Episode 6 – Graham Byrne
A Builders Experience On Room To Improve
Room to Improve, hear from the builder that built Dermot Bannon’s house.
In this weeks episode of the LiveCosts Construction Experience, we have Graham Byrne in studio, who discusses his experience on Room to Improve as well as his experience in running a construction business. Graham is the co-owner of Cascade Group.
Podcast best bits
What will a builder sacrifice to do Room to Improve?
Graham – “We’ve had the chance to do Room to Improve and we’ve been offered one or two of them, but just couldn’t meet the prices.”
Ciaran – “Yeah. I suppose that some people would always be keen to know. Do you have to give up a bit of margin for the access you’re getting to?”
Graham – “Yes”
Ciaran – “You have to give up a little bit of margin-”
Graham – “You do.”
Ciaran – “… for the sake of the exposure you’re getting on the show?”
Graham – “Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Not much now in the grand scheme of things. I would say, overall, we gave up close to 2%. It’s enough when you think about it. People think you’re making a fortune when you’re a builder. It’s just not the case. There’s so many variables, so many things that can go wrong.”
Ciaran – “Yeah.”
Graham – “2% would be a big stake, but overall, to get a job, get the exposure, and at the end of the day, probably no one else is going to ever get the chance to say, “We’re the ones who did Dermot Bannon’s house.”
Ciaran – “Yeah. Exactly. I mean, for the space you play in, that sort of high end, residential little space, there probably not a better flagship project that you can attach yourself to than that project. That will probably go on for years to come.”
Employ direct or sub out?
Ciaran – “You have an interesting structure that get you these jobs that I would call a more traditional structure to a business, being you get the trades close to you. What was your thinking around that? Why? And I what I mean for people that don’t know is that you have everything under this cascade group, be it electrical, paint. What’s your thinking behind that? Why go for that structure of a company?”
Graham – “I suppose it goes back to the first question of how we built the company, and we built it with a level of professionalism that we wanted to achieve. We didn’t want to have that cowboy status or whatever they generally think of a builder. It’s not all good, but we wanted to try and keep control of the standards. We wanted to keep projects coming in on time and above all else I suppose the after sales, if you’ve got a subcontractor in and he’s busy and there’s a problem, and like every job there’s hidden problems with everything. You can say that at the beginning of every job, all the way through until the end to manage the expectations because there’s always something. So if someone has a smaller leak or even a major leak or a power outage or something like that, you want to be able to get somebody to them as quickly as possible.”
“And if you’ve got a subcontractor, that’s not always easy to do because they’ve got their own commitments, they have their own business to run, and sometimes you might be in second or third place. So the biggest thing was to have control over that and to have good after sales, keep us on track throughout the job, be able to hit our own targets. So basically if we need a contractor in or a particular trade in on a certain date, we know we can hit it with our own staff. Whereas if you’ve got a subcontractor, you’re more than likely going to be let down because they’re trying to stretch themselves.”