If you're renovating, how's life at your place? Are you listening to the radio, perched on a milk crate over a makeshift kitchen bench and using a camp stove to make a cup of tea? Many of us have been there! Are you waiting for your home renos to finish or, more accurately, I should say to restart because indoor home renovations are still banned under the COVID rules. The good news is that they were meant to restart at 80% fully vaccinated. The word is that they are going to get going again. When we hit that 70% threshold. Neil Gardiner is a Director of a Melbourne home renovations company called Supa Group Constructions. Neil Gardner good morning.

Hi, how are you?

I'm very well thank you, more to the point, how are you? Are you revving yourselves up for a restart. 

We are certainly trying to crank the engine up early for sure and get things moving. It's not something we can just do automatically. There's a lot of planning and coordination that needs to happen before we can go back into those sites.

Have you been given official advice that you will be able to start at 70%? I know that Master Builders Victoria are calling for that to happen? And there are reports that it will happen. Have you got any confirmation?

We rely heavily on what Master Builders Victoria tell us, they've been consulting closely with the government and, at this stage, we don't have any formal indication that it will be before the 80% vaccination target, but you know we're certainly hopeful that the advocacy that they've been doing will come through because it means a lot to us. It means a lot to our staff, clients, and trades. 

How many jobs have you got on pause at the moment?

Well, in total, we've got about 28 sites that we're operating on and 16 of those are unoccupied. So, you do the maths, we've got roughly 60% that are occupied, so that's quite a chunk out of our business. 

It's a chunk out of your business. It's also, I guess, a number of families who are being disrupted. What are they doing?

Yeah, absolutely. I feel for them and look, they're all at various stages of their renovations as well. We try to ensure that they're not exposed to the weather, so most of our sites are at least locked up because you can't really afford to go with the night like we had last night, you know, the potential for water ingress, while you're doing it. It's a very sensitive time during the build, but certainly, we've got clients that have been like this for quite some time. Look, I couldn't even tell you how long it is, but you know over 3 months, where they've literally been living in a building site.

And most of your workers are fully vaccinated?

Yeah absolutely, everybody on-site and, look, this has been the other thing, we've been constantly playing a game of catch-up. Little bit like 'Simon says rules'. You know, we try to comply with everything that we've been directed from the government. The Chief Health Officer and the rules have just been changing constantly. And, you know, that has taken huge resources out of our business because, one of the things about the building industry when it comes to home renovations, is that many of those renovation companies are not big builders. They're not what you see in the big commercial sites, they’re often family-owned. We are a family business. We employ 15 people and it's been tricky to say the least.

Well, I wish you all the best with your plans to get back, and hopefully it will be sooner rather than later. Once you do get back up and running, Neil, how are you going about finding what you need to do your job because there's been so many reports about, you know, not be able to find timber, not be able to find steel, not being able to find all the sorts of things you need if you're renovating?

Well look, we've been extremely fortunate with our suppliers. Planning has been everything. We’ve got well ahead of what we normally would order. We are actually ordering windows now because there are delays. We understand the reasons for the delays, and our suppliers have been excellent. Cost is an issue. It is sort of 30% more than it might have been two years ago. There are price wars on materials. All the time. We operate as a business on a fixed price model, so it doesn't affect our clients but it's certainly squeezing our margins.

Well, Neil Gardiner, as I said, we wish you well, good luck.

I appreciate that and thanks very much.