In this session of PLE partners, we talked to Ian Gray of Actis Projects. We really gel well with his team of young, talented individuals. Ian brings fresh ideas, innovation and an enthusiasm for every project that is unique in the industry.
About Activs Projects
Actis Projects is a full-service Vancouver-based construction company. They provide a wide array of construction services including home renovations and additions, home building, condo and strata renovations, commercial projects, and remote access work. With a diverse range of experience and a reputation for timely, clear communication, Actis consistently delivers the best possible product.
How did you get started in general contracting?
Ian: I walked across the alley from my home for a summer job and joined a crew working on a house. That’s how I started. It was a summer job and then part time during university. I found myself keep going back to it, gained experience and skills. I was one of the guys on site who would try and find solutions instead of just throwing their hands in the air and be like, “I can’t do this.”
I then worked my way up because it was more money and more fun. And then eventually I hit the top of the ladder and then you say; “what’s beyond the ladder and you’re like, well, I build my own ladder. I’m going to start my own company.” That’s kind of how it happened.
What do you like best about your job?
Ian: I like working with a great team of people to actually produce something cool and it is something people get to use for 30 plus years, whether it’s a house or something commercial.
I like bringing a plan to fruition, navigating the ups and downs of any construction job, leading the clients through that. I’ve been through it all. I make the journey as enjoyable as possible and the design aspect is really cool.
I also like the management side, coupled with the hands-on construction part. There’s a lot of planning that goes into construction, such as spreadsheets, plans, coordination, but then the result of that are very tangible. You get to see the fruits of your labour.
What is your biggest challenge on the job?
Ian: I’d say the biggest challenge is just being clear on what everyone’s expectations are, whether that’s finding out exactly what the client’s looking for or what their priorities are. If I’m really clear on what their priorities are then I can design and plan something really well.
If their ideas are less clear, then it becomes more difficult. We make every effort to make communication as clear as possible. I think we do a decent job, but I’d say if we know what people expect and what the subtrades need then that’s like 80% of it.
What is one thing that people don’t generally know about your trait?
Ian: We are the centrepiece in the wheel that brings the house together. We need to know quite a bit about every single subtrade.
Although we are not plumbers, we need to know 70% of what plumbers do, electricians, roofers etc. The trades bring professional opinions and their expertise, but we need to have a pretty good handle on their skills and be aware of their scopes.
We need to frame things with their jobs in mind. We need to know what they are talking about so we can plan and build accordingly.
What’s your favourite project that you worked on?
Ian: The list is so long. I would say one of my favourite projects would be this four-unit heritage home I did in Kitsilano. It was an earlier project I have done and it was a pretty large, lifted house. We moved it seven feet and laid new foundations and all heritage elements had to be intact. That was kind of early on in my career too so it was pretty formative as far as like: ‘Hey, can we do this?’ And then we discovered yes. So that was really exciting. I drive by it frequently and it still looks good. It’s holding up great. The people are taking care of it. There are a lot of cool things we’ve done. That was one that probably sticks out right now as one of my favourite ones.
But you know, we’ve done lots of the first high-performance homes too.
I’ve also done some remote access jobs which are pretty cool too. We had the guys over on Keats Island. That was the coolest day I’ve ever had in construction. It was the day that we helicopter-installed a bunkhouse onto some foundations down a crazy slope. That was very exciting and awesome.
That brings slightly different construction challenges because you’re running into what makes financial sense which starts to change as the cost of people being there increases so that you focus more on large material deliveries which necessitate more planning. Coordination becomes super important because you can’t just go to the supplier for something so it just presents a few other challenges. It’s not something everyone has the appetite for so some of those jobs could be pretty cool as well.
What do you like best about working with PLE?
Ian: One of my favourite things is just the communication. I’ve always got four or five jobs going on at the same time and they’re all at different phases and I’m all over the place. I’m getting new jobs, running jobs, and their communication is great. They let me know, basically every day, what the status is, where they’re at, and what they need for me to continue to do their job well.
It’s always very clear, concise communication. My other favourite thing is quality, great value, and trusted people as well. I like have no equivocations leaving them completely alone on a job site. Even members of the crew, even those who I haven’t met yet, or are meeting for the first time, are great.
We can chat about the job real quick and then I know it’s going to be taken care of. With some other painting crews maybe the salesman communicates well but the people actually on the job don’t, and that can create issues and headaches that I just don’t have time for.
How does PLE make your job easier?
Ian: They make my job easier by quoting accurately as well, not giving the best-case scenario price but giving me the price that is not going to change. That helps a lot.
When they say they’re going to be there, they’re going to be there. That makes a big difference as well. The professionalism of their crew speaks a lot to the types of people that we work with and our other trades and just gives everyone peace of mind.
And if everyone is at ease, than I am at ease because one of my primary jobs is to make sure that the trades are comfortable with the whole situation.
Experience is key. As you’re working on someone’s house and, depending what you’re doing, it could be a significant expenditure for the client and probably the biggest one of their lives. And if one of the trades has never done a large construction job before, it can be problematic. I need to feel comfortable with the people working on the client’s house. That is super important. PLE brings the experience to every sing job so I don’t have to worry.
In this blog post, we want to give Vancouver homeowners some painting tips on how they can have a great experience with a painting company so the interior of their house looks amazing.
Every home needs to be painted, inside and out, (almost) without exception, every 5-15 years. As such, there is a high probability you will have the inside of your home (house, townhouse, condo) painted sometime soon.
We know that having the interior of your home painted can be daunting and stressful. It is your space, your stuff, and having a big disruption with people you don’t know or trust and who don’t have a solid plan can be a nightmare. Trust us, it doesn’t have to be that way!
PLE would like to help you by outlining some tips that we will take to help make your next interior painting experience a great one:
1)Have a plan and execute the plan. We will help develop a plan that works around YOUR LIFE. We split the job up into different areas, phases/stages, to minimize the impact. We generally work with smaller crews of 2-3 painters, so we don’t want or need to paint everything at once. We will make a plan to move through the space strategically, so you can help prepare areas when they are needed, and keep the rest of your space functioning normally through more of the project.
2)Reduce Costs. There are things you can do to reduce costs, improve efficiency and help the job run even more smoothly. These can be removing electrical and light switch cover plates; removing blinds and window coverings; removing items off walls, shelving and other furniture items; storing away your breakables; unplugging electronics. If you are willing to do some prep work beforehand, it saves costs and ensures our painters can focus on what we do best — painting. However, If you don’t want to do any of that, we are happy to do it all as well!
3)Choosing the right paint for your job is critical. There are so many options out there, it’s hard to know what the best paint is for your home. We research and test all the new paint technology, so we are on the cutting edge of this very technical industry. We also have long standing relationships with the top manufacturers in the industry so we get the best possible pricing on the best possible products. This ensures we will get you the perfect paint for your home, at the best price. Top-quality paint may give you double the life span with a slight cost increase of maybe 10-15%. Talk about great ROI!!!
4)Choosing the right colours. You may know what you want but if you don’t, there are people that can help. We know the colours that the top designers are using this season. Our paint suppliers are also very helpful and we can connect you with them. If you want a bit more assistance, we work with great designers that do colour consultations to make sure your colour selections are a perfect match for your taste and your home. No matter what, we will help make sure you are getting the right colours
5)Retro elements of your home can be updated. Did you know you can paint tiles, bricks, mantles, fireplaces and lots of other items in your home that may look old and dated? If you have some of these in your home, ask us if we can modernize them for you. Paint is great like that!
6)Timing Is Critical. Keep your home looking great, by painting when the time is right. When left too long, paint will begin to look shabby, dated and may even start failing. We can help you determine when the best time to repaint is, to keep your house looking fresh all the time!
We hope you found these tips useful. PLE is constantly raising the bar for client satisfaction by being Vancouver’s best painting company.
If you are wondering if it is time to paint, or if you know it is, reach out to PLE to put together a plan.
PLE’s Partnerships Part 1 – Cameron Burr of Burr Electric
In the very first episode of PLE’s Partnership series, we interview Cameron Burr of Burr Electric. PLE and Burr electric are long-standing partners and have worked on many different projects together and we are thrilled to feature him!
About Burr Electric:
Burr Electric specializes in residential and commercial installations – new construction and renovation services. They promise their clients exceptional value through a high standard of workmanship and superior service quality at a competitive price.
How did you first start as an electrician?
Cameron: When I initially got into electrical, I was always interested in construction and right out of high school I always worked for a company and I was doing more labour work for them. I was there as a framer on the job at the time. And the foreman said you need to make sure you get a trade and get your ticket in something. I took that and I was lucky enough that at the time, I had a girlfriend who was building a laneway house and I brought it up to the contractor.
One of his best friends was an electrical contractor and so I ended up meeting with him and I basically worked for him for nine years. And after that, I finished my whole ticket through BCIT and then moved on from that company to another company and then eventually to working for myself.
What Do You Like Best About Your Job?
Cameron: I love the interaction with people. I love dealing with the clients and showing them the whole project from start to finish. You get to see the rough beginning stage, but you also see when the whole job comes together and you show it to the client and see how happy they are with the final product. It is such a great feeling.
I also love being out in the field and communicating with everyone. It’s great to be part of a bigger team with the different trades and to meet all the clients and giving them a good product.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face on a job site?
Cameron: Organization is a big one. Being organized is a huge key to success on any project. The number of changes that can happen sometimes can also be challenging. Sometimes you end up doing things over. We have a process where we box out a house first and we’ve always walked through with the homeowner and really get them to give us the approval prior to actually wiring everything.
But other challenges are figuring out stuff with BC Hydro, making sure that we’re following their protocols. Some things are never easy when it comes to different job sites and the way the main power is brought in and keeping all the clearances.
What is something that people don’t know about your trade?
Cameron: A lot of people think it’s very simple to just add some lights and plugs wherever they want. They don’t really realize the amount of work that goes into getting a wire from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’. And so when you explain everything, for example, this drywall needs to be opened and somebody’s going to have to fix that afterward, it can be really eye-opening. Then a painter is going to have to come in and finish that to cover the drywall so it looks clean and polished afterwards.
Some homeowners think that it’s a lot easier than it really is. And I think that’s definitely something that more people just don’t really have the knowledge or the understanding to see how everything is actually behind the walls.
What do you like best about working with PLE?
Cameron: The best thing with PLE is how organized they are. PLE is a clean, efficient company to work with because they always put their stuff in a certain area of the house, not like with some other painters.
Sometimes we go into a job site and a painting company is not a hundred percent done their job. That is never the case with PLE. They take really good care to ensure they do a great job of everything. They are very detailed oriented, ensuring they mask and tape everything off which is key. It allows me to still proceed in finishing what we need to get done without getting in their way and without any holdups.
How does working with PLE make your job easier?
Cameron: Communication is always key. They let us know when things are completed and where we can follow in behind. They are also easy to deal with which is great. When you can get along with the other trades on a job site, it just makes things so much smoother and they definitely have that skill for sure.