The FMB London Board were delighted to add four new members at April’s AGM. They were Kulveer Singh-Sanghera from City Lofts Londonwide Limited, George Fixsen from Greene Construction Ltd, Valter Da Silva from Happy Building London Ltd and Seán McAlister of Pencil and Brick Ltd. FMB London Director Sam Eden, caught up with them this month to ask them a few questions about being a member and the wider industry.
Q1: What kind of work does your company do?
George - We carry out High end residential new build and renovation projects across London.
Valter - The two main services are architecture and construction. To give you an idea of the size, we make around 200 planning applications per year and build between 35 and 50 construction projects. We also offer interior design and bespoke joinery as we have our own workshop.
Kulveer - Residential construction work from loft conversions and extensions to larger scale new builds.
Seán - Design and Build domestic extension, basements, lofts, renovations across London, with starting budgets above £150k inc VAT. Coming from an architecture background myself, I have our company specialise in challenging planning and regulation situations, with a dedicated architect team inhouse, and we tend to build only what we design to offer maximum efficiency to customers.
Q2: What encouraged you to join the Federation of Master Builders London Board?
George - It’s a great source of support and tools to run your business. It’s also just a great badge to have as an accreditation.
Valter - I admire the work that the Federation is trying to do, hence becoming a member almost as soon as I open for business. I now feel that I am in a position where I can start contributing and help make a difference in the UK's Construction landscape.
Kulveer - To be part of a group with members whose values echoes that of ours.
Seán - I have a mission to completely transform London FMBs builders' reputations in the public eye, such that we're known by everyone as the essential standard, the minimum trustworthiness for customers to consider, the cream of the crop, with integrity to rival that of architects and lawyers. Being on the London Board gives this mission a fighting chance, to pitch this transformation to the members, to the public and to the government. I believe the FMB has the future of the entire building industry in it's hands.
Q3: What do you foresee to be the key challenges our sector faces in the years to come?
George - I think we are on the brink of a recession which will see a further shortage of labour and materials. I also think that regulations are becoming unachievable. The idea of becoming more carbon neutral is fine but we need to have support on this to make it viable.
Valter - Specialised labour will most likely continue to be one of the biggest challenges. With that, I also think construction standards will drop, similar to what is already happening in our sectors due to qualified labour. In two words - Labour and Quality.
Kulveer - The cost-of-living crisis paired with labour shortages and material price rises. The effect of this on our future client’s ability to be able to make upgrades to their properties to move towards more sustainable living.
Seán - For builders generally, it's adaptability with the economic flux, and how that relates to the minutia in building contracts and business affairs. For the FMB specifically, the biggest risk is stagnation, and falling behind, both in terms of the times, technology, and in what it can provide members, compared to similar organisations in other sectors.
Q4: What constructive advice would you give someone starting out in the construction industry?
George – Take time to learn and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Ask questions and pay professionals. The hardest thing I struggle with is not making business personal. There are always going to be things that are out of your control. Thats fine. It’s how you deal with them that counts.
Valter – It is an industry full of opportunities. I would suggest for someone starting to choose an area of the industry that they feel attracted to and specialised in that, try to be the best at a specific thing. At least to start with, once strong and able, then they could branch out to other specialities. This focus has the potential to increase the quality and margins. Also, easier to recruit and manage.
Kulveer - The rewards may not be instant but they will come if you have a passion for the industry and produce work you can be proud of.
In addition, the moment you branch out on your own you are no longer a tradesman you are a small business. Learning the skills to manage your business is as important if not more than the work you produce.
Seán - To builders with a business mind I say, take calculated risks, frequently and fail as often as you dare. And learn from it. Operate in everything you do, say and write as if it were being judged by the supreme court.
Are you interested in joining the FMB London Board?
If you would like to know more about becoming a Board member then please get in touch with Sam.