Ben Lea

Site Manager, Director

I always had an interest in building. As a kid, our family became good friends with the guys who built our house and they inspired me to become a carpenter when I finished school.

I’d been working in London and when it was time to come home I was introduced to John Fielding by a friend who had worked with him in the mountains. My first job for Bellevarde was in Potts Point under Daniele Feltracco. It was an amazing build and it introduced me to the fine art of doing things the Bellevarde way—no compromises. My next project was another incredible Bellevarde job at Whale Beach.

It’s like that with Bellevarde, there’s always something exciting going on. From Whale Beach, I went on to a job in Avalon, this time as a leading hand and joint foreman. When the site manager from another project went overseas I stepped in as caretaker. I have done that several times at Bellevarde over the years. There’s a great team spirit and people help out wherever and whenever they can. It helps that everyone is flexible and easy going enough to get the job done to high standards under any circumstances.

John knew I wanted my own project and after a few successful jobs, I was given responsibility for a warehouse conversion in Paddington where we stripped the place bare, added a small extension and also a pool. The next year it was a refurbishment in Tamarama, the year after that an apartment in Bondi. It’s been a great ride and it doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon.

The challenge in working at a job like this is that every day is different. You’re fitting a bespoke design to a specific site. I just love the challenge of being able to come up with details that are functional and look so good you don’t even notice them. Being at the interface between architect and client and getting their desired architectural outcome is demanding and very satisfying.

Having access to team members with vast experience makes Bellevarde pretty easy to work for. Friendly competition keeps you on your toes and the other builders can always help you find the right solution to any problem. There’s a spirit of collaboration and that means the younger guys get a great sense of teamwork. It’s something they can strive for, a culture. As you progress, you are given more responsibility and I really appreciate that. Of course this camaraderie extends to the architects and clients too. It’s one of the things that sets Bellevarde apart.

Like the guys who built my childhood home, I’ve become friends with lots of our clients. People respond to the care and attention we put into the work. It’s been over a dozen incredible years and I’m sure to be with Bellevarde for many more.