Guest Blog: Kevin Gale from Galower, the Builders of Dream Homes
Galower Builders began in 1978 with just me and my good friend Mick Power. We met at Twickenham College, where I studied bricklaying and he studied carpentry to HNC level. We continued our education, completing our tech courses alongside architects, engineers and quantity surveyors. Together, we felt we had gained a solid understanding of quality building and started work on extensions and small domestic projects.
We now work on everything from high end residential to schools and English Heritage restorations alongside around 40 full time employees. Most of them have been with us for 10 or more years, some more than 20. We’ve kept our team together through the good times and the bad because nothing is more valuable than who we work with. Galower has been built through time and trust, and they all know that Mick and I will be with them on the site whenever we’re needed.
What we don’t know is just as important as what we do. New technologies and materials that emerge every year to make our work easier, safer and more efficient. Common practice today could be out of date tomorrow, so you need to keep in tune with the industry to avoid becoming stagnant.
Working with Dyer Grimes Architecture puts us right at the cutting edge. We first worked with John and his team around five years ago and have since built everything from pristine, contemporary new builds such as White Lodge (pictured above) to ambitious and intimidatingly complex renovations such as Emperor’s Gate, where three flats within a period building were combined into a single, modernised home.
When we work on a standard house, we have a pretty good idea what it’s going to look like before we finish. With DGA’s projects, it’s exciting watching them come together and reveal something unexpected and new. Their projects are never ordinary and the challenges they present us keep us strong as a team, testing every one of us to work better and think smarter.
Meeting their clients also grounds us and reminds us what’s at stake. A home – especially a new build – is the biggest investment most people ever make. When someone is trusting you with their life and their future, you don’t let a single mistake slip past. This trust often evolves into friendship and there’s nothing better than ending the long, hard work with a celebratory dinner in their brand new home.
The kind of builds that we do with DGA just aren’t possible if you rush or cut corners. Simply put, when you’re building, it’s either right or it’s wrong. If you don’t get the first stage right, then everything you add on top will be wrong. By having regular site meetings with our foreman and the architects, we can go over every tiny detail to make sure they’re all up to the highest standard and we’re fully prepared before moving forward.
Because we’ve worked with architects and quantity surveyors from the moment our careers began, we know the level of detail they need and what they’re likely to miss when tallying up the costs. Our confidence in our pricing accuracy allows us to present project programmes that break down exactly what each stage will cost and how long they will take – which gives the person financing the project peace of mind that it’ll be on time and inside budget.
That peace of mind is precious. We all know the stories of contractors who have fudged projects, stretched themselves thin and gone bankrupt. Galower’s is a different story, and in the almost 40 years since it started I’m proud to say we’ve never compromised on quality.