2. Designers, Architects, Specifiers


Reference : John Oliver

Many years ago I attended one of John Oliver’s courses on Brickwork. I came away with a sense of confidence in being able to use bricks in construction which stood me in good stead for some time. The publications authored by John were my reference when I needed technical back-up.

I had an incidence of what appeared to be efflorescence on the brickwork of one of the buildings I had built. I could not see how efflorescence could have occurred after the measures we had taken. A call to John Oliver and a site visit solved the mystery of the deposit (not efflorescence after all) and gave us the simple solution to the problem.

In 2005 we were fortunate to win a competition for a three-storey building for Kings College. The building was clad in brick with 4 metre storey-heights and included brick-clad towers rising to four stories. This project required a special expertise in design that not only covered technical design aspects but also ensured that the bricklaying would be up to the quality required for the building. It also involved developing a brick colour that would match the original bricks at the college.

Thankfully we were able to engage John Oliver’s services as a consultant to help us address all of the challenging issues with the design and to cover the requirements for Building Consent. Without John’s expertise on board we would not have been able to have the confidence in our design nor would we have been able to convince the Council  to accept our design. Once the  construction of the building was under way, we had the assurance of John on board watching over the bricklaying and ensuring that the quality was delivered. Thanks to John’s involvement we confidently achieved completion of our building project.

The next project we undertook for Kings College, the Chapel Close, completed last year, set up even bigger design and quality challenges for us. Our aim was to produce brickwork that had the traditional qualities and details of the adjoining 90-year-old Kings College chapel. One of the problems of modern-day bricks is that they do not have a thickness that is half their length and this works against traditional options for bonding of the brickwork. With John’s expertise on board we were able to complete a design using special brick shapes and traditional bonds.

Once again, John’s input assisted us with obtaining consent and with achieving a very high quality (some have said exemplary) standard of brickwork.

While I can say that I have learnt a great deal from John over the years I still would not say that I know it all by any means. I will continue to call on John’s expertise even if it is just to overview the simple things and keep us on the right track and certainly whenever there is a challenge in front of us.

One of the problems we face in the building industry is not knowing what we don’t know. It makes a difference when we can find expertise to guide us through the field of building technology and help us address aspects that we were not aware that we needed to know.

We have in John Oliver someone to call upon who knows everything that we don’t know about bricks and brickwork.

Alastair Kay
for Kay and Keys Architects Limited

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5  December 2012

Reference for John Oliver

The schools team at Jasmax has undertaken a number of projects utilizing John Oliver’s brickwork consulting services, including the recently completed Ormiston Senior College and Elim Junior School.

Early engagement during the design stages has provided valuable feedback regarding the viability of brickwork in certain situations, detail implications and its affordability.

He has prepared detailed specifications to support tender and construction documentation and followed up with onsite briefing, observation and review of the brickwork areas.

John’s input has enabled both the architect and contractor to confidently work through the brickwork aspects associated with these projects.

Andrew Grant
Senior Architect
Jasmax Limited

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I have worked with John Oliver since 1996, both as a client and a collaborator on technical information for the building industry.

I have found John’s expert knowledge and passion for his subject to be unique in the building industry.

John has combined the collected information on building in brick, from suppliers, designers and bricklayers and provided a concise and practical book for the specifier and bricklayer. He has then gone on to provide detailed and entertaining seminars that complement his book with a much more direct, anecdotal approach informed by practical site observation.

As a consultant, I can fully recommend John who will quickly provide technical information, but also advise on whether further engineering compliance may be required, and the territorial authority’s requirements for each stage of the consenting and building process.


Paul Edmond
Registered Architect
Construkt Architects Ltd

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Friday 16 November 2012

Testimonial for John Oliver

To whom it may concern

I have known John Oliver, Building Consultant, Brick Consulting Ltd, for several years, in my capacity as Property Manager to the Academic Colleges Group

During this time, John has provided expertise and advice on several of our buildings in Auckland. He was the consultant in all matters relating to the brick work on ACG Parnell College built in 2006, and recently he offered professional advice to our new acquisition, the old Waitakere City Council Building in Henderson.

At all times I have found John to be completely reliable, punctual, with an ability to identify any potential issue early, and offer sound advice.

His written reports are clear, concise, and offer practical solutions in terms a lay person can understand.

John’s 20 years’ experience in the brick industry places him in a position to advise on all aspects of brick selection, installation and coatings; he is highly regarded and trusted by individuals and companies working with these materials.

With his extensive knowledge of the industry, John is able to identify and resolve issues before they become costly problems.

Engaging an individual, who has a recognised expertise in the manner in which a cladding is to be installed; helps provide a confidence in the ‘weather tightness’ of a building and all that entails.

John is one of the real experts in his field; I have no hesitation in recommending the services of his company, Brick Consulting Ltd to anyone. 

Yours sincerely

Rob Boston

Academic Colleges Group
ACG Property Manager

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Brick Consulting Limited were employed by Saint Kentigern Trust Board during 2012 to provide advice on the design, installation and quality control of the substantial brick work elements to the College’s signature building.

John’s advice prior to construction meant potentially expensive and disruptive remedial work was avoided at a later date.  This was confirmed when a seismic review was carried out post completion. As a result of John’ advice the brick elements received a positive review.

Because of the large quantities of brick veneer the client had concern over potential salting and discolouration of the brickwork. John gave advice to the brick sub-contractor on how best to avoid this situation.

One of the main roles that John performed for the Board was quality control as the installation progressed. Regular inspections followed by detailed reports ensured all parties were clear on what was expected as the project progressed. The timeliness of these inspections and the speed of the feedback was absolutely critical to ensure that all that could be done was done to achieve a top quality finish.

John’s input has meant the trust Board has ended up with an installation that performs both from and engineering and aesthetic point of view. The fees spent on his appointment have been money well spent for the Board.

 Greg Noble
Property Manager
Saint Kentigern Trust Board

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26 November 2012 


 As architect’s, we were engaged by our clients to design and construct a high quality house with extensive views over-looking St Heliers Bay,  in Auckland.

The dwelling was two storeys, over a largely in-ground 3rd level, and clad in brick veneer to a bagged plaster and paint finish. Council advised that much of our detailing was ‘Specific Design’. Following discussions with the builder and our client, we felt the need to engage the services of John Oliver, Brick Consulting Ltd, as a specialist consultant in regards to brick veneer installations. John was asked to ‘Peer Review’ our detailing and provide constructive comment where necessary plus provide a Producer Statement Design Review (PS2) to cover the brick veneer installation. This information was then submitted to council along with the knowledge that the client would be engaging John’s services to Project Manage the brick veneer installation. This approach was accepted by Council and work continued without delay.

John worked closely with the team, inspecting the brick veneer installation twice weekly to ensure a high standard was maintained, and any issues were promptly addressed. This not only achieved the desired result, but facilitated the issue of the Code Compliance Certificate at the completion of the work.

We endorse the value John adds to a project and would not hesitate to recommend his services in any future construction of a similar nature.

Yours Sincerely

G.J. Dayman BArch. FNZIA

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I am a Clerk of Works, and over recent years have been engaged in two major contracts at Kings College, both extensively clad in brick veneer, where John Oliver of Brick Consulting Ltd was employed as the specialist building consultant for the brick veneer.

The first project, the Technology and Arts Design Block, was an ultra-modern multi-storied structure, clad predominately in brick. The second project was a traditional church style complex consisting of courtyards, cloisters, classrooms, offices and chapel. This later project involved some complex arches, columns, brick structures and detailing.

John worked closely with the architect on all aspects of the brick detailing, and provided guidance and advice on the brick supply, which presented its own problems that needed to be resolved. He also prepared the bricklaying specifications for these contracts. In addition, the brick veneer installations were project managed by John, which normally involved two inspections per week while the bricks were being laid. This approach helped ensure the project flowed smoothly, a high quality of bricklaying was achieved and the client, Kings College, was very pleased with the end result.

I found John to be a good communicator, reliable, knowledgeable on his subject, worked well with the team and an asset to the project – I have no hesitation in recommending John’s services to anyone who desires a brick clad building, one   they can be proud of on completion.

Jack Coultas

Clerk of Works

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