Reflection on Building a New Shop

During the last two months in the new shop, I looked back and reflected on the shop building project. Despite previous experiences with multiple renovation projects of my own home, the building of the shop have brought new experiences – both good and bad ones.

Design Phase

Due to the push by the centre management to quickly build the new shop, we left majority of the design to the Architect – supplied by the centre and promised by the centre that she’s the best. The Architect has never worked on a newsagency in her life. The design was extreme, away from traditional newsagency, such that the cost of the project exceeded the initial budget. Despite the agreement by the centre management to pay half of the cost, the cost was still high in comparison with a traditional newsagency design.

Construction Phase

We commissioned two companies to work on the building of the new shop. Forte NSW worked on the structural plus the fixtures and fittings of the shop while Northside Shopfitters worked on the counter area – Lottery dedicated area with Gen 1 design and the POS counters.

Forte NSW was very cooperative and willing to change the constructive of the fixtures with limit. However, we found out the Architect chose many of the finishes and fittings not suited for newsagency:

  1. None standard slatwalls, despite the extra heavy duty property and looks great, we need complete new hangsells and shelves. All suppliers’ holders and shelves do not fit.
  2. Shelves finishes are suitable for lightweight products.
  3. The lighting cast too much shadow – not so great for reading text

At this stage, it was too late to change. Though, the colour black for the gift wall and shelves are great to enhance the gifts.

Northside did not supply detailed design of the counter. Therefore, the cabling completed before we were able to give any input. All the cabling (power and network) were run along the counter shelves resulting in a ugly bunch of cables clearly visible and less room on the shelves.

We commissioned Macarthur Lock Smiths to supply/install a new commercial grade safe and removal of the old safe. Their service is one of the best we have seen. Their prices are great as well compare with other locksmiths we queried. We will keep on using them.

Relocation Phase

Both Forte NSW and Northside were on schedule and handover shop to us. We closed the old shop on the Sunday afternoon, moved all the computer equipment, magazines and newspapers over to the new shop. We scheduled the electrician to switch the telephone lines and electricity over on the same afternoon. Monday mornings came, we got the core of the business up and running. With background in IT, we requested the builder to install a 24-ports patch panel which make our life very simple when connecting all the different equipment onto different computer networks (one for lotto, one for security system, one for the POS and one for the Internet).

Inspection Phase

Forte NSW built exactly to the plan with lots of little issues. However, Forte NSW were very cooperative in resolving the issues, despite it did took a while get everything resolved.

On the other hand, Northside’s work had some minor issues. However, the experience with Northside was not a pleasant one – actually it was a stressful and very upsetting. Northside only fixed one major issue with the flickering of the lightbox. Despite numerous requests via email, Northside were unwilling to fix other (minor) issues until reported to NSW Lotteries. Northside demanded the full payment of the work despite not willing to fix the issues. Northside even threaten legal action (extract of the emails provided before for you to judge).The bully tactic that Northside used was the worst tactic that I have ever experienced with builders.

Even after reported to NSW Lotteries, Northside still refused to fix other issues outside of NSW Lotteries jurisdiction. The “fixes” were all “hacked jobs” that were done clearly by an apprentice (or by a amateur). The result were not 100% fixed but there’s not point carrying about it. It would just give us more stress.


I am able to summerise my learning with the following points:

  • Must work close with the Architect on the initial phase to minimise cost
  • Question the Architect on every building term used there were unclear
  • Get the project manager involve in all the discussion with the Architecture/builders
  • Inspect building site regularly to ensure work completed according to the plan
  • Clear written contract with the builders
  • Inspect and write up defects immediately after hand-over
  • Never commission Northside Shopfitters to work on my shop again

Email Extract

Sent to Northside: Wed, 2 Mar 2016 19:00:01 +1100

Hello John/Shaun,
The list below are from the Centre Management:

1: Silicon to underside of glass is not acceptable
2: Hole for Data Plug in counter is too big and cable plug is loose
3: End panel Missing to Main counter
4: Plug screws and miss screws in all of under bench Joinery
5: Yellow poly lotto board it not installed correctly not flush also loose and look to be cracked
6: Square up and fix down scratch card box
My comments:
Item 1 - if you can not get the glasses out, maybe cover to counter the silicon with aluminum strips or something similar.
Item 3 - have been addressed.
Item 6 - disregard/not required.

Received from Northside: Thu, 17 Mar 2016 07:14:14 +1100

maryann has signed of on the lotto area
please pay the remaining invoice asap

Sent to Northside: Sun, 20 Mar 2016 20:04:01 +1100

Hello John,
    I have made $5K today and scheduled $5K payment tomorrow via EFT due to the limitation on the transaction per day on our account.
    However, could you please address the list of defects that the centre have noted down for the counter sent to you on 02/03/16 (see attached).
    In addition, could we ask for credit for the installation of 4 x LED poster frames that was going to be supplied by Tatts.

Robert Bui 

Received from Northside:Mon, 21 Mar 2016 07:19:09 +1100

Hi Robert
The poster frames are supplied for free by tatts so you don't get a rebate.You only pay for the 2 front poster displays.
As for the defects it has been passed by lotto the shopping centre one's don't apply to us.Futhermore you are lucky we don't back charge you for the disgraceful site of the shop and the trouble we had installing the job.



Received from Northside: Wed, 30 Mar 2016 13:06:53 +1100

there is an outstanding payment of $1469.50
as you would have read in your quote tatts were supplying the led poster
failure to pay the outstanding amount this week we will start legal
proceedings which means we cannot give you the paper work to claim your
$10000.00 from the stae goverment

Sent to Northside: Wed, 30 Mar 2016 14:04:17 +1100

Hello John,

All I need are one thing from you. That is to address the defects that outlined in the previous email. They are simple thing for you to fix. I understand that the list of defects from the centre, however, the defects also concern us and we are not satisfy with the looks and the long term integrity of the counter.

There is one other defect that we noticed, not the centre, is the wiring for the poster slot has one cable loose. This means one cable will break sooner or later while the other one will break afterward. We need that fixed as well.

As for the "disgraceful site" that Shaun mentioned, if Shaun believes he should get paid for the clean up for him install the counter then he should invoice Forte NSW

Received from Northside: Wed, 30 Mar 2016 14:32:30 +1100

we done the job for tatts yes you were paying
maryann signed it of thats it
if you dont want to pay thats fine you wont get any paper work of us to get your money
and we will still take you to court
the guys who put your folding doors in have not been paid
the builder was a shonk yes the site was disgraceful