With a strong heritage in equestrian construction that has been complimented by the addition of country homes and earthworks, Harrison Lane offers a seamless experience for clients in the design, construction and development of their luxury equestrian and lifestyle properties.
Projects range from building country cottages or barns integrated with stables and accomodation, through to elegant modern family homes, and farm or lifestyle projects that incorporate the planning and execution of everything on the property; from fencing, farm tracks, equestrian facilities, barns and country homes.
Harrison Lane continues to build a reputation for quality construction and attention to detail.
Laura recently sat down for a chat with journalist Nadene Hall to reflect on the last ten years of Harrison Lane.
Laura Daly was made redundant on a Monday afternoon in 2012. On Tuesday morning she walked back into the office and asked to buy the company website and the work ute. She was sure the brand of Econobuilt she’d worked for over the previous 15 months just needed a bit more time to succeed.
Ten years later, and in 2022 Laura has led the Harrison Lane team to its 11th Award at the Registered Master Builder’s House of the Year Awards. This year they took out the Regional Supreme House of the Year for Auckland/Northland/Coromandel in the $750,000 - $1 million range for their character-filled home in Karaka.
“Working towards and winning the awards is the icing on the cake and we’re extremely grateful to our immediate and extended working family and clients that we have around us that enable us to do this. We know on a daily basis we deliver the best product and service.”
The icing on the cake for Laura is all the happy clients over the past decade. “They welcome us back long after the builds are finished and for me, the longevity of the relationships is the most important aspect. We aren’t here to be a 5-minute wonder. We’re looking forward to sharing many more awards with our HL family.”
Running an award-winning construction business wasn’t why English-born Laura decided to make New Zealand home. She came here in 2005 on her OE to work with horses after her grandmother gave her some money with one criterion.
“She told me not to do anything sensible with it! So I flew here with one contact in Hawkes Bay and one phone number for a friend of a friend in Auckland. The Hawkes Bay connection didn’t work out, so I rang the number and the person who answered said ‘come work for me’.”
Laura worked as a groom for a professional showjumper, then got a job with Ross Coles, Huntsman of the Pakuranga Hunt for 25 years.
When construction company Econobuilt formed a rural division called Harrison Lane specialising in equestrian facilities, Laura moved into design consultation, advising rural clients on stable and arena projects. When Econobuilt decided it wanted to concentrate on other projects and made her redundant, Laura decided Harrison Lane needed a second chance.
“The speculation was a five percent chance of succeeding,” she laughs. “Our first job was a big, beautiful stable in Huapai and it still looks really good today. Even now, I always enjoy catching up with Harrison Lane owners and I really love hosting our current and past clients when we go to Horse of the Year.”
Scott Munro was one of the subcontractors who worked with Laura when she took over the company. He grew up on a farm in Pukekawa and started his building apprenticeship when he was 16. His first 13 years of experience included home and commercial construction including warehouses and the Pukekohe cinema.
“He’s a level headed guy and exceptional builder, and we worked together really well.”
When Scott asked for an increase in his contract rate, Laura decided to make him an offer he couldn’t refuse. “I told him I’d go one better and we could go into business together. And to my surprise he said yes, even after I explained – and I was only half-joking – that it is going to be like a marriage!”
Today, Laura is Harrison Lane’s managing director and Scott is the construction manager, heading the building team which now numbers over 10. Harrison Lane employs its own designers, builders, and specialist earthworks team, constructing bespoke country homes, equestrian complexes, arenas, and barns.
“As joint owners, the two of us are far stronger together,” says Laura. “We’ve now done over 100 projects in 10 years, and many are repeat clients – we do one build for someone, then another and another. A lot of our early clients get us in to do renovations, sell their property, then we build them another house on their new farm.”
There are two important keys to their success in creating unique country homes and buildings. Laura and Scott oversee every project, right down to the finest details.
“We stay involved the whole way through, from the introduction right down to every tap, every tile, every touch-up.”
The process means clients get a custom project with people who know and care about every detail.
“It’s a very enjoyable process, rather than dealing with a salesperson whose motivation is to sell a design, then a rotation of contractors and subcontractors who might be working on a range of other houses at the same time.”
The other key to providing clients with a unique home is creating a relationship based on trust and honesty.
“For us, it’s about keeping people informed of the real journey, not telling them what they want to hear. We can always come up with solutions for something that might at first look like it’s going to cost a fortune.
“We’ve built value into our processes, like having our own architectural designer in-house, our own earthwork machinery, a tight team of builders. It’s that total project management that gives clients good value for money.”
Laura and Scott also understand first-hand the stress homeowners face when building. Both have built their own homes – Scott is onto house number three – and that means they also bring the benefit of hindsight.
“We can talk to you about our lessons from each project, the things we would do differently. We know how much a building costs so we can offer guidance and still create something very personal, practical, functional, safe, timeless.” The best part of the job is working with people to make a project a pleasant experience.
“I really love working with people,” says Laura. “I so enjoy getting to know them and forming relationships. We want it to be a fun journey. If you see our number come up on your phone, we want you to be happy to take that call.”