A chat with Dan the Builder

We’d intended to put up regular progress reports on Andrew and Wendy’s house but, somehow, other things got in the way. We’ll definitely do it; it just won’t be the chronological approach we’d originally planned. Final clean is happening any minute and the family will be moving in within a couple of weeks, and so, before builder Dan Oakley of Cosmic Constructing packs up his tools and heads off for a very well-deserved break, we grabbed him for a quick chat.

Why did you want the job in the first place?

When Donald sent me the tender, he described the job as being right up my alley. I love mid-century architecture, or anything with a bit of character; a lot of people want to knock these houses down or transform them into something they’re not. The fact that Donald wanted to retain and reuse original elements of the house, I thought was very, very smart. As soon as I saw the tender, I was crossing my fingers I’d get it.

What has been the main challenge of the job?

Access – there’s a narrow driveway that branches off to other residences, and certain size vehicles are not allowed in, which means it’s very difficult to get materials in and out of the property. With most deliveries, we’d have to unload them at the street, put them on our truck, drive the truck in and unload them again. We also weren’t allowed to have a skip, and so had to get a smaller sized tipper truck, hand load everything onto that and take it to the tip. We have had to be very respectful of being in a reserve – with its plants and trees, it’s a beautiful area, and council landscapers are working here constantly. We have had to manage who was coming in and out of the property to make sure they were doing it with as much care as we were.

I’m really happy with the end result, and seeing the clients and Donald as happy as I am makes me feel I’ve done a good job.

What are you most proud of with this job?

The fact that you can’t tell what’s old and what’s new. We used beautiful materials and reused some of the old ones, and it all flows really well. It was great to work that way, and is not something that you can really imagine on paper. When we were there, it would be ‘Let’s chop this up, let’s put that there, let’s try that.’ We reused a lot of the old windows, cutting them down and rebuilding them to reinstall somewhere else entirely. It was really good to see it all come together.

How has it been working with Donald?

We’ve worked together since about 2013, and have had a great relationship from the beginning. We’re good at solving problems together, and always talk things through.

How about with Wendy and Andrew?

They’re the dream clients – it’s been the dream build really. The relationship I have with clients is paramount to the build – communication is everything. There have been no hiccoughs on this job, no disputes – as with Donald, we’ve worked well with the client through every situation we’ve come across.

How do you feel about the job now it’s almost finished?

I can’t wait for it to be finished, but I’ll be sad at the same time. You spend eight or nine months on jobs like this, and all of a sudden, they come to an end. It’s been a pleasure to be there every day, overlooking the water and tucked away in the trees – it’s made it a great 2017.
I’m really happy with the end result, and seeing the clients and Donald as happy as I am makes me feel I’ve done a good job.