Designing his own future expansion nationwide

Archidraft principal designer Joshua Newlove
Archidraft principal designer Joshua Newlove

He's wanted to be an architect from a young age. Business reporter Emma Bailey asks Joshua Newlove about setting up his own draughting business in busy post-earthquake times.

How did Archidraft come about?

From about the age of 10 or 12 I was being quizzed by my mum and her friends about what I wanted to be when I was older. My answer was drawing houses although I didn't really know at that stage what it involved. In 2004 I decided to apply to the Otago Polytechnic architectural draughting course. I got in and within my first year a Timaru draughting company offered me some contracting work. At that stage I didn't think I had enough knowledge to be any good so held off until my final year, then set up a company and started being a contract draughter. Archidraft was born and I haven't looked back since.

What sort of work do you do?

In a nutshell we do residential and commercial design and draughting. But what we really do is we take clients' ideas of what they want to live in and put it on paper.

Normally I sit down with a client and they tell me what they are looking for and how they want their house to look. Sometimes they have sketches already prepared, which is great. When presenting a concept for a new house, I try to provide two options. Firstly I present to them what they had sketched up, then I present them with something different based on what they were talking about.

What have been some interesting projects you have worked on?

When I was just contracting I worked on some pretty decent projects, from car sales yard fit-outs to hotel renovations, which were pretty good projects to work on when I was fresh from studying. More recently, I have some commercial work on the books which I am really enjoying. I think every project is pretty interesting in its own way.

What sort of training do you have?

I studied at Otago Polytechnic, doing a diploma in architectural draughting. Dunedin was a great place to study. I didn't go straight from high school to studying so it gave me a greater appreciation for what I was doing.

Where else have you worked previously?

Prior to studying, I worked a range of jobs. I spent time straight out of high school, building on the West Coast with my father. This gave me a good insight into the building industry, it was hard work but enjoyable. In my first year studying I also worked as a forecourt attendant. That was one of the worst jobs I have ever had. Luckily in my second and third year I worked, I got a job at a liquor store in Dunedin. Having that range of work experience made me sure that architecture was the best career for me.

What are the toughest aspects of your business?

Generally, it's tough running a small business. People tend to think it's easy and you're the boss so you can just relax, when in fact it's the complete opposite. I try not to work too many hours so I have time with the family, but that's tough when you always have deadlines to meet and clients that are counting on you to deliver.

What have been the challenges?

The past 18 months have been a pretty big challenge after the Canterbury earthquakes. There has been more work out there in the building industry. The business has grown from just me working from home, to having two offices, Timaru and Wellington.

That's been hard going, so hopefully the next 12 months will be a bit of a settling period which will be nice.

What have been the highlights?

What is a challenge is also a highlight. Having a growing business and employing people has been great. It's the staff members here that make the company what it is and I have been lucky to find great people.

Another has been planning our own home.

How many staff do you employ?

Five fulltime draught people and we currently have two students working with us over the summer. Next year we are going to have a fulltime office manager in place to take some of that work off my hands as I would really prefer to spend my time designing rather than doing book work.

Where to from here?

A year of consolidating the business and then hopefully we can continue growing. My ultimate goal is to have a network of offices at least all over the South Island.

The Timaru Herald