Build June (2016)

Build Magazine 8 In 2009, Genevieve Wells was made redundant from her job. Despite this setback, she took the initiative to start up her own company, Lewis Visuals, which has gone from strength to strength, and now provides expert architectural services throughout Surrey and beyond. We spoke to her to find out more. Like a lot of other successful companies, we have had to overcome a lot of adversity to get to where we are today. It was being made redundant in 2009 that I decided to be in charge of my own destiny and start up my business. As many architectural businesses needed to keep their costs down, I saw a gap in the market for part time freelance services. During the first year of business, the majority of my income came from freelancing for other companies and I then gradually built up my own private client database through reputation and referrals. In terms of my qualifications, I graduated in Interior Architecture at the Farnham University of Creative Arts in 2005. Whilst studying, I worked part time for several local architects to develop my CAD skills and put me ahead of my peers once I had graduated. For two years, I worked as an Interior designer specialising in the office, retail and leisure sector. The projects ranged from Pizza Express, Stringfellows and a “Grand Design” project and have covered 150 residential units in a single development to one off luxury 9000 sq ft residential dwellings. Having learnt the twin disciplines of interior design and architecture, I have been able to appreciate the external aesthetic quality of architecture, but also how internal surroundings benefit a person’s lifestyle. I then changed paths to focus on residential architecture. Within a year, I had established a good reputation as an architectural technician which lead to being head hunted four times. Eventually I accepted a role as a technical coordinator for Redrow Homes. This opened up many avenues and contacts for the future. Despite the redundancy, straight away I was offered a position as a CAD technician at MCA working on high end residential houses. It was my last and best employer that helped me over the last seven years establish my own business, pass on leads and support me in becoming a Chartered Architectural Technologist. I am now an Assessor and Secretary for the South East Region of CIAT (my Professional Board). Today, our company offers a highly integrated approach to architectural design, which combines all of the elements involved, ranging from the conception to the completion of each project. Moreover, the type of projects we cover go right across the spectrum, ranging from individual residential dwellings to entire housing developments of 200 units at any one time. Alongside this expertise, Lewis Visuals understands the local planning policies to achieve an excellent (near 100%) success rate with planning applications. In this way we ensure our clients receive excellent value for money. Above all, our company vision and mission is ‘transforming lives through design’. Our home is our sanctuary, and people no longer want to have separate rooms. We understand that everyone’s time is precious and they want to spend that time together. As such, we take the time to understand our clients work, personal and family needs and translate those needs into a design to improve their lifestyle. Of course, this can be easier said than done. We achieve this by gathering comprehensive briefs from our clients to understand their requirements and give them design options to consider. Our solutions are cost effective and are the result of extensive technical knowledge to meet the latest building regulation standards combined with the most innovative and sustainable products on the market. Typically, a lot of our work is the renovation and extension of existing properties and dwellings for the general public. These range from major extensions and refurbishments to large properties, the modest single storey extension, enlarging a kitchen or creating an ‘open living’ environment. On the other side of the business, Lewis Visuals also works with larger developers creating housing designs and construction packages for large luxury one off houses to developments of up to 200 units at any one time. Alongside our integrated approach, another differentiating factor of our is our sales and marketing process, which is designed around the ActionCOACH Five Ways. The benefits from this have been enormous, where the leads over the last year have increased fourfold. Further, we have introduced formal systems into the business to speed up our processes and document our sales and marketing activities. Through measuring these, we are now able to make incremental improvements to them. Ultimately, the key factor in our success has been our team, who are enthusiastic, believe in our vision, and have all studied hard to earn their qualifications in Construction Technology. The icing on the cake is that the success of the business has enabled me to buy a property for myself, and have my own dream home! Special Feature BUILD’s Most Innovative Designers of 2016 1606WO19 Build’s Most Innovative Designers in the UK 2016 Build’s Best Design and Construction Company in Surrey 2016 BEFA’s Best Female Entrepreneur in Europe and the Middle East 2016 Build’s Best Design and Construction Company in Surrey 2015 WICE Best Female Architectural Technologist in Europe 2015 FSB’s Best Business Person of the Year in Surrey 2015