Updated: May 13
Member: Peter Latemore
We've got another member spotlight coming in red hot! Meet Peter Latemore: BDAQ Life Member, Brisbane branch meeting co-ordinator and holder of many varied BDAQ roles over the years.
Bachelor of Design Studies 1978 from UQ. Now called Architectural Studies. I did well at school and won a QLD government scholarship to study Architecture. Which also meant I was required to work for the government for many years afterwards.
I had to be in the Works Department from the very first Uni holidays in mid-1976, so it is now 44 years I've been in the industry. Good grief – writing that number is a bit of a surprise! One thing that never left me was the amount of money I received in my first pay packet. Yes, cash. It was $180 per week, which was four times my scholarship allowance. Very quickly I upgraded my little 100cc Honda motorbike!
I realized after being in the Works Dept for the year out from Uni in 1979, that my interest in design was being killed off by being in the department, so I resigned and got hit with paying back over $8k. The equivalent of around $30k today. That was a lot to a newly unemployed ‘drafter’, but I just couldn’t stand the stifling atmosphere, and had to get out.
Six months later though, the best thing happened. I started working as a steel detailer for a wonderful person who became a lifelong friend. At the time, some in the industry considered steel detailers to be the lowest of scum, but boy did I learn so much. I had a talent as it turned out to be quickly able to see how to break down complex 3D structures into manageable 2D pieces of steel plate and beams.
Within only a month I became the office’s person on weird mining chutes, complex stairs, gantries and any oddly shaped roof. For younger types, this was all on a very big drawing board, sometimes on A0 sheets. This experience led me directly into a mindset I’ve carried to today – never make it harder for professionals following on from you. When an architect’s or engineer’s drawings don’t tell you much, it is nigh on impossible to draft detail items that must be accurate to 1mm. During 15 years of steel detailing and being an engineering draftsperson, I was dabbling in building design too. Like so many others.
I always say I was a twit for not joining at the beginning, 10 years before. I should have and kick myself regularly. Why didn’t I? I had seen some average documentation by members and did not want to be associated. What I did not realize was that these were not a good representation. There were others like me that were striving for quality.
Les Briant who recently retired had been harassing me for some years. He kept saying that BDAQ needed me! Also, Alan Brind who I was collaborating with, kept at me to join. Another reason was the awards. I had won one through HIA and the benefits of that made me think about BDAQ awards. As others can attest, awards can mean a lot to your business.
I forever thank the father of the awards Jeff Osman. I always remember becoming branch treasurer of Brisbane in 2001. In other words, very soon after joining BDAQ. I’d been a treasurer for other things, and someone said it was easy, so I thought, why not, I like a challenge. Straight after though, that same someone, Doug Mayes, informed me that in the Brisbane Branch, the Treasurer was also the sponsor coordinator and meeting coordinator. And that I had to get the regional design awards figured out in only 2 months’ time. As it turned out, Jim Kettle volunteered, with Owen Batchelor’s support and it went ok.
The absolute highlight has to be receiving Life Membership in 2017. It was odd really, because just beforehand I’d been looking through my father’s gliding medals, and found his life membership badge, thinking “that’d be nice to have, but I haven’t done enough”. I was quite flabbergasted when it happened. Another big one for me was receiving the inaugural Doug Mayes Memorial Medal in 2012. Completely unexpected. In both cases, these reinforced why I am a committed member of BDAQ.
I have gained so much from being in the BDAQ. Russell Brandon’s term ‘collegiality’ is what I keep referring to. I’ve ended up at many other branch meetings, and learnt to appreciate and learn from all members around the state. Just one of many of them is Max Slade, who has guided me through many years’ involvement in coordinating Brisbane, and much else. It is these sorts of people that I have been privileged to know. BDAQ has provided direct influence on my practice, by numerous collaborations with other members.
Through BDAQ I have gotten to know a lot of people in our industry. By myself none of this could have happened. It all enriches my life.
Something I have professed to others and practice myself is the concept of having influence by actively being involved in the BDAQ. It has its own rewards, like just feeling happier, but being part of a bigger whole extends way past yourself. As an association we have considerable influence throughout all aspects of our profession. And being part of it has so much impact back on yourself.
I say to clients that it is a rare privilege to have direct influence on their lives by providing buildings for them to enjoy living and working in. And then seeing that happen is amazing.
Right now, we have two staff. Until early last year there were three, but the slow industry took Andrew away. Kaylene is a building designer, and extremely good at it. Julie is the office manager who I could not survive without. My staff are not run by me, and the practice is like a collaboration between us all. I love this.
We pride ourselves on being the best at understanding Queenslanders. I am a heritage expert also. We do other stuff, but the main one continues to be Queenslander renos.
We also are well known for high quality documentation. I won’t compromise on this. We could charge less and do less, but I have found it backfires for all sorts of reasons. Any builders who use our drawings always report that we made their job easier.
Sounds egotistical, but we've won quite a lot of awards. I'm very proud of them. As of now 100. Most are BDAQ, and we have some HIA. A few, which I am pleased about, are business achiever awards, as they recognize we are running an ok practice.
Most projects are fixed fee. We charge a bit, and handle iterations as part of the fee.In the main, this works out ok.Our fees are on the website, and most clients see this before talking to us, so the fee question is not raised.We charge up front for each stage of our design process, usually broken up into Deposit/Existings, Sketch Design, Design Development, Working Drawings.
This prior payment regime was a direct influence from BDAQ and knowing Tamica who does it.
o Short brief
Clients wanted cover for the Mini and did not want an ugly carport.
o The project description
We thought let’s try for an arbour style and have portions that reflect entry onto the property. We kept the roof over the 6x3m ‘carport’ region and avoided a DA.
o What were the clients and builder like?
Wonderful clients, because they trusted us. The builder who we do not know did a superb job.
o What do you like the most?
We have been pleased by the reactions the carport has received. We were trying to respect the existing house, and we’ve heard many local residents really like it. It even ended up being included in the 2020 BCC design guide.
o Any tricks or innovation.
We worked in conjunction with our engineer to not have no cross bracing.
o Funny story?
Early on we guessed that every underground service was right where we wanted the pedestrian walkway. We informed the client, expecting him to ask his builder to investigate, but he stunned us by immediately digging up the whole area, and exactly plotting the pipes.
Me and my wife Sherry. She’s retired from being a librarian and federal government employee.
We, or should I say me, decided on no kids, because I was told in 1991 that I’d be dead by 1995. I was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease back then, after a slow onset starting in 1982, and no-one usually lives past 4 years. Later, researchers found that onset in your 20’s was the only decade that a MND sufferer had a slim chance of living past 4 years. And I’m one of them.
I would have loved to be a parent, and that has influenced my abiding interest in mentoring others. This has included several architectural & building design graduates. Like Andrew Beaman who was with me for 12 years & Kaylene Richardson who still works for me. And of course Yara Barrozo, who was with me for ten years till 2012 after which she became both licensed and a member
I have a quiet mission of encouraging smaller buildings that are well designed and efficient both in layout and sustainability. I really dislike overlarge houses on tiny lots. People need outdoor yard space for mental health and kids to play.
I have another mission – and many in BDAQ know this. Aspire to more as a designer and charge a bit more.