Strength starts in the foundation, and that is as true for a home as it is for the company building it. For Russ Barry and Jodi Roach, owners and operators of Interactive Construction, that has been their practice since day one: a focus on building better for their clients, their community and the environment.
They told Douglas that working through a pandemic only reinforced that mission, and they outline what they’ve done to keep their business moving forward.
“We are constantly adapting and learning how to build better than we did the day before. COVID-19 impacted everyone, and our experience reinforced the choices we make to support our crew, engage with our subtrades and respect our clients,” Russ says. “We’re learning a lot as the situation evolves, but it is really clear that our values are serving us well as we navigate the changes in the industry and in our community.”
At Interactive Construction, the crew has adapted their approach during the pandemic, but never fully stopped building. The company worked with staff to support their needs as they navigated having children at home, illness and other impacts, Russ says, noting everyone had to adjust. In a hands-on industry, the online operational foundation he built into the company paid off.
With payroll, invoicing, scheduling and more all done digitally already, administrative staff and project managers worked from home, while the crew and subtrades adhered to new hygiene and distancing protocols on site. “Seven members of our crew could work and manage projects remotely in March and April because of those systems we already had in place,” Jodi says. “Paired with a high level of trust between the teams, our crew was able to balance taking care of themselves while still delivering for our clients.”
Interactive Construction has been building custom homes and renovations in Victoria since 2013. The company’s wide portfolio of work includes several Passive House Canada certified and award-winning projects that are pushing the definition of sustainable building in the city.
“The houses we build are people’s homes,” Jodi says. “We’re so grateful to be welcomed into those spaces as we work to create them, knowing what we’re really building is community.” Navigating the complex impacts of a global pandemic reinforced how interconnected everything is, she adds, and how decisions on one jobsite need to work for everyone involved. A consistent focus on the people using them is at the core of decisions around systems and protocols.
“The one constant is our approach to people. We respect our crew, our partners and our clients,” Russ says. “As a company, we seek the best in our community, to partner with and work with, to create homes built with pride and skill.”
Adapting As Usual
For the year ahead, there will undoubtedly be new challenges and opportunities as the longer-term impacts of COVID-19 are realized, Russ says. What they do know is that the goals they set for 2020 before the year began are even more relevant now. They are committed to finding ways to lower VOC emissions within homes to support health and well-being in built environments, and lessen their global impact through sustainable building practices and materials, sourced locally when possible. Online systems to support remote working remains a focus so that the crew can adapt to changing protocols and requirements, COVID-19 and otherwise, without losing the momentum of a project. It’s about refining what was already working, rather than learning a completely new way to do business, Russ says. It’s a position they are grateful to be in.
“We aren’t restarting with new systems,” he says. “It’s business as usual in that we keep adapting – to what our clients need and what the world needs.”