Spotlight on KK Leong

Piritahi is an alliance of companies formed to deliver build-ready land for Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities. Working as an alliance means we have a mix of people from our participant companies with different backgrounds, expertise and strengths, enabling us to deliver our massive programme of works through collaboration.

Programme Quantity Surveyor, KK Leong was one of the first to join Piritahi’s commercial team. We caught up with KK to learn about his role and experience working on an alliance for the first time.

What do quantity surveyors do?

We’re responsible for managing all the financial aspects of construction works. This includes things like the procurement and payment of subcontractors, pricing of variations and cost reporting.

Piritahi's quantity surveyors are each responsible for a neighbourhood, and on a monthly basis they produce detailed cost reports for every project, or what we call Target Outturn Costs (TOC). The speed and scale at which our works take place means we often have some pretty tight deadlines. We usually only have a couple of days to sift through project cost information and prepare reports that I then present to the programme alliance board.

What is cost reporting and why is it important?

Cost reporting is all about reviewing a project’s construction costs-to-date and using this information to forecast the cost-to-complete the remainder of the project. It’s particularly important for Piritahi because of the scale of our programme and how rapidly we carry out construction. To make sure we achieve high quality results while keeping to budget, regular cost reporting is essential.

With some projects underway for several months and even years, cost reporting allows us to track the financial efficiency and profitability of a TOC. The earlier we know about cost over-runs, the more time we have to correct them over the course of the project. The other benefit is being able to apply learnings from one TOC to other developments to help us avoid the same problems, minimise room for error and potentially save costs on future TOCs.

Tell us more about your role.

My role has changed since I joined Piritahi in early 2019. A priority when I started was helping to build a robust cost reporting system. As our team was very small at the time, it was all hands-on deck working on our active projects and simultaneously trying to establish important processes that would support our rapid growth.

As our team has grown and we’ve built more structure into how we operate, my own role has evolved with it. One of my key responsibilities now is collating all the cost reports for our projects and reporting this back to our programme alliance board. Although our line of work is very structured and systematic, there’s still lots of opportunity for flexibility and innovation. As a team we’re always thinking about how we can adapt to our growing programme - pinpointing areas where our processes could be refined to deliver better or more efficient results.

How has your experience been working on an alliance?

Piritahi is the first alliance I’ve worked on, so it’s been a new and exciting experience for me. Previously, I would only work on one or two projects at any given time, so the sheer volume of projects has been an awesome opportunity for me to gain valuable experience.

For me, the highlight of being part of such a unique programme has to be the positive impact we’re making on local communities. It’s what really attracted me to working here and is what keeps me motivated each day. Although I’m not on site doing the physical construction, being involved in the process, visiting our sites and seeing the progress we’re making is extremely rewarding. With many new homes already completed on land that we’ve prepared for Kāinga Ora, we’re starting to see the tangible social impacts of what we do. It makes all the hard work worthwhile.

What are some challenges you’ve experienced?

Working within an alliance model has come with some expected challenges, especially during the earlier months. Our participant companies are leaders in the industry and have their own processes that work really well. To work effectively in an alliance, we’ve asked them to adopt completely new ways of working – some of which we were still figuring out along the way.

Although challenging, the collaborative nature of the alliance means everyone is always willing to learn and solve problems together. I really enjoy being able to share my knowledge and experience with our construction teams, helping them to better understand our commercial processes and in turn, receive helpful input on how we can improve them. This relationship has been vital for setting up the effective system we have today and one of the many benefits of how the alliance is structured.

To learn more about career opportunities at Piritahi, check out our careers page.