Building delays not our fault, say firm

MARTIN VAN BEYNEN
Last updated 06:00 02/08/2014
Williams and Co

ON SITE: Williams and Co marketing manager, Marcus Shaw, left, project manager Glen McConnell and director Ashton Williams.

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A Christchurch building company promising to get buyers into their new homes "faster" says delays and disappointments experienced by clients are mainly not of its making.

Williams & Co, a young, high-profile company whose staff drive new VW Amaroks, advertises its land and building packages as guaranteed to get buyers into their "brand new Williams & Co home faster".

However, The Press has learnt of cases in which the company's promised schedule has been exceeded by six months or more, a situation exacerbated by allegedly poor communication.

One client signed up in July last year and is expecting completion by October after being promised a five-month turnaround. Another also paid a deposit in July last year but cancelled their contract after not even a building consent had been obtained by April.

Yet another client signed up in February for a six-month completion date but the prospects of completion even by the end of this year are looking bleak.

One buyer, who asked not to be named, told The Press he had "the worst experience" with Williams & Co although some progress was now being made. Another, who also sought anonymity, said they had trouble "talking to anybody" in the company after the delays.

This week marketing manager Marcus Shaw told The Press he believed the company was living up to its advertising and new clients were now "advised to allow 12 months from sign-up to practical completion".

Williams & Co was in a good financial position, he said, with the past financial year showing a profit and a "healthy" balance sheet. An independent guarantee ensures the return of deposits or the completion of builds if the company folds.

In written answers to questions from The Press, Shaw said growth had required some staff changes as well as more staff in "key departments".

He cited "external factors" causing problems, including:

Christchurch City Council's consenting process. Long turnaround times for outsourced soil reports and engineering plans. Late provision of title by a developer.

"One of the biggest factors . . . was the result of a large number of orders for building materials not being actioned by a major wholesaler.

"This resulted in a significant logistical challenge for Williams & Co as we were forced to source building materials and reach new agreed terms with alternative suppliers," Shaw said.

Wet weather in March and April had compounded delays.

He said the company had doubled the size of its design team and added a building consents officer.

Most of its construction work was completed by subcontractors, he said, but Williams & Co had now formed its own excavation, roofing and guttering teams. It had also employed some builders.

The company was trialling software to improve co-ordination and communication.

Williams & Co Ltd was registered on March 25, 2011, with Ashton Wesley Williams its sole director.

He set up another company called Williams and Co Holdings in February 2014.

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