I’ve been with Bellevarde for almost 11 years. In my twenties, I studied at RMIT and earned a double diploma in building and construction, and building surveying.
The building and construction diploma essentially prepared us to be builders—we learned about workshop drawings, costings, structure, materials, and everything that goes into a successful project. The diploma in building surveying taught us to understand the codes and standards such as how to ensure the stairs comply, what type of building needs what type of fire safety, and all the other aspects of the Building Code of Australia. It was a great course that pointed you to become a building surveyor or a builder. I chose to be a builder. At the end of the course, I did a carpentry apprenticeship and worked for a residential building firm in Melbourne for a few years. I followed that up with bits and pieces of work for bricklayers and carpenters, gaining valuable experience with a whole lot of different people. I’m originally from Sydney and my wife is from Adelaide. We couldn’t decide which city to live in so we compromised on Melbourne. When our first child was born, we moved to Sydney to get some babysitting help from the grandparents. My first job in Sydney was working on The Beresford Hotel. Unfortunately, that builder hit financial difficulties during the global financial crisis. A friend suggested I try Bellevarde so I had a look at their website and was very impressed. I contacted John Fielding and he offered me a position. Bellevarde’s Adam Howe was building a house for Roy Sussman in Coogee and I started work there as a contracts administrator (CA). When that was completed, Adam and I did another job in Coogee. I learned a tremendous amount from Adam on those two sites. As a CA, you take care of all the contractual particulars. I enjoy doing that job and I’m good at it. For a while, I even became operations manager at Bellevarde. I was based in the Sydney office training the other CAs, but I had ambitions to be a site manager so I did everything I could to encourage John to see me that way. The next big project I worked on was Deepwater with Daniele Feltracco. It was fantastic working with him. The thing about being a CA that wants to be a site manager is, if you’re paying attention, you learn how different site managers put their buildings together. Over my first six years at Bellevarde, I got to work with Adam Howe, Daniele Feltracco, Ben Lea, and others. Working alongside those guys, with all their combined years of experience, taught me what it would take to be a good site manager. They were very strong mentors and I still regularly go to them for advice. Deepwater was an amazing project. At the end, I remember turning to Daniele and saying words to the effect that we may not ever get to do another job at the scale of this place. I was wrong. My very next job was one of Bellevarde’s largest ever. House Taurus was my first project as a site manager and a massive, life-changing undertaking. It was nearly three years of long days and hard work. I’m proud and relieved that it turned out so well. The client and architect are happy with the result and I’m grateful to John for giving me the opportunity. Even though building House Taurus was a huge achievement and an incredible project, I still see myself near the beginning of my journey. I’m refining my capabilities and probably need to complete at least four or five more buildings in my own name before I can call myself an accomplished Bellevarde site manager—mainly because building a Bellevarde house is different to building normal houses. When the Bellevarde management team started, I became a shareholder and, for the last year and a half, have also been a director of the business, which has opened my eyes more to the overall running of the company. I really enjoy being a part of that. The other builders I’ve worked for tended to be businesspeople first and builders second. John is a builder above all else. Of course, he keeps an eye on budget, but primarily he’s focused on the details of the build. I’d never before had a boss who would come and put a spirit level on everything and run an eye over things and quiz you about what type of materials are being used and whether you should be using them that way. John is incredibly dedicated to the art of building and I think his focus on detail is what makes Bellevarde so well respected. What I like most about working for John and Bellevarde is that it’s about the buildings and that’s how it should be.