Uni graduate set to help build improvements in the construction industry with UNSW start-up project

Building confidence: Patrick Connolly wants to "clean up" the construction industry to give future home-owners greater clarity. Picture: John Veage
Building confidence: Patrick Connolly wants to "clean up" the construction industry to give future home-owners greater clarity. Picture: John Veage

When Gymea Bay's Patrick Connolly returns from Silicon Valley, he hopes to polish up the Australian construction industry.

The recent university graduate, 24, is taking his business to the US as part of a program through the University of NSW.

He launched Procure Build two years ago, with the goal of providing greater transparency between stakeholders within the commercial and residential construction industry.

Mr Connolly studied construction management and property development at UNSW. He is completing a 10-week course where high potential young start-ups are matched with an experienced mentor, in the aim of boosting skills prior to raising capital.

The start-up named 'Procure Build, is a cloud based pre-qualification tool that uses a handful of pre-determined metrics tailored specifically to the construction industry to analyse the risk profile of potential partners and projects, well before stepping foot on a construction site.

Our goal is to roll this out as a standard procedure within the industry and have it form part of any contract negotiation," Mr Connolly said.

"A report will need to be provided that will be used to flag any areas of concern within a business. Its the first step before signing off on any contract.

"Currently, the only way to validate other businesses within construction is to search through reviews online or ask a friend within the industry, which is completely subjective."

Mr Connolly says in light of the recent 36-storey Opal Tower catastrophe, the venture aims to bring accountability back to the industry, restoring confidence that he says has been lost in the last decade.

I have seen first-hand for the past eight years the problems that are happening day in day out within building and it seems to be getting worse," he said.

I have had sub-contractors walk out on a job half way through never to pick up the phone again, leaving the builder to pick up the scraps and the bill. On the flip side, I have also seen builders refusing to pay subcontractors for months on end.

"Until now, there was no way to plan ahead and identify these issues before they happened. We now have a solution that the building industry has been waiting for.

We have received letters of intent from some of Australias largest builders who combined have an annual turnover in excess of $1 billion. We are piloting our platform and are providing early access to those who have registered online."

Overseas, Mr Connolly will meet with investors to further develop the platform and bring it to market ready with a launch date of March 2019 in sights.

Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean this month announced a crackdown on cowboy certifiers, to address concern about NSW's building certification process.

Under the new strategy, 30 per cent of the industry will be audited every year and corrupt certifiers or ones who are negligently signing off on unsafe buildings will be kicked out of the industry.

Any certifiers who have breached the code of conduct in the previous 12 months will also be unable to work on new strata developments.