A new building system to cut stress and time – Dean Willemsen

The process of building a home can have its challenges but those days could be over. Dean Willemsen heads heading up a group of some the most respected companies in the property and housing industry to launch a new model of housing.  He tells us about Heuga.
Kevin:   It’s well known that the process of building a home can have its challenge. Whether it be cost overruns, average customer service or lack of transparency, poor quality building or unexpected surprises. Well those days could be over. A group of some the most respected companies in the property and housing industry have joined together, and launched a new model of housing, which is called Heuga.
Kevin:   Dean Willemsen is the managing director of DNW group, who’s heading up this initiative. He says that Heuga may just shake up the housing market in Australia. He joins me, Dean thanks so much for your time.
Dean:   Great, thank you so much for having me.
Kevin:   Tell me. Firstly we hear some very sad stories about what some people go through when they build a property. We hear about the commissions around Australia and how they don’t protect builders, they don’t protect tradies, or the consumer. So where does the building of a new home go so wrong Dean? Why do we hear so many bad stories?
Dean:   Look, there’s many contributing factors and I can’t pretend to have all the answers, but to my experience has been that there’s so many contributing factors, and so many elements that go into building a house, there’s a lot of room for error. Some of them potentially in our control, and a lot of them aren’t within our control, for example, weather. We can take a simple glance over to other industry, the automotive industry, which has definitely worked out a way to take a lot of those variables out of the process and really leave, the customer with a very seamless process and there’s no secret that really we look at our business in Heugar we have looked at that and sort of tried to take some lessons accordingly.
Kevin:   One of the problems I think with home building, is that each home is almost unique, even though there may be definitive plans, everyone wants to make their changes. Weather does have a huge impact as you said. As I understand it with Heuga. Well, I’ll get you to explain what it is, but it’s a much more controlled environment, the construction, is that right?
Dean:   Yes, look we ultimately as a customer, and as we all are, we all want to have a choice and we got to put out, make sure what we are trading, it feels like it is ours. However, there are a lot of, there are inherently a lot of consistency or similarity between houses and unfortunately, typically there isn’t much to be able to make that consistent. So for example through the Heuga system, we aim to have a tech platform that ultimately drives the whole process, so it is not about builders trying to work out ultimately solving the same problem twice. The platform itself drives the process a lot more seamlessly and takes that variance out of the process.
Kevin:   Okay, well lets talk about technology, because from what I’ve seen and I’ve watched a couple of videos and had a look into the system, there is a fair amount of technology that has gone into this. It has been developed over a number of years. Can we look a little bit closer at the technology and how is it going to impact the consumer?
Dean:   Look, the technology is a part of it but I think for us this smarts is in how we collaborate with our partners and really take a different view. I mean the industry typically is very closed door where, where ever do you sit in the chain and everyone has this perspective of working behind closed doors which unfortunately impacts their own ability to be efficient and also what the customer gets at the end. So our approach is having an open API approach where all the partners that we work with were open about our processes and how we all plug into the Heuga system or the Heuga operating system as we call it. And ultimately it means that the ambiguities and the inconsistencies are quickly ironed out and we are left with the process as is it should be without the waste and interruptions along the way.
Kevin:   Given the fact that a Heuga home can be constructed, as I understand it, correct me if I am wrong in around about 15 odd days. Is that correct firstly?
Dean:   Yes, so the 15 days is from slab to a fully completed and locked up house. That includes all external finishes as well. So your render, paint, your windows, your roof, your gutter, facia. The whole external of the house is complete. Call it your shell.
Kevin:   So would it be unfair to call it like, is it a kit format?
Dean:   No, not at all. No, it is absolutely, it’s not even the houses that your project home builders will typically build. We’re designing it and delivering it in a far sort of ,more of a technology enabled way which enables the consistency and the more tightly coordination of trades and moving away from an on sight construction to a more off sight construction methodology. Where we can control a lot of the value that we add to the product is done in a controlled environment. Which is agnostic to weather conditions, agnostic to availability to trade because ultimately we have a different kind of work force that is able to build houses essentially.
Kevin:   You touched there on the car industry, how they’re so successful at how they manufacture vehicles and I guess this in a way this is a similar thing although it has to be delivered on site. To do what you’ve done, have you been able to identify the pain points for the consumer and then isolate those and almost eliminate them and is that basically in the construction stage?
Dean:   Look, the pain points, in a way yes, I mean we are at early stages of the business. We can’t say that we’ve got it nailed as yet but identifying the pain points. Unfortunately, you ask a room of home owners “Did you enjoy your experience“, unfortunately not many put their hand up and that’s not necessarily anyone’s fault, it is just inherently how the industry currently deals with the process. So for us the process starts far beyond, far before you start on site. It is a design process, it’s having designs that are sympathetic to an off site construction methodology of which there’s plenty of flexibility and really there is no distance to our customers, it is just the smarts upfront that enables to deliver a seamless experience at the end.
Kevin:   Sounds like a fantastic idea. You mentioned the company is very young. When will this product be available and how widely will it be available?
Dean:   Look, we are in trial stage. We had a very successful launch on Thursday, the 29th of November and we’re really exited to see us moving to some more projects over the next 12 months and really 2020 is we see our product coming readily available on the market. We will be focusing on the East Coast of Australia in the first instance, starting in Sydney but, ultimately we believe that our system will be well enjoyed by customers across the country and hopefully beyond.
Kevin:   So, did you say 2020 it be available or is it available 2019?
Dean:   2020.
Kevin:   2020? Okay so anyone interested or thinking about doing this, I imagine there is a website for them to go to?
Dean:   Absolutely, yeah we are at heuga.com.au and you can register your interest. We’ve had quite a lot of interest already. It wasn’t what we expected, so we are taking places at the moment and we’ll look to communicate with our customers and continue to move forward from there.
Kevin:   Dean, great talking to you mate. Thank you, all the best for the product, we look forward to watching it grow it’s called Heuga. HEUGA.COM.AU
Kevin:   Dean, thanks for your time.
Dean:   Great, thanks so much. Thanks for having me.
Dean:   Cheers.

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