Nine years after Box set out to reshape the way designer houses are built, they're continuing to challenge the status quo. Director Dan Heyworth takes us through the new thinking he and his partners put into Box.

Brave new thinking, inside the Box

In 2011 Dan Heyworth and the team who are now his partners at, Box took at good hard look at the pain points around architect-designed houses. They were all involved in the architecture, construction and building industries at the time.

If you ask my Mum she'll tell you I always liked taking things apart and putting them back together. Pretty much that's what we've done at Box."
Dan Heyworth, CEO

Like most reinvention stories, Box was born of frustration. Rather than the satisfying creative experience it should be, Dan describes the old model of design and construction as being tricky and fraught. "Everyone knows architects are amazing at what they do. Creative people are optimists – they think, I'm sure we can make this work. Well, builders are the opposite. In the end, the client pays for the architect's mistakes and the builder's mistakes. Cost creates all the friction."

Our main goal, the one that keeps us awake at night is how can we increase efficiency and bring down the overall cost of ownership for a dwelling in an industry that is so wasteful."
Dan Heyworth, CEO

Box broke down the barriers and brought all of the talent - architects, builders, designers, project managers, estimators - into one big family, under one roof. They quickly proved that with all of the disciplines working together they could build their modernist houses with less risk for their client and most importantly, with less conflict because "there’s only one person to point the finger at during the whole process."

The beautiful houses Box creates are focussed on design and architecture but with a solid pragmatic vein running through them. That approach manages to save clients time and money while delivering a client centric design and high quality finish. As Dan points out "You'd never go to Ferrari and ask them to design you a one-off car, so we use similar detailing and the same elements from house to house. For instance, most of our windows are full height so we already know how to detail that."

Growing pains

Once Box had a couple of good reviews in magazines, the business grew really quickly. They were doubling in size every year which was great but came with its own challenges – they needed to double their overdraft to fund it and their old bank was not playing ball. "Being more entrepreneurial-minded Kiwibank resonated with us so we went to see them. They had no problem with the loan so we jumped ship and we never looked back."

Since then, their Kiwibank Business Manager, Adam Day, has become an essential part of the business. They catch up every quarter and go over the numbers.

He coaches us through stuff. They’ve got a real interest in seeing us grow and show us the performance measures they want to see. I like to think that they're the industry shaper and disruptors and we're in the same boat."
Dan Heyworth, CEO

Box now has 35 staff and no plans to stop disrupting their market. They've recently brought their design focus to a new sector of the market and by utilising the techniques and lessons learned from 10 years of designer homes they are making excellent design accessible to a new group of Kiwi homeowners

Ultimately the evidence for the success of the Box idea is spread around the Auckland landscape. Elegant, well-made homes their clients enjoy every day. As Dan says "there's nothing more satisfying than to have your idea grow and blossom and take on a life of its own."

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