International consultants, differing perspectives

Teaching tents, 2011

After the earthquakes, our construction market was upscaling at super speed. People were coming in from other countries at all levels, bringing with them ways of operating which could be different to New Zealand expectations, and different to each other. Assumptions made on all sides created friction. 

Understanding the how the local construction market ticks is important to project success, so we recommend providing a cultural induction to the New Zealand operating environment for overseas recruits and consultants. 

One area where we needed specialist input that couldn’t be found in New Zealand was laboratory design. Our Australian consultants worked to the industry standards for their country in terms of the level of design detail specified, but this was less than would be expected by a New Zealand contractor, particularly in such a highly technical context. The consultants had tendered in good faith based on their understanding of the input required, but there was a mismatch between their way of operating and local expectations, and our lead local contractor had to fill the gap. 

International design consultants may also be unfamiliar with the local market and so recommend suppliers they know. Ensure that Project Managers scrutinise supply decisions to ensure the most cost-effective and timely solutions are obtained, for building fit out as well as construction.