-

Erica:
There’s a reason.

Nigel:
I’ve seen those.

Robbie:
Why would they do that? Tell us about that quickly.

Nigel:
Well, it’s just the plumber or the electrician has those screws in his box and that’s what he uses to fix the regulator to the wall or whatever it is. And these guys often don’t come back 12 months later or two years later, so they don’t see the outcome. But for me, I I see that outcome five years down the track when that regulator falls off the wall, because the screws have rusted.

Robbie:
Right. You’re talking about that level of detail, your eye is that keen, you can see the difference between-

Nigel:
It’s just that maintenance history, the builder doesn’t want to go back to the house. So the only way to avoid that is by doing the right thing in the first place.

Jane:
Getting it right the first time-

Nigel:
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:06:13] Even just using the right fixings for me is… and I’m not having a crack at the builder. I’m just wanting to builder not to come back to that house.

Jane:
Yeah. You are very supportive of the builders. You have-

Nigel:
Yeah. I’m a builder, sorry to interrupt.

Jane:
No, no.

Nigel:
But I’m a builder myself. And we’ve built our own homes as well, and we’re really passionate about what we do and it’s just time consuming. You got to concentrate on the build, not coming back later on and rectifying things that you should have done during the build.

Erica:
Can I just add too, sometimes a small gold screw can be quite a complex issue a couple of years down the track-

Robbie:
Sure.

Erica:
When you’ve got tenants or owners, you’ve trying to gain access. It’s rusted through and it’s become expensive to fix. You’re sending trades back to try and fix it. So a little gold screw can be something quite major down the road.

Nigel:
And I did have a builder prior to Christmas. He wanted to meet me on site, not one of your builders, but he was complaining about the gold screws and he actually grabbed the regulator and gave it a bit of a pull and it actually came off the walls.

Jane:
Oh, gosh.

Nigel:
And then realized that-

Robbie:
There you go, champ.

Nigel:
Yeah. Okay. So I’m not making things up. I just see what I see. And I’d just like to ensure that the builder’s got an opportunity to do the right thing and make sure they’re not coming back.

Jane:
Yeah.

Robbie:
And certainly I’ve seen when you guys provide your reports. And we’ll get into that, the devil in the detail shortly in the awesome little software, very efficient. You were saying yesterday, within an hour of doing the inspection, the report is out and [crosstalk 00:07:51] that is phenomenal. It’s so good. So good. But I see that you… it’s not just your opinion about whether something’s right or wrong. You’ve got to quote the Australian standard and the reference every single time, which I just find phenomenal-

Nigel:
Australian standards are very important. Yeah.

Robbie:
Yeah, to the building code. Erica, what about you? Tell us about your background.

Erica:
I worked in vocational education for a very long time. And I worked with teaching faculties to develop strategies for reasonable adjustment in curriculum for learners that may need different ways of learning to support their learning and then go on and get careers and be qualified. So that’s where I came in. When Nigel had all this wonderful building experience and knowledge, and was really frustrated with someone walking on the job at the end of the building process and picking the bill to bits who maybe wasn’t qualified to do so-

Nigel:
In a negative way too.

Erica:
Yeah, and present reports in a really negative way. And so I came in with user-friendly format knowledge, and plain English version and imagery. And we used to use a lot of adaptive technology in our learning in the classroom. So that’s where I came in and we amalgamated our skillsets and started working on the software-

Robbie:
I’m 48. How old are you guys? May I ask?

Erica:
54.

Robbie:
Right. I was just going to say-

Erica:
Do I have to say?

Robbie:
The world now knows I fucking love seeing people that are older than me, get their teeth stuck into technology.

Erica:
Yeah.

Robbie:
And you guys are turning back the clock. You guys are talking like you’re 25 year olds, talking about adaptive technology and you’re in your fifties. I just find that so inspiring. So yeah. Good on you for doing so-

Erica:
Thanks, Robbie. We really appreciate it.

Jane:
That’s awesome.

Robbie:
It is good. It is good. Hey, so Jane, I remember it would have been maybe mid last year. One of the building inspectors that we’d been using for quite a while-

Jane:
Long time.

Robbie:
Was retiring. He was getting to his early sixties and he’s like, “I don’t want to fucking do this anymore.” He didn’t exactly say that to me, but that’s probably what he was thinking. So of course you and I-

Jane:
That’s what his wife said.

Robbie:
Had a bit of an issue-

Nigel:
I think he’d enough the last time I saw him-

Robbie:
Yeah. A great man too. A great man, by the way.

Nigel:
He is great.

Robbie:
Similar to you guys, been doing it for many, many years and just that really, really keen eye for detail, like the ultimate professional. And certainly like the cases with you guys now, when someone from iBuild goes and does an inspection of the house, the builder doesn’t roll their eyes. They’re like, “Nah, what’s his bloody [inaudible 00:10:19] going to pick up on?” It’s almost like from a military perspective, they click their heels together. They salute and go, “All right. So welcome to the house. And please go in now, do the inspection for me.” Which is really, really cool. Right?

Nigel:
I think that’s what they need to do too-

Robbie:
100%. So of course, Jane and I, and Dan, the ops manager, were like, “We now need to try and find another awesome building inspector. We’re not going to compromise on quality. We’re now used to this super high level that we had from the other guy.” And I do believe it was maybe it was Erica, that one of the builders that you guys were using, maybe mentioned our name, that axon was looking for another building inspector.

Erica:
That’s correct.

Robbie:
Yeah.

Erica:
Yeah.

Robbie:
Which-

Erica:
It was actually 42 homes and Paula wanted to introduce us to you guys and-

Jane:
Yeah.

Erica:
And that’s how the relationship began-

Robbie:
And did you know Paula as well?

Jane:
I know Paula from a former life, we used to work together at a different building company. So I’ve known Paula for many, many years.

Robbie:
I say this with the greatest of love, the little incestuous crew, the community-

Nigel:
It’s a community.

Robbie:
That’s a better way of putting it.

Nigel:
Yeah.

Robbie:
The community crew of like who’s been around in the building industry because Jane’s very well known. You’ve been building houses long before you come to axon. So your network and who you know in the overall community is very, very valuable. So yeah, it was a great opportunity. Nigel, I remember you and I having a couple of-

Nigel:
Yeah. A great discussion-

Robbie:
Conversations on the phone. I said, “All right, buddy. This is what the expectations are. These are our clients. We work extremely hard to find them. We coach them, we guide them. They’re educated, they’re no bullshit. They’re very good communicators, they’re highly organized. They’re all in the military. All veterans.”

Jane:
And actually Nigel’s response to that was, “Oh, thank God. That’s perfect. Amazing, I’m going to work with you guys.” You were so-

Erica:
And then that was my response as well, actually when Nigel got off the phone, “Ching, ching, yeah. These guys are great.”

Robbie:
But it’s good. And we’re very, very proud. Even, last year we had 142 expressions of interest got submitted.

Nigel:
Wow. That’s-

Robbie:
Guess how many didn’t go through?

Nigel:
None-

Robbie:
Well, we’re not that good. Eight didn’t go through. This is in the heart of COVID. Four of them have now rolled over into this year because there was a change of work circumstances in the family and the other four, very well-meaning, but ill informed family and friends got involved and they decided to go and do their own thing. Now, as you guys know, from a completion and a conversion perspective, that is top notch and that’s… no one else in our space can do that-

Nigel:
Especially during COVID.

Robbie:
Yeah, exactly. [crosstalk 00:12:38] so then I guess it’s another reason why when myself, and Jane and the rest of the crew reached out to the builders and go, “Hey, builder A, we’ve got client Y that wants to build in location X for this price point, what have you got for us?” They literally drop everything else then give us the very best option that they can get their hands on because they know the likelihood of the completion of that transaction going to go ahead is extremely high. So the juice is worth the squeeze as far as that goes.

Nigel:
Yeah. That’s good. That’s great.

Robbie:
What about how did you make the transition from building, being a builder and part of the Master Builders Association, into site building inspections? I know you guys touched on the type and quality of reports before. Tell us about that.

Nigel:
For me, it was just years on the building site, building houses and seeing the quality of the reports coming in. And a lot of the reports I saw were very verbose and over needed, if you know what I mean. There’s lots of pages with not useless information, but something that for a PC inspection or practical completion inspection, the owner wouldn’t be terribly interested in.

Jane:
Right.

Nigel:
So we set about… we knew there was a gap. We knew there was a hole in the market. Some of the reports were very understated. It was just a defect here, and a defect there and no photo and no explanation or the trade to rectify it. So Erica and I set about developing-

Erica:
We wanted to-

Nigel:
Our own software, basically-

Erica:
Streamline it.

Nigel:
Yeah.

Erica:
Streamline the reporting system, be really innovative.

Nigel:
It was really clear.

Erica:
Doing something a bit different than everyone else was doing and an opportunity to start our own business. And have other things like that happen.

Robbie:
How long ago did that happen? How long has iBuild been up and running for?

Erica:
So we’ve been going since 2015.

Robbie:
Okay.

Erica:
So for five years. But for the first two years, we both took contracts in our day jobs and worked those and iBuild on other days sort of thing until we built the business up over a couple of years.

Jane:
Wow.

Erica:
And then Nigel got to the point where it’s like, we’re overloaded now.

Nigel:
Yeah.

Erica:
We need to quit.

Nigel:
We also were getting a lot of feedback from clients about the lack of photos or the lack of explanation, or it’s just sometimes the questions a client asks you, you really need to listen and take that on board. And that’s how we came up with the software that we have basically.

Erica:
So then we went out into industry and asked our industry peers about, “What is it that you want to hear? What do you want to know? How best can we do this?” And so we networked or used our network and we wanted to produce a reporting system that was really understandable for clients, but also for builders. So all stakeholders.

Jane:
Yeah.

Robbie:
It’s really, really great that you guys provide photos of every room and every defect. So there are normal photos and then zoomed in photos and almost like a little rule of next to it as well. So you’ve got that little unit of measure and then of course you place in there what the defect is, who’s responsible to fix it. And then what the relevant reference is as well.

Nigel:
And we often have rooms in the house that are free from defects-

Robbie:
Right, that’s right-

Nigel:
Rather than not reporting on that, I’d like to report on that because it gives some positivity to the house.

Jane:
Yeah. Absolutely.

Nigel:
And it also shows that the supervisor and the building company themselves, are really taking a lot of pride in their work. And I’d like to make sure that people know that. That “Hey, that you’ve got four, five, six bedrooms or rooms in the house that were actually free from defect.”

Jane:
Yeah.

Nigel:
But it’s important for us also, because when we come back to the 12 month builders warranty inspection, I go back to those reports and look at those initial reports. And I can comment based on that initial report, so those reports themselves are like an owner’s manual for us. That was the other thing that if the owner wanted to sell the house down the track, then they’d have two or three reports, basically that they could sell with the house. “Hey, these are the inspection reports that were done on the house. This is the 12 month builders warranty inspection that was done on the house. You can see the quality of the home by the amount of minor defects that the builders picked up.”

Jane:
And see how it’s holding up to it in that period of time-

Nigel:
Yeah, yeah. So that was really important for us as well. It wasn’t just about those initial reports. It was the reports down the track as well.

Robbie:
You’ve just reminded me about something actually. I think, Jane, it might’ve been not long after you started, because what we used to do, because Axon’s been going for four and a bit years now. Jane, you’ve been with us for almost three years or so-

Jane:
Two.

Robbie:
Two and a half? Yeah, coming up, so long enough, well over halfway. At the 12 month mark, we used to just get the property manager to go out there and just do a bit of entry condition report at the 12 month mark. And then of course he, or she generally a young lady, would go… provide a list of defects back to the builder. And of course the builder would receive said defects from said property manager. And they’re like, “Yeah, sorry, champ. We don’t answer to you. I’m not fixing half that shit. Get the tenant to do it.” That’s that fairway, non fairway.

Nigel:
Yeah.

Robbie:
But what I’ve loved about the change of process that myself, Jane and Dan put in place was, when we get the building inspector go out there, “Aye, you guys, same deal. You provide a report.” The builder’s got no choice, but to click their heels together and go, “No problem, sir. I’ll get that fixed for you right away.” Because you’ve got a license under your… Are licensed and under the QBCC for them to be able to go and fix it. So the level of standard’s risen a lot, which is great.

Nigel:
We’ve got an industry professional looking at your house too.

Robbie:
Yeah.

Jane:
Absolutely.

Erica:
And there’s consistency from the PC inspection through to the 12 month warranty inspection. And again, it’s a little bit like a car service manual that you can on sell with your house.

Jane:
And you guys are completely third party impartial as well. So that’s-

Nigel:
Yeah, yeah. Definitely, totally independent-

Jane:
Exactly. Yeah.

Nigel:
Yeah.

Robbie:
Let’s talk about that for a second. So Jane, sorry, question, without warning, I love doing this to you. Couple of things, when you get to that point along the build process and, “Well, okay. The property’s starting to approach practical completion now. Please be reminded Mr. Mrs. Owner, that it’s not full completion, it’s practical completion.” So I’ll seek your feedback on what your definition of practical completion is. And then Nigel and Erica, let’s see how close our interpretation is to that. But how does the client… what’s generally their clients feedback there, Jane? When, “Hey, good news. We’re reaching the end of the build, which is great. Tenants are going to start to be found, but we just need to make sure that third party inspection is going to occur.”

Jane:
So we always explain to them, there will be defects at the property. That it’s not ready for handover. So there’s a big difference between PC and handover. So that’s the first thing. Now practical completion to me, well, the terminology is reasonably habitable and then everything’s complete as per the contract. So even with all of our builders, landscaping’s included in that everything. So there could be a couple of minor emissions. There might be something, toilet handle not installed or something like that. But yeah, pretty much everything’s complete, but just some defects. Which is why we get you guys out. And to have you guys out and the builders that we do work with in tune with our process and what our expectation is. That we don’t want to send you guys out and have 38 pages with 600 defects. We want to have a photo of each room saying free from defects. And we don’t see that very often because it’s a handmade product, like you touched on before Robbie. But yeah, we do. That’s our expectation. We only want a few defects there.

Robbie:
It’s almost like giving the builder the space to let the trainees do their work, let the site supervisor do his check over, the construction manager goes out there. And then the builder puts his hand up and say, “It’s now ready for a third-party inspection.” And so there is a fair bit of coordination Erica I know now in your office about, “Is it ready? Is it isn’t ready? Has a builder signed off and said, yeah, we’re ready for the third party.” Because yeah, it’s a waste of your time. Because then there’s another inspection that needs to occur. It’s unnecessary churn from a quality control perspective for our owners. If you go out there too early because the property wasn’t ready to be inspected. So you are going to find a shit ton of little, minor defects because there’s humans involved. There’s trades involved. Everything’s handmade. Just tell me about the… I know that Jane… that was a really great explanation of layman’s term practical completion. But it’s really important that practical completion is not full completion. It’s not ready for handover.

Nigel:
Yeah. Things for me, even like a beam sitting on the driveway.

Jane:
Yeah.

Nigel:
It’s just that first impression thing. The first photo I take is of the house itself. Yeah. So you’ve got to skip beams sitting on the driveway and a big dirty rough stone coming out the bottom of it. It is just that first impression. So the builder just looking at those items to make sure that that first impression, as soon as you hit the front door, it’s a good feeling rather than a negative feeling.

Robbie:
And you just want to know there’s been a level of care-

Nigel:
Oh, yeah, for sure-

Robbie:
Taken in the property as well. Go for it, Erica.

Erica:
Most builders welcome your inspections. Especially the builders that axon employee and on behalf of their owners. They’re awesome, they want Nigel there because it’s about fine tuning their product.

Jane:
Yeah.

Erica:
And it’s nice to get free from defects. It’s great accolades for the builder, because you can tell that he’s worked through the whole build. He’s been on top of his trades the whole way through-

Nigel:
Yeah. The finishing, the builders that are building-

Erica:
But even the most fastidious builder is going to have quality issues at the end because you’ve got trades like landscapers working over the top of electricians over the top of plumbers, trying to bring the final product together. So it’s going to happen and it’s okay. And they’re okay. Especially when they know that there’s another builder coming in, that he’s not there to scrutinize and hammer the poor guy to death. He’s been working really hard and he’s probably got 20 other houses he’s been building. And they’re trades, they need to know as well. People miss stuff, it’s happened.

Nigel:
And even though we are totally independent from both you and the builder, that doesn’t mean that we still can’t have a rapport with you and the builder-

Jane:
Absolutely.

Robbie:
Of course.

Nigel:
And work together to get the best product available-

Jane:
We all want the same outcome-

Nigel:
It’s like the gold screws thing. I’m not being picky. I’m just saying, if you do that, then you’re not going to have to come back to that house in six months’ time or 12 months’ time.

Robbie:
Jane, with Jeff being your husband as a site supervisor, again it’s a question without warning, tell us about the conversations you guys may or may not have about building inspection reports and building inspectors coming out there. And what’s his experience been over the last little while?

Jane:
He’s always quite… welcomes the feedback and he’s quite happy to work. The gold screws have definitely come up a couple of times, but I probably need to explain that to him now. Make him understand why you’re like that. But no, he’s always really positive. He always comes home and his chest is puffed up when he knows that Nigel has given a good feedback. And that’s the other thing too, you quite often-

Nigel:
It’s the honest feedback too-

Jane:
Yeah. Absolutely.

Nigel:
It’s not made up or it’s-

Robbie:
There’s only one kind, mate-

Nigel:
It’s honest.

Robbie:
There’s only one pond in the Axon world.

Nigel:
Yeah.

Erica:
Yeah, right-

Jane:
Then he’ll walk in and if you’ve given some good feedback, you can tell he’s puffed up and happy. Because he knows that you don’t do that for everyone. You don’t do that, if it’s shit work, it’s shit work. That’s at the end of the day. So-

Nigel:
But then those houses can take five months to build. And if you’ve got 30 or 40 of those houses going at any one time, it’s a big commitment-

Jane:
To get them all right, yeah-

Nigel:
To get a house to a stage where you’re having rooms with free from defects.

Jane:
Yeah.

Nigel:
It’s-

Erica:
That’s quite awesome.

Jane:
Yeah, absolutely-

Nigel:
It’s amazing. It really is-

Erica:
That’s really impressive-

Nigel:
And puffs Jeff’s chest up, it puffs mine out too, because I feel really good for these guys and it’s a tough job.

Jane:
Yeah.

Nigel:
It’s a tough job.

Jane:
Oh, absolutely.

Robbie:
Do you feel like you’ve been a bit of a mentor for some of the young trades over the last few years? Tell us about that-

Nigel:
I always give back. I’ve had experiences during my building career, not so pleasant with suicides and so forth with trades and_

Robbie:
Wow, that’s serious-

Nigel:
And it’s just seeing-

Jane:
Yeah, it’s very serious.

Nigel:
Seeing these guys stressed out and knowing that, again, I’m independent. But if I see a young supervisor that’s stressed out, I’m going to give him a bit of extra time-

Jane:
Yeah.

Robbie:
That’s so good of you.

Nigel:
And if he needs a bit of advice or… I’m in my early fifties, I’ve been doing this job for a long time. I’m not going to neglect the younger people in my industry when they need help.

Jane:
Yeah. That’s a high pressure job.

Nigel:
Oh, yeah.

Jane:
It is hard work.

Nigel:
Yeah.

Erica:
And I always know when Nigel’s needed to spend some time with someone because the reports are not coming in and I’ll go, “Someone’s having a tough time out there today.”

Jane:
That’s so good that you can recognize that-

Nigel:
I just can’t not… I can’t walk away and know that I’ve not said anything or said, “Hey, if you need to speak to me, this is my phone number.” Again, it might sound a bit weird, but I quite protective of the young people in our industry-

Robbie:
It’s weird in the fucking very best way, mate. That’s what it is.

Erica:
And it’s not only the young guys, it’s the elderly guys too, that are being superseded by the younger guys with different qualifications and not… the older guys have done hard core training.

Jane:
Yeah.

Erica:
The younger guys have sometimes just come out of construction management degrees. And so the needs are different. And our support of that is very informal. It’s very confidential. We never ever disclose anything. It’s the background that I come from as well. So it’s just our little informal way of putting back into the industry-

Nigel:
Giving back to the industry.

Jane:
That’s so good-

Erica:
And that rapport building, sorry, that’s part of that rapport. It’s not only about the quality of the product, but it’s about just us all being human beings.

Nigel:
Exactly. Yeah.

Jane:
Yeah.

Nigel:
But it’s also building that supervisor’s confidence up too. The more comfortable they are, the better builder they are. And the better builder they are, the better the product that the client’s going to get at the end of the day.

Jane:
Absolutely.

Robbie:
It’s definitely not something I’m very good at, but feedback is all about the delivery. And if what you’re saying is someone comes from a place of love, and care, and development and firm, but fair feedback-

Nigel:
Oh, it’s firm but fair. All right-

Robbie:
We’re not cutting any corners, but it’s for the greater good of you growing as an individual and taking on that constructive feedback. If you’re taking that on yourself… I’m just, yeah, buddy, props to you mate. It’s so good to hear.

Nigel:
We do that day in, day out.

Robbie:
It’d be so good just to be that dickhead building inspector.

Jane:
Oh, yeah.

Robbie:
It’s too easy to be like that and I’m sure you’ve seen them-

Jane:
There are so many of them out there. So many.

Nigel:
Well, you don’t need to be like that. You’re in an industry with a high suicide rate and young people and older people need to… if you’re able to help someone in your industry, you just need to do that.

Jane:
Yeah. Amen.

Nigel:
For sure.

Jane:
Totally-

Robbie:
So good. Let’s talk about the regulatory authority, the QBCC. Because we’re here in south Southeast Queensland, and you guys are looking at houses in Southeast Queensland for us. So the Queensland Building and Construction Commission, it’s almost like the ASIC, or the ATO or the APRA regulator of the finances in tax and money world. Just tell us about your experiences with them. And how does that fit in with the Master Builders Association, et cetera, et cetera.

Nigel:
So they’re primarily the licensing board for trades and builders and so forth. So they’re really on top of what they do.

Erica:
They’re also the regulatory body.

Nigel:
Yeah, yeah. For the building industry.

Erica:
Yeah. For the building industry.

Robbie:
Would you say, so certainly each state has got its own construction commission-

Nigel:
Oh, definitely.

Robbie:
And what my experience has been anyway, every six weeks or so Today Tonight, or A Current Affair run another story with another young family standing at the front with their arms crossed with a half built house.

Nigel:
Yeah.

Robbie:
And I’ve got to say, from what I can see anyway, the majority of those cases are not in Queensland. They’re down in new south Wales and Victoria, where from I’ve what I’ve observed anyway, the QBCC certainly is a much… It’s not a toothless tiger.

Nigel:
Yeah.

Robbie:
If a builder’s operating outside of their bounds, they’ll be shut down real quick. And if someone makes a complaint to the QBCC, they follow it up to the letter of the law. So everyone’s got this like Thor War hammer sitting over their head as a builder and you guys as well to make sure you’re operating within the rules. Because the QBCC actually give a shit about their quality of houses.

Nigel:
I think some of the other states are actually following the QBCC-

Robbie:
Good to see-

Nigel:
Standards and ethos as well. And it doesn’t always work out. And I think for me as a builder again, if I can avoid a conflict or I can avoid an owner going to the QBCC. And by having a discussion with the builder or the supervisor, then that’s a better way to do it as well. Mediate while you’re out on the job, while you’ve got the client there, the builder there and sort it out there. So you’re not having to go to the QBCC. It’s a very time consuming, can be time consuming-

Erica:
Can be, yeah.

Nigel:
The builder can decide to stop the build if they feel that-

Robbie:
Solicitor’s involved at some stage.

Nigel:
All sorts of stuff.

Jane:
It’s good to know though that that QBCC, is there. And if those grievances can’t be sold on a lower level, now it’s good to know that as someone that is building a property, you can take it to QBCC and you can get shit done. It’s…

Nigel:
Yeah, definitely. And they have a little booklet. As you would have seen, the standards and tolerances booklets. So everyone should be aware of that. All the trades probably carry that booklet around with them. So it’s really handy for them.

Jane:
It’s certainly something that you operate by as well.

Nigel:
Oh, definitely. That and above really. So the standards and tolerances is probably the minimum standard for me, but working above that as well.

Robbie:
From all the listeners that come from a defense background or veteran background, it’s almost like this is the doctrine. The doctrine is the guide, all the range practices, all the activities, everything that the military does has a set of doctrine and rules and regulations around it. So we really need to be aware of what that’s about. But Jane, no doubt your role as a build support manager with the other two, soon to be three girls working underneath you, they’re providing that puppet mastery, I suppose, as far as project management goes. As the saying is well known as at the heart of all conflict lies a lack of communication.

Nigel:
Yeah.

Robbie:
And as soon as there’s a few little… if your hands that are not left-hand on the right hand, it can spiral out of control every now and then. So that’s why I’m really glad that there’s a close relationship between the excellent build support team and you guys and the builders as well. I remember when… just to backtrack a little bit when you came on and then Jason, who’s the owner of one of our big builders down here, once he… the credentials of our building goes, “Robbie I want him to go out there and fucking smash our trades and really hold our bloody site supervisors to account. Because I’ve given you the undertaking that we’re going to build the best houses for your clients so that they can come across. So just release him to the hounds and let him go out there.” So that should make you feel really good. Both of you that you’re having the support [crosstalk 00:31:47]

Nigel:
If you’re going to build a display home or a house on the gold coast and one on the sunny coast, they’ve got to be the same.

Jane:
Absolutely. Yeah.

Nigel:
And for me, that’s the same. Every supervisor I deal with, there’s a level of consistency. I don’t give into one or give more to another, it’s all the same.

Jane:
In fact, we’re constantly doing our homework. I often go with Nigel to [Norumba 00:32:10] or Palm View and go through the display village with him. And this is the product that they’re saying that they’re putting out. So this is what the expectations are going to be for the client now.

Nigel:
The old display villages I call them the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, because do the young, inexperienced family know, there’s been a hundred, $200,000 worth of upgrades placed in those houses-

Robbie:
Exactly.

Jane:
We don’t look at those bits [crosstalk 00:32:34] the quality.

Erica:
Yeah.

Robbie:
But you and have seen it for years then we’re like, “Oh, we just walked through here and we’ve seen builder Ryan. We can get it for so much cheaper here.” We’re like, “But it won’t include the landscaping. It doesn’t include the driveway. It’s not full turn key, all that home automation stuff you saw in there from Sally who in a nice little bloody pink dress was walking through the house. That shit ain’t going to be in your house for the price that you looked at.”

Nigel:
That’s right.

Robbie:
So it’s great to go and have a bit of a look at that, but most people will leave there more frustrated than what they are inspired because they just can’t afford half the shit that’s put in there-

Nigel:
Right. That’s right. And I suppose from my point of view, when you guys are dealing with builders that are supplying you with multiple houses, you tend to get… there’s more leeway to upgrade the appliances and the inclusions and so forth. So at least you’re getting some of that back, you’re not getting that stock standard basic home that you probably would otherwise get if you didn’t deal with someone like yourself-

Robbie:
Yeah, let’s talk about that for a second, actually. I’m really keen on your opinion on that. So for those that don’t know, the majority of builders have a retail brand, which is all about the owner occupies. And the house is almost designed from the ground up and people are picking and choosing their exact appliances to live in their dream home. And then they have another arm of the business. A lot of the times called a completely separate name, build just stock standard spec homes. They’re just investment properties. It’s just got a standard lot of inclusions, cheap and nasty is not the right word. Because I don’t want to-

Nigel:
What’s minimum inclusions-

Robbie:
There you go. That’s the nice way of putting it.

Nigel:
That’s it-

Robbie:
So I told you I’m not really good at feedback or tact-

Jane:
The tenant standard-

Nigel:
And it certainly doesn’t mean it’s cheap and nasty.

Robbie:
Certainly. So it’s a minimum standard of the inclusions-

Nigel:
It’s minimum standard. Yeah.

Robbie:
But the three main builders that we use here in Southeast Queensland, there’s a number of others in Newcastle and down in Melbourne as well. But people know our three goose eggs on the map, I suppose, for where we’re finding properties. I’ve now negotiated with the owners of those building firms. I’m like, “I don’t want your investment arm building our investment properties. These are defense force members. They have done sacrifice and service for the country. They’re highly organized and they’ve got their shit together from a finance perspective, build them owner-occupied properties.” Now from an investment perspective, I’d love to see your feedback nod. You’ve now walked through a couple hundred of them probably over the last 18 months or so. Yeah. What’s your experience noting what you’re seeing as an investment property, they’re not built like a normal investment property-

Nigel:
No, no, they’re not. The inclusions generally have a higher quality. It’s the details as well. It’s how the builder finishes a certain detail time and time again for longevity and quality and just for general appearance.

Jane:
Yeah.

Nigel:
The quality of kitchens, light fittings and things like that.

Robbie:
Pendant lights, wood-look flooring, ducted air conditioning, [crosstalk 00:35:27]

Nigel:
Such a big difference.

Robbie:
Appliances, frameless mirrors.

Nigel:
Yeah. Makes such a big difference-

Erica:
Bathroom toiletry.

Jane:
Yeah, it’s small things, but it’s things that we like to think set our clients’ properties apart from the rest of the market. So you could have multiple properties for rent on the market at the same time. And if a house has got pendant lights, the other one doesn’t, it just sets it apart a little bit. Don’t you think?

Nigel:
I think it’s a house that I could live in myself.

Jane:
Yeah.

Nigel:
That I’d be happy with the inclusions and-

Jane:
Yeah. We have lots of clients that get like they’re the envy. They want to move into their own [crosstalk 00:35:58]

Nigel:
I’m totally not surprised by that-

Jane:
And we’re like, “No, you can’t do that.”

Robbie:
But what do you think if the investment money-making house, you built they’re like, “Oh, I want to move in.”

Nigel:
Yeah, that’s right. [crosstalk 00:36:07]

Jane:
Yeah, I hear that all the time.

Robbie:
And you can’t the tenants got to move in-

Nigel:
Me too. Yeah. I get that all the time.

Erica:
Oh yeah. Often-

Nigel:
I think we’ve heard that when we’ve met out on site together and there’s a client.

Erica:
And I’ve often commented, “Wow, this is a really nice estate. This is a really nice home. I could live here.”

Jane:
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:36:20] that’s a great idea.

Robbie:
Even though from a raw and real perspective, let’s make no bones about it out. We coach our clients that are not building your own home, just the investment properties, “I don’t want you to get too emotionally involved in this house. I want you to love three things about this house. I want you to love the fact that you’re doing something for your financial future, and you’re building a property, which is going to make you money. I want you to love that and your future self will, when they get to your age, if they started in their mid twenties…” fucking life that doesn’t have any issues-

Jane:
Yeah, they’re home and host.

Robbie:
Home and host. “I want you to love the location that you bought in because at the end of the day, the location going up in value, those really nice estates with all the infrastructure and everything.” That you speak of Erica is absolutely paramount. “But I want you to love the fact your tenants have found their new home, your tenants feel like they’re living in a home that’s had care, and diligence and the right level of specifications placed in there without going crazy and putting in 100,000 worth of shit that no one’s ever going to care about.” But I guess that’s the coaching and mentoring that we provide our clients that, if you’re now telling us that it does stand out above and you see it all time after your interactions with the building inspector Jane, no wonder our properties get rented. What do we have about 100 properties come to market last year? And our average from days on market from key handover to a tenant being found throughout COVID was 6.8 days.

Nigel:
Yeah, that’s great.

Robbie:
And all these little things we’re talking about now are ingredients to make that happen.

Jane:
And I certainly see it in the 12th month builders warranty inspections when they come in. And I go, “Oh, the tenant…” It’s a higher caliber of tenant as well.

Nigel:
They really look after the house.

Jane:
But you can tell. The photo at the front, the garden and the way it’s kept-

Nigel:
Yeah.

Jane:
Yeah. We’re careful, obviously not to take photos of clients’ possessions and things inside the house. It’s just the defects. But you can tell that the homes are really being looked after. And that’s really, really important if it’s a long-term investment.

Robbie:
Yeah. If someone can pay 455, 580 bucks a week rent, they know that the lease they’ve signed is a legal agreement. That if they wreck shit, they’re going to be responsible for doing it. That actually they’ve got a bit of pride and character because they obviously got a job and they’re earning the income, which they can have that status in life. And I’m not making judgements on people that can or can’t pay that type of rent. But at the end of the day, what you’re saying is now being reflected in the way that they take care of the house. There’s a range of other little strategies that we put with our clients about, like I said before, it’s easy to be that dickhead building inspector. It’s also easy to be that dickhead landlord. And none of our owners, would you agree, Jane? Are dickhead landlords.

Jane:
Nope.

Robbie:
They care the fact that there’s another human in there, now paying the mortgage for them. They want to show them that they care by doing a couple of little things for them, because at the end of the day, they want that other family to be grateful that they’re living in their home and then they can hold onto it forever. And then it goes up in value and then they’re home and host.

Jane:
And one of the things that Nigel always does too, is ask the tenant, “Is there anything about the home that you would think we need to know about?” Because you’re living in it and it’s about respecting them as the tenant as well. So that often comes through in the report. Tenant identified that the toilet holder was broken-

Nigel:
Yeah. But the fact that they’re not identifying things is a good thing too, because it tells that the products that have been used are long-distance products. And especially things like ceiling fans, and light fittings and toilet roll holders and things like that. If you’d just go up a little bit in the quality and get that better fixing and so forth, the builder’s not going to be coming to back to rectify those items. So for me, I look at it from that point of view, “Yeah. There might be a couple of minor items, but the fact that there’s not is a good thing as well.”

Robbie:
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:39:51] and it just shows that the builder has also done a really good job of building the house-

Erica:
You can also tell when we drive into the estates, the way the properties are kept, the neighborhood, the Parklands are beautiful.

Nigel:
Yeah.

Erica:
It’s a whole living environment.

Nigel:
Definitely.

Robbie:
It would be easily another thousand properties across Southeast Queensland that we could find and flog off quite frankly, to our clients. But the fact that we don’t, we stick to our guns. We only go to the premium estates. If that means we’ve got to wait six months for the next land release, we wait six months because that’s going to give the best outcome for the client.

Nigel:
It’s using those premium builders as tools, really-

Robbie:
Of course, that’s the next step down. So yeah-

Nigel:
Have to be doing that for sure.

Robbie:
I’m so happy that we had this chat today. Is there anything else as we wrap it up? You provided some amazing feedback. You’ve certainly demonstrated your own expertise and your own passion and your own… you guys are living your own best life now. We are so proud to have you as part of the wider Axon family-

Erica:
We are-

Nigel:
Likewise, yeah.

Erica:
I love working with you, guys.

Robbie:
Jane and her team work… literally to speak to both of you every single day. Because it’s almost feel like it’s every week we certainly got a property or two, which is being handed over. So if you’re really busy, sorry but not sorry.

Nigel:
Oh, no, no, we love that.

Robbie:
How are you guys feeling? Yeah.

Erica:
Yeah, well, I really appreciate the proficiency of the Axon team and the communication is always awesome. Nothing’s too much. If we have a problem, we contact Jane or Robbie-

Nigel:
Always resolved really quickly-

Erica:
And things are resolved quickly-

Robbie:
If someone’s ringing me, there’s an issue. That’s very, very rare.

Nigel:
Yeah, yeah.

Erica:
Right. But the partnership is good and we really appreciate that. It’s awesome to work with professionals in this industry, it’s really great.

Nigel:
We keep moving forward, great future. Really for Southeast Queensland.

Erica:
Exciting.

Nigel:
It’s just amazing. What a great place to live and have a property.

Erica:
Yeah.

Nigel:
Really.

Robbie:
Well, I started the business and wanted to call it Axon Property Group, because I guess there’s a group of businesses that we all use ourselves and you guys have now inspected houses of Axon, our employees as well. As you will inspect their house for tomorrow. And only once it finishes being built in about 12 months’ time. So we can’t put any more skin in the game and actually use you guys as part of our own individual portfolios.

Nigel:
Sure.

Robbie:
And certainly you guys are very, very firmly part of the Axon group now and we don’t want you to go anywhere.

Nigel:
Yeah.

Erica:
We appreciate that.

Jane:
Please don’t leave us-

Nigel:
Oh, we won’t be doing that.

Robbie:
Thanks Jane, for joining us. Thank you. Appreciate it.

Nigel:
Thanks Robbie. Thanks very much. [crosstalk 00:42:18]

Erica:
Thank you. Thank you for having us.

Nigel:
Yeah, thanks for having us. It’s been great.

Robbie:
See you next time. Thanks everyone. Bye.

Erica:
Bye.

Robbie:
Hey, thanks for tuning into today’s podcast. If you enjoy listening, make sure you give us a five star rating, hit subscribe, so you’ll be first in line to get it in your inbox every week on a Tuesday. Whilst you’re at it, open up your favorite social media app, be that Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube, and connect with Axon Property Group. This is where you see us every day, sharing the secrets of creating multimillion dollar property portfolios and performing to the highest levels of your life. You’ll get exclusive behind the scenes access to what it really takes to build a life that you love. You’ll also discover how to secure your financial future as an IDF member or veteran. And I assure your future self will love you for it. Thanks again for listening. And that’s a wrap.

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